Free training and skills development project rolled out for blue-collar segment by Indian Consulate in Dubai.
With nearly 9 million Indians working across the Gulf states – ranging from blue-collar workers to top CEOs and entrepreneurs – India remains a vital source of human capital for the six countries that comprise the GCC. Of these, the biggest concentration of the Indian expat workforce lies in the UAE, with more than 3 million Indians.
Not only is the UAE one of the biggest employers of Indian expats but also migrant workers based in the country remit a large part of their earnings back to India. In 2018, remittances from the UAE reached $18.5 billion – nearly 20% of India’s total inbound remittances of $79 billion, as per World Bank and Reserve Bank of India data. Although the scale of those remittances fluctuate with crises such as the coronavirus pandemic, yet it constitutes almost two percent of India’s GDP and provides a crucial cushion in India’s balance of payments.
Against this backdrop, the Indian Consulate in Dubai has drawn up ambitious plans to retrain and upskill blue-collar Indian workers in the UAE to help them better navigate the challenges of the job market in a post-pandemic era.
“We are planning to work with key stakeholders in making sure that the [Indian] workforce here can be upskilled and retrained for the job requirements in the post-COVID scenario,” Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai, was quoted as saying by Gulf News after the 16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations at the consulate.
According to Dr Puri, the comprehensive development plan will help blue-collar workers significantly improve their employability as well as equip them with the new skills required for job markets in the wake of the pandemic. “Many of them [Indian workers] have lost jobs. Some may require to be retrained in other areas where there is availability of jobs. In a post-COVID world, we have to be willing to be retrained, improve ourselves and meet new demands. Once they are upskilled and retrained, they will get better jobs. It is a win-win situation for employers and workers, which in turn will help boost the economy of both the countries,” Dr Puri told the newspaper.
From IT skills, teaching language and training on soft skills to partnering with educational and training institutions for more in-depth courses, the consulate aims to work as a catalyst – along with a team of volunteers and community organisations – to offer these programmes free of cost, Dr Puri said.
Earlier this month, the consulate rolled out another unique initiative whereby the Consul General will visit and host a special breakfast with Indian workers in the UAE. As part of the first “Breakfast with the Consul General” – a community outreach programme that will be held on the first Friday of every month in association with the Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK) – Dr Puri visited the workers’ accommodation of Larsen and Toubro Limited in Dubai Investment Park on January 1 to celebrate the New Year with more than 200 workers.
India and the UAE have also jointly initiated a pilot project for skill certification, and the mobility of workers under the Harmonised Framework for Skill. As one of the key agreements of India’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with the UAE, the project is being implemented by India’s National Skills Development Corporation and the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).
The whole gamut of these projects will not only enable Indian workers to secure better jobs and wages but also improve their quality of life and competitiveness in a challenging job market as well as strengthen the India-GCC migration corridor – while continuing to provide a crucial cushion in India’s balance of payments.
“The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) calls it the second-busiest migration corridor in the world after the Mexico-US corridor,” noted Navdeep Suri, Director of the Centre for New Economic Diplomacy (CNED) at the Observer Research Foundation and former Indian Ambassador to the UAE, and Manish Kumar, CEO of the National Skills Development Corporation. “The UAE’s leadership often acknowledges that Indians have played a key role in building the country. From shining skyscrapers such as the Burj Khalifa to the vast retail, construction and financial sectors — the Indian footprint is omnipresent in the UAE,” they said in a special report for the foundation.