Jeddah: The outflow of Indian migrants to the Gulf region has slackened while return migration has increased due to economic slowdowns, fluctuating oil prices, and changes in Gulf labour policies. The future of India-Gulf migration has been further clouded by Covid pandemic, which poses unprecedented health and livelihoods challenges for the lakhs of Indians working in the Gulf, as well as for the families that depend on them.
For Ponnam Satyam, an employee of a leading hotel in the housekeeping department in Dubai, life was good till he returned home last year. A native of Metpally town in Telangana district, he struggled hard to channelise his skills since his return to India.
A person with multiple talents is still in a state of dilemma. A small leg up can help him land a decent job in Hyderabad or can turn him into a small-scale entrepreneur.
Mohammed Shahid Majeed, an engineering graduate from Hyderabad who came to Dubai with bright dreams but was unable to find a suitable job in his discipline, finally settled as a safety officer contrary to his academic qualifications.
Against this backdrop, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement in her Budget 2021-22 speech that the youth of the country have abundant skills and it needs proper channelisation holds out some hope for such people. The government also plans to re-align the existing National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) for training graduates and diploma holders in engineering, and an initiative is already underway in partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to benchmark skill qualifications, assessments and certification accompanied by the deployment of certified workforce. Similar steps need to be taken in the other Gulf States too.
In a difficult task of skill mapping exercise and providing employment opportunities to NRIs returning home, the government initiated SWADES (Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support) to provide employment opportunities to them under the Vande Bharat Mission.
SWADES, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs aims to create a database of qualified citizens based on their skill sets and experience to tap into and fulfill the demand of Indian and foreign companies.
Experts believe that the daunting task of generating employment opportunities for NRI returnees can’t be achieved by the government alone, but needs the active participation of the NRI community.
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