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Overseas workers

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Afghan government has expedited work over the mechanism of sending skilled workforce to the foreign countries, especially the Arab states. The first major batch of skilled laborers will be dispatch to Saudi Arabia soon. According to the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled (MoLSAMD), Riyadh had agreed to accommodate 25,000 Afghan laborers into the job market. The green signal in this regard was received by President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani during his telephonic conversation with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz. Indeed it is a good news for skilled but jobless Afghans to celebrate. This opportunity will not only benefit the public but the government as well.

The benefits are two-fold. One, it will help in combating poverty while providing employment opportunities to jobless people in foreign lands. Second, it will pave the ground for increasing the amount of remittances. Expatriate Afghan workers are sending millions of US dollars every year to their families. Mostly this huge amount goes to Pakistan. Perhaps, it is the main reason that banks in Pakistan are expanding and welcoming the remittances. However, Afghan banks are not doing well in this aspect due to lack of guarantees and corruption factor. The Kabul Bank scandal is a good epitome in this regard. The scandal had sent a wave of concerns among the expats.

Therefore, the Afghan leadership should ponder over the issue seriously and explore ways to restore trust of the expats over the Afghan banking system and government. Furthermore, the MoLSAMD shall organize special training programs for the skilled laborers to prepare them for foreign job markets before they leave for abroad. They shall also be briefed over laws of the respective countries and how to build positive image of Afghanistan through hard work and honesty. The 25,000 Afghans should know about their rights and duties in Saudi Arabia.

In addition to that the government should find more job markets in the Middle East for Afghan workers. If necessary, Kabul should sign agreements with the host countries to double the number of Afghan workforce. However, it is also necessary to produce skilled workforce at the technical side. The ministry of social welfare shall not only focus on sending masons and smiths but engineers, IT managers and doctors as well. In order to do so, there is need for considerable changes in the curriculum because most of the textbooks are outdated.

The good news is that Ministry of Higher Education is working on this. It has established a skill development center for university students in Nangarhar. The center will play significant role in improving skills of the students related to the field of their studies. More such institutes should be established to bridge the gap and provide the required workforce to the job markets.