In Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, the population crisis has generated significant opportunities for skilled workers. Skilled laborers from Bangladesh can also benefit from employment and a decent income in this prosperous Asian country. As Bangladesh and Japan continue to fortify their diplomatic and economic ties, the collaborative efforts on human resources development underscore the depth and potential of this evolving partnership.
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In a significant diplomatic effort, Ambassador Shahabuddin Ahmed, representing Bangladesh in Japan, emphasized the need for prioritizing the development of human resources and fostering collaboration in various economic sectors during a seminar held on Monday (6th November 2023).
The event, organized by the Bangladesh Embassy in Tokyo in partnership with the Japan International Trainee and Skilled Worker Cooperation Organization (JITCO), shed light on Bangladesh’s abundant skilled labor force. The Ambassador also called for Japan’s manpower recruiting agencies to consider recruiting more skilled workers from Bangladesh to meet the country’s growing demand for foreign labor.
Key Insights from the Seminar at Toshi Kaikan, Tokyo
One of the focal points of the seminar was the exploration of Bangladesh’s potential as a source of skilled human resources for Japan. Nearly 300 participants from Japanese companies, manpower recruiting organizations, and sending organizations from Bangladesh gathered at Toshi Kaikan in Tokyo to discuss this vital issue.
Ambassador Ahmed expressed his gratitude for the Japanese government’s efforts in elevating the diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Japan to a “Strategic Partnership.” This acknowledgment underscores the importance of nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship between the two nations. In a distinguished address, Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Japan, Shahabuddin Ahmad, extended a compelling invitation to Japanese business tycoons and investors, encouraging their participation in various sectors. Ambassador Ahmad underscored the potential for investment in areas such as the garment industry, leather, jute, engineering, information technology, as well as economic zones, hi-tech parks, and export processing zones in Bangladesh.
He further emphasized that the recent elevation of bilateral relations to a strategic partnership, a consequence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Japan in April of this year (2023), has broadened the scope for cooperation between Bangladesh and Japan across multiple domains, including trade, investment, and human resources. This strategic shift opens the door to a wealth of collaborative opportunities that both nations can explore and harness for mutual benefit.
Japan emerges as lucrative labour market
With several job opportunities and the scope to earn a decent living, Japan has emerged as a profitable labour market for skilled Bangladeshi migrant workers.
The strategic partnership between Bangladesh and Japan, formalized through Memorandums of Cooperation (MoC) in 2018 and 2019. It has ushered in a new era of collaboration with the introduction of Japan’s “technical intern training” and “specified skilled worker” schemes. Notably, the opportunities extend beyond the conventional, allowing Bangladeshi professionals, including professors, researchers, and engineers, to explore their careers in the Land of the Rising Sun, as indicated by the Bangladesh Embassy in Tokyo.
Despite the tremendous potential, the number of Bangladeshi workers dispatched to affluent East Asian nations, including Japan, remains disproportionately low compared to other countries that actively accept migrant workers. BMET data reveals that, between 1999 and May of the current year, Bangladesh sent a total of 3,030 migrant workers to Japan. While the initial five months of this year saw 290 individuals embarking on this journey, the preceding year witnessed 508 Bangladeshis securing employment in Japan, highlighting the scope for growth in this field.
Collaborating with BMET and the state-owned Bangladesh Overseas Employment Services Ltd (BOESL), approximately 70 private recruiting agencies are authorized to send workers to Japan.
In a recent development, Japan’s cabinet approved an ambitious plan to broaden the industries covered by the blue-collar skilled worker visa, offering a pathway to permanent residency for foreign workers. This strategic move reinforces Japan’s commitment to an inclusive and diversified workforce.
Since its inception in 1993, Japan’s technical training intern scheme has been a conduit for skill development. This program extends invitations to technical interns in various sectors, encompassing agriculture, fishery, construction, food manufacturing, textiles, machine, and metals, providing an extended stay of three to five years. Under this initiative, Bangladeshi technical interns in Japan can earn over Tk 1 lakh a month, making it an attractive prospect for prospective workers.
According to data from the Japanese foreign ministry, until June of the previous year, the Bangladeshi presence in Japan had grown to 20,954 individuals, a testament to the ongoing expansion of opportunities and mutual collaboration between the two nations.
Updated training needed
Enhancing training and instructional methods is imperative, and the duration of training courses must be extended to ensure comprehensive preparation for workers before their deployment to Japan. This proactive approach will not only equip workers with the requisite skills and knowledge but also contribute to their successful integration into the Japanese workforce.
As per reports from BMET sources, around 3,000 Bangladeshi individuals have received comprehensive training in the Japanese language, complemented by essential technical skills.
Md Salah Uddin, the Director of Training Operations at BMET, disclosed that an impressive network of some 30 technical training centers (TTCs) distributed across the country, administered by BMET, has been dedicated to delivering the requisite training. These training centers not only provide essential skills but also offer an extensive six-month course in Japanese language and culture.
Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, the Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), highlighted the ambition of Bangladesh to enter the Japanese labor market.
Furthermore, Noman pointed out the two available avenues for Bangladeshi workers to explore job opportunities in Japan, either through government channels or private recruitment agencies. Notably, he emphasized the potential for financial prosperity, with monthly earnings projected to range from $1,000 to $2,000, making this endeavor a promising path for economic growth.
As Bangladesh and Japan strengthen their partnership, their shared commitment to harnessing the potential of skilled human resources signals a bright future. With a dedicated focus on skilled workforce augmentation and mutual cooperation, the horizon unfolds with promising prospects for both nations.