Labor Exchange & Remittances

Labor Exchange & Remittances

With over 40,000 new labor market entrants every year in an Afghan market already characterized by high unemployment and high underemployment (22.4% and 16.4%, respectively), the inclusion of skills and job promotion targets in all National Priority Programs is needed urgently, with a special focus on addressing widespread job losses in rural areas. Through the National Labor Migration Strategy (2015-2018) and National Labor Policy (2016-2020), the Government of Afghanistan works to gain legal and regular access to foreign labor markets, including several that remain unexplored for Afghan workers. In particular, the Afghan Government seeks to place around 250,000 new recruits into short term itinerant employment in the Gulf States, Central, and South Asia to boost the economy, bolster livelihoods, shore up the macro economy, and foster skills development. To achieve progress on labor migration will, at a minimum, require: i) ensuring legal access through bilateral labor agreements; and ii) strengthening Afghan institutional and technical capacities to increase the number of qualified Afghan workers who are also certified to work in destination countries under decent work conditions. A transparent and widely accepted regional strategy or coordination platform would also enable more clear and concrete cooperation on cross-border labor support at the regional level.

Current Status

In support of regional labor exchange and increased remittances to Afghanistan, the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs, and the Disabled, along with World Bank and European Union financial and technical cooperation, is currently planning for the skills enhancement and employability of Afghan workers through Technical Education and Vocational Training (TEVT) programs and “Labor Dispatch” to near-by countries in the region. Under the project, the World Bank aims to facilitate employment opportunities for some 2000 Afghan workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The Ministry is also organizing a National Labor Conference, in December 2017, to advance Afghanistan’s labor policy.  Moreover, employment services centers have been established in major Afghan cities, and the new “Asan Khedmat” project is expected to bring more transparency to foreign and local work permit processes. This project also aims to establish a Labor Market Information System (LMIS) to facilitate access to the updated labor market information and data. In 2018, along with the ILO, UNDP, and UNHCR, the Afghan Government will undertake an integrated, comprehensive national labor market assessment to identify the country’s skills needs within its regional economic context. These efforts will serve to reinforce—in addition to the National Labor Migration Strategy and National Labor Policy—the Afghan Government’s National Priority Programs on Human Capital Development—including national skills development—and Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Budget & Funding Status Regular budget support to the Afghan Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs, and Disabled
Institutional Partners Afghanistan (Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs, and Disabled; Ministry of Education; and the Ministry of Public Works), Gulf States, Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, Iran, India, and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries

Recommended Actions by RECCA-VII and Beyond:

  • Finalize a model bilateral agreement on labor support.
  • Within the regional platform of RECCA yet drawing on other regional consultations, develop a regional labor exchange and support strategy to incentivize greater cross-border labor market cooperation, including in the areas of skills development, labor dispatch, protection, and return, and common employment standards and conditions.