When a family member travels abroad for ‘greener pasture’, there is joy among the family members because they believe on the tendency that the immigrant will rise above poverty. While some travellers with various skill sets have pre-destined purposes, many others just stray into the foreign lands looking for opportunities.
Many of these immigrants who travel to Europe and Western countries engage in menial jobs that they would not ordinarily do in Nigeria.
These jobs typically considered low in social value include street sweeping, washing dishes, gardening, care-giving, garbage collection, nannies and other domestic works.
For a Nigerian resident in Canada who prefers anonymity, circumstance and level of education push some Nigerians to the menial jobs.
He said some Nigerians that travel abroad don’t go there with the intent to engage in menial jobs. There are factors that dictate what they eventually do. He said Nigerians who are engaged in blue collar jobs at home will definitely end up doing similar jobs abroad due to their skill set.
But if some professionals in banking, engineering, legal and those in medical lines are not able to find jobs abroad that align with their experience and level of training, they will be forced to menial jobs to cope with bills. He said for instance, one-bedroom apartment in Canada is about $1,500 a month in addition to other costs and feeding. “ This is worse when there is a family, then the immigrant has to do any job to survive”.
He offered other reasons why immigrants are not able to find jobs immediately. This includes competition from nationals and other immigrants from other countries. He said there may not be opportunities in certain areas such banking, HR which will force immigrant professionals to change course and which will require another training.
He said there are opportunities in technical areas but CV must speak to that. To secure any job, he said “Accent could be a barrier. You may be speaking English but they said they cannot understand you”.
He said “if any immigrant has the experience they are looking for especially in niche area or technical area and you speak slowly, in a way they understand you, then you have created opportunity for yourself”.
Akonte Ekine, a social commentator underlined currency conversion and working systems as primary reasons Nigerians accept those jobs abroad than in Nigeria.
“Whatever a menial worker abroad is able to remit home, when converted, it turns into much money that he/she would not be able to earn in years”. According to him, most travellers work harder even in extreme cold weather abroad to earn a living and make money. However, some Nigerian workers cannot complain of exploitation in work places because of expired papers.
He also said commended the social system in most of the countries abroad. “You get whatever service you pay for, be it water or electricity”.
Martin who lives in Germany says underlining reasoning in Europe is that there is dignity in labour and the minimum wage a worker can earn is 12 Euro per hour and this rises depending on status.
“When a Nigerian man considers 12 Euro per hour and he or she has to work for eight hours which will be 96 Euro per day excluding overtime that is big money when converted to Naira”. One Euro exchanges for N1,150 in parallel market.
” If he/she works consistently for a month and his/she is diligent and not wasteful, the immigrant will save substantial amount of money and this is much money in Naira”, Martin said wondering how many people earn upto N100,000 per day in Nigeria.
However, he said for instance in Germany all the those who engage in menial jobs such as laundry, Gardening, street cleaning, security and those who repair machines are educated and licenced to do the jobs. He said the pay is attractive and there is incentive such as loans.
Alluding to a working system, Martin said any worker in Europe is respected no matter the type of work he does because he/she pays tax. “In Europe, a man who is engaged in menial job like plumbing and so on can marry medical doctor, it does not matter. What matters in Germany is not the type of job one does, but the rule of law no matter who you are”.
Tony Usidiamen, communication practitioner who underscored the dignity in labour abroad compared to Nigeria where people look down on menial workers said it is one of the major reasons people engage in menial jobs abroad.
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Well-travelled Usidiamen also said that minimum wage to menial workers is quite fair which allows them to live comfortably but not luxuriously than Nigeria. According to him, these workers also enjoy other welfare services such as health care and security