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Workshop on returning migrants & their re-integration in the economy.

Workshop on Returning Migrants & their Re-integration in the Economy


The outmigration of Pakistani workers, particularly to Middle East started early 1970's reaching its climax in 1983. After that, due to slowing down of the developmental activities in oil exporting countries, emigration gradually declined. Now, it is believed that inflow of the returning migrants exceeds the outflow. As a result, the problem of unemployment which had been eased due to outmigration in 1970's and early 1980's should bounce back with enlarged impact.

The unemployment problem of returning Pakistanis is a bit different from ordinary job-seekers. The returning Pakistanis may have some savings to invest. They can start independent business. Some of them are anticipated to be more skilled than those remaining in the country and their absorption in the economy might be easier. However, lack of full information may stand in the way of their re-employment. Better utilization of their services may help not only their re-employment but also provision of jobs to others. This workshop was organised by the Pakistan Manpower Institute Islamabad in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung of Germany to discuss problems of the returning Pakistanis.


The Workshop was inaugurated by Mr. Wasim Sajjad, Chairman, Senate. He thanked initially the Ministry of Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, the National Manpower Institute and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung of Germany for taking interest in human factor. As this is the fourth forum during the last 10 days, dealing in one way or the other, with the same subject, the efforts of the sponsoring agencies are commendable. These efforts are commendable also as the Government is eager to find ways and means to make more productive use of human resources.

The Overseas Pakistanis have helped, at least, temporarily to reduce some key problems of the country. Open and disguised unemployment has been significantly reduced, particularly of the educated and trained workers. Our planners and policy makers have been provided some time to think and redesign our development policies to make employment oriented. Unfortunately, the opportunity provided by our workers' migration was not utilized properly while the return flow started. Now, it is putting pressure on the domestic labour market and an easily available source of foreign exchange is being reduced. Government efforts through three D's namely decentralization, deregulation and denationalization should generate significant employment opportunities.

Earlier Welcome Address was read by Dr. Jameelur Rehman Khan, Additional Secretary, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis Division. Now most pressing problem connected with human factor is the reintegration of the returning migrants within the national mainstream and their absorption in the social, economic and professional sectors.

Population of Pakistan, now over 110 million, is increasing at an alarming rate of over 3 per cent a year. This is serious threat to neutralize all over development efforts. There is a strong need to consider this problem by all those connected with it particularly those engaged in training and mobilization of human resources.

Since 1974, overseas migration has provided the country with a safety net to resolve the emerging employment and manpower development issues. A large outflow of workers has reduced pressure on the domestic labour market. In addition, it helped ease balance of payments pressure. Also, average worker's household income has improved. The return flow of workers has helped re-emergence of the unemployment problem. However, productive re-absorption of returning workers and effective use of their savings can help reduce the impact of the under utilization of country's manpower.


There were four high quality papers read in the Workshop. Mr. Khalid Hayat and Mr. Nasim Qamar read a paper on "Nature and Extent of Return Flow of Overseas Workers". Migration of Asian workers to the Middle East has been unique as they have been mostly contract workers for a specific period for specific projects and not allowed to take their families with them nor to purchase any property in the host countries. During 1978-83, about one third of the incremental labour force of Pakistan went to Middle East. Such ratios, in 1982, were 45 per cent for the Philippines, 40 per cent for South Korea, 26 per cent for Thailand, 33 per cent for Sri Lanka and 50 per cent for the Kerala State of India. From 1971 to 1990 from Pakistan the outflow of labour force was 16,88,185 and the total of unemployed workers during this period was estimated at 12.24 million. As such, the out-migration of workers to the Middle East absorbed about 13.8 per cent of unemployed workers.

With regard to skill composition, data are available for five years ending 1990. About 38.7 per cent of the 415,377 emigrants were unskilled, 1 per cent semi-skilled, 50.9 per cent skilled, 2.1 per cent highly skilled and 7.3 per cent professional. Since 1982, the outflow has been on the decline while returnees have been increasing. According to a survey conducted from 1982 to 1987 (except 1983) average annual inflow of migrant workers was 106,954 and average outflow 92,935 meaning net inflow of 14,019 workers. In the paper an analysis has also been given of average stay abroad, average age and place of residence in Pakistan. Their professions are also analysed.

Mr. Izatullah Khan, Deputy Director, Pakistan Manpower Institute read a paper on "Micro Economic Analysis of Return Migrants and their Re-absorption in the Labour Market". The paper has seven analytical sections as: 1. Introduction; 2. Analysis of age-structure and its implications in economic development; 3. Education and occupation-wise analysis of return migrants and its role in employment generation; 4. New skill acquisition and the analysis of skilled, semi-skilled and highly skilled return migrants; 5. Remittances, income, savings and investment level analysis and its impact on the employment creation for the return migrants; 6. The analysis of employment, unemployment and return migrants; And 7. Conclusion and Policy recommendations.

