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Dhaka     Tuesday   23 July 2024

Bangladesh should penetrate deeply into Romania labour market

Imtiaz Ahmed     || risingbd.com

Published: 16:47, 5 June 2024   Update: 16:52, 5 June 2024
Bangladesh should penetrate deeply into Romania labour market

Bangladesh should penetrate deeply into the labour market of Romania as the economy of the East European country would require over 600,000 expat workers by 2030 to keep going well, diplomatic sources in Dhaka and Bucharest said.

The labour market in Romania faces significant challenges, including an aging population, insufficient investment in workforce development, and significant emigration, the Bucharest Center for Economy & Society (CES Bucharest) said.

As the labour crisis deepens in the east European country, Romania's government has increased the quota of labour permits in case of non-EU residents to the tune of 140,000 in 2024 that was 100,000 in 2023. The decision was based on an estimated number of 500,000 vacancies. Until October 9, 2023, the government of Romania issued a total of 80,375 employment permits.

According to newspapers in Bucharest, the demand for highly specialised workers in Romania is expected to soar, with an estimated 624,000 additional positions needing to be filled by 2030, CES Bucharest said recently. 

However, only 1% of the population aged 25-64 participates in vocational training courses, compared to the European average of 9.1 per cent.

The demand for people with medium and low level of qualification will rise by more than 400,000 people by 2030, according to data reviewed by the think tank.

Additionally, the aging population is expected to triple the number of active people over 65 in the next decade, with a 10% increase in this demographic reducing gross domestic product (GDP) growth per capita by 5.5%.

Also, the labour market is witnessing a decline in the number of young active workers, with projections indicating a potential 3.5% decrease in the age group of 20-34 by 2035 compared to 2020 levels.

Migration is another significant factor impacting the labour market. Romania ranks 17th globally in terms of population migration, with over 5.7 million Romanians opting to work abroad.

Meanwhile, the Romanian government issued 42,000 South Asian migrants work visas in 2023, according to the Romanian Border Police told InfoMigrants.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka emerged as the top country on the list, with 11,429 Sri Lankans granted long-term work visas in 2023, reflecting a notable 56.2% increase from the previous year. This rise is attributed to an economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka, prompting citizens to seek opportunities abroad for a better life.

Bangladesh ranked second, with 11,138 Bangladeshi immigrants arriving in Romania with visas in 2023, marking a significant 27.5% increase from the preceding year. Some of that increase is fueled by political conflicts, accusations of authoritarian rule, climate change-induced displacement, and economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh.

Nepal stood at third place, with 9,715 Nepali citizens entering Romania on work visas in 2023. The numbers of Nepalese entering Romania in 2023 slightly decreased compared to data from the previous year.

There was a slight increase in the numbers of Pakistanis and Indians who entered Romania in 2023, compared to the numbers of those nationals entering in 2022.

When it comes to higher education, fewer students from South Asian countries chose Romania compared to those obtaining work visas. In 2023, only 829 people from South Asia arrived to study in Romania -- an increase by 14.3% compared to 2022, when 725 students arrived.

Among the students who entered Romania last year, there were 461 Bangladeshis, 185 Indians, 130 Pakistanis, 40 Sri Lankans, and 13 Nepali citizens.

Nepalese and Sri Lankan workers are quite popular in Romania  while Indian and Pakistani workers are also  in the race to capture the labour market of the East European country.

The Romanian authorities say they have detained individuals from Bangladesh, Nepal, and other nationalities attempting irregular border crossings into neighboring Hungary and Serbia. In 2023, 1,222 immigrants from various countries, including 397 Bangladeshis, were forcibly deported from Romania.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s  export to Romania posted 210 per cent growth during the July-March period during 2023-24 fiscal year. Bangladesh exported goods worth 122.95 million US dollars during July—March period of 2023-24  as against 39.72 million US dollars  during July—March period of 2022-23 fiscal year.        

However, Bangladesh’s exports reached Romania through the third country –namely Turkey and Germany, sources said. Bangladesh has been working closely with stakeholders of Romania to send goods directly to the east European country  that will help  increase export earnings by 300.00-400.00 per cent.

The  then Romanian Ambassador to India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, Daniela Sezonov Tene, expressed concerns about Bangladeshi nationals mis-using work permit visas during a meeting with the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI) delegation in Dhaka in December 2022.

After a decade of waiting, Romania will partially enter the Schengen zone -- a group of European countries that have largely abolished checks on their mutual borders -- from March 31 this year. To comply with Schengen regulations, Romania has intensified its border surveillance and its efforts to detain migrants attempting to enter Hungary -- the westward Schengen neighbor of Romania -- without the correct papers. However, Romania's and Bulgaria's entry into the free travel zone will only apply to sea and air -- meaning that checks will not be abolished at their land borders.

Meanwhile, the then Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dr AK Abdul  Momen, in December 2022,  said that Romania will recruit one lakh foreign workers including Bangladeshis, mostly for the construction sector.

“People started going to Romania from 2021. Over one lakh, mostly construction workers, will be hired next year. It's good news for Bangladesh too. As like before, they [Romania] will open a temporary consulate office here to recruit from Bangladesh,” he told journalists. 

Following bilateral consultation between the ministers for foreign affairs of the two countries in October 2021, Romania agreed to open a temporary consular office in Dhaka.

Earlier in 1975, Bangladesh opened its first mission in Romania but it was shut down in 1995, while Romania closed its mission in Bangladesh in 2000. Bangladesh has reopened its embassy recently.

“Earlier Bangladeshis had to go to India to get Romanian visas. With the efforts of our government, Romania opened a temporary consular office in Dhaka, and our workers are benefiting from it,” Md Shahidul Alam, the then  director general of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), said in 2022.

Meanwhile, foreign citizens need a work permit to work in Romania unless they are from the European Union (EU). Any non-EU citizens will need to apply before they can find work in Romania. 

“There are several types of work permits that can be granted to foreign citizens: for permanent workers, seasonal workers, for trainees, for athletes, for cross-border workers, nominal work permit. Depending on the category of your activity, the right to extend your temporary stay for employment purposes can be extended up to 1 year, as a general rule. As far as highly skilled workers are concerned, their stay can be extended up to 2 years,” explains a Romanian government website

The writer is a senior journalist