Pakistan manpower
More than half a million Pakistanis left their country to work abroad in 2019. Image Credit: Social media

Dubai: Pakistan’s export of manpower recorded a huge surge in the year 2019 as more than half-a-million people left the country to work abroad — mostly they went to Gulf countries.

A total of 563,018 Pakistani workers went overseas for employment in 2019 compared to 382,439 in 2018, registering a massive increase of 180,579 people. Labourers topped the list of workers who went abroad with the total number at 214,000 (almost 38 per cent) in 2019. A whopping number of 130,000 Pakistanis (almost 28 per cent) also went abroad to work as drivers this year — they went mostly to Gulf countries. Those who went abroad included 1.56 per cent highly skilled workers and 2.53 per cent highly qualified workers.

UAE remains the favourite destination

United Arab Emirates continues to be the favourite place to work for Pakistanis; more than 185,000 Pakistani workers came to the UAE on employment visas during the first 11 months of 2019.

Although the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (MOPHRD) is taking credit for sending so many people abroad, other sources indicated that a financial crunch and the level of unemployment in Pakistan are some of the main reasons for such a large number of workers going abroad to earn a living.

According to the statistics shared by the MOPHRD, as many as 11,052663 people have left Pakistan to work abroad in the last five years (since 2015). During the last five years, the maximum number of people, i.e 946,571, left Pakistan to work abroad in 2015 while the minimum number of 382,439 workers got foreign work visas in 2018.

“UAE continues to generate a lot of job opportunities for overseas workers and it remains the vibrant source of employment for Pakistanis due to its dynamic economy and rapid development,” an official at the Ministry told Gulf News recently.

He said that the recent MoUs signed between the UAE and Pakistan have also made it easier for Pakistanis to find jobs in the UAE.

The number of Pakistanis being employed in the UAE could even be higher, as this figure is based on statistics sourced from the Pakistan Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment, which registers every employee going abroad on work permit. Many people also come to the UAE on visit visas and change their visa status to work permit, which is normally not registered back home.

More Pakistanis find jobs in Saudi Arabia

However, an even larger number of Pakistanis have gone to work in Saudi Arabia during the first 10 months of this year. The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (MOPHRD) has assisted over 258,215 Pakistanis to proceed Saudi Arabia for prospective job opportunities in various sectors.

Digital platform

Recently, Bukhari had formally requested Saudi authorities to enhance the Pakistani manpower in multibillion dollars’ project of New Taif City of the Kingdom. He said Saudi Arabia had also extended an offer to aid in Pakistani manpower’s export through ‘Musaned’- a digital platform launched by the Kingdom to facilitate labour recruitment process and ensure their rights protection.

The MOPHRD is also in process of linking up its digital portal with the UAE to set up direct link between its job seekers and foreign employers, APP, Pakistan’s official news agency reported.

The initiative would eventually minimise the middleman’s role in recruitment process and help the country to train its workforce as per the international markets’ demand.