Most of the returnees are in the 36-40 age group. About 5 per cent in 21-25 years, 16.3 per cent in 26-30 years, 22.1 per cent in 31-35 years, 26.1 per cent in 36-40 years, 16.6 per cent in 41-45 years, 10.8 per cent in 36-50 years and 3.1 per cent above 50 years. In education, 33.7 per cent are illiterate, 23.5 per cent primary, 14.1 per cent Middle, 19.5 per cent Matric, 6.2 per cent F.A. and 2.7 per cent above. With regard to occupation 30.4 per cent are labour, 18.5 per cent professionals and 51.1 per cent skilled. Their training has also been analysed. With regard to income abroad 22.9 per cent had income below Rs. 4,000, 19.5 per cent between Rs. 4,000-6,000, 17.5 per cent between Rs. 6,000-8,000, 22.7 per cent between Rs. 8,000-10,000 and 16.8 per cent above Rs. 10,000. After that analysis covers income after return from abroad, average monthly expenditure of return migrants, average monthly savings, use of savings and investment.

Dr. A.R. Kamal, Chief of Research, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics read a paper on "Identification of the Potential Sectors and Areas for Gainful Absorption of the Returning Migrants". In introduction the author complains that timely and adequate attention was not paid to the returning Pakistanis. The emphasis of the author is to solve the problem in the light of gross number of returnees rather than the net returnees. The number of gross returnees at 115,668, 139,284 and 116,028 in 1982, 1985 and 1986 respectively was serious. The problem of net migrants was serious only from 1985 to 1987. In one section the author has analysed the profession aspects of the return migrants. In another section their stay abroad has been analysed and in another section by age groups. At the end, the author has tried to identify the sectors and areas where the returning Pakistanis can be absorbed. At the end of the paper conclusions and recommendations are given.

Dr. Shahnaz Kazi read a paper on "Returning Migrants and their Reintegration - The Experience of Other countries." In this paper, some interesting facts and figures have been collected in respect of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines and Thailand for the period 1977-1987. With regard to the outflow of contract migrant workers to the Middle East, Philippines provided highest number of workers 306,757 in 1987, followed by India at 121,812. Third position was occupied by Thailand with 74,921 workers and fourth by Pakistan with 69,340. There is an interesting table on home remittance. Latest position for all countries is given for 1985. From the Middle East, Pakistan headed the list with $2069 million, followed by India with $ 1442 million and third by South Korea with $ 1242 million. There is also a table on the skill-mix of the migrant workers from these countries. Savings/Investment as percentage of home remittances are given for 5 countries.


In the concluding session of the Seminar, two groups of competent delegates were formed to identify the problems of Returning Pakistanis and recommend measures to re-absorb them in the National Economy. Their important recommendations are given below:

Group I: 1. An information system should be developed to provide the returning migrants with a package of alternatives for re-absorption in rural areas. 2. Comprehensive Labour Market Information should be developed which should include vocational guidance, employment counselling, consolidation and analysis of data; 3. In order to overcome rural unemployment agrobased, agro-allied and small industries should be set up, elementary education should be universalised, credit facilities should be expanded and fiscal incentives and socio-physical infrastructure given.

Group II: 4. The returning Pakistanis should be guided properly through setting up of guiding agencies, provision of printed material and strengthening employment exchanges with requisite information. 5. Job opportunities should be expanded by reducing retirement age to 55 years, industrialization, identification of job potentials, comprehensive national employment strategy, encouraging investment, and promoting small business and self-employment. 6. Investment should be encouraged through channelisation of migrant savings, simplification of procedures, linking of institutional facilities with migrants', savings, provision of supervised loans and credits, opening of special counters in banks, and other agencies and to encourage import of modern agricultural and other professional equipment. 7. Vocational training should be expanded through strengthening of existing institutions, training should be according to the demand for jobs, skills should be upgraded, and National Training Bureau should supervise the entire process. 8. Overseas labour market should be monitored by making embassies provide information, appointment of monitoring officers abroad, conducting surveys abroad, and search for overseas employment, and 9. Problems should be publicised and adjustments made public and the agencies involved should provide proper guidance.
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Title Annotation:Special Issue: Industrial Relations in Pakistan '91
Author:Khan, Abdul Majid
Publication:Economic Review
Date:May 1, 1991
Previous Article:Returning migrants and their re-integration: the experience of other countries.
Next Article:Development of small-scale industries in Pakistan.

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