Eye on Gulf job market, Govt to launch upskill project for overseas workers

In a bid to keep Indian workers relevant in the job market of Gulf nations, the government is launching a programme to upskill and re-skill overseas workers to cope with requirements in the post-pandemic scene.

Under the new programme — dubbed Tejas, or Training in Emirate Jobs & Skills — the government has partnered with leading employers in the UAE to “train, certify and place 10,000 Indian workers in a year”and “100,000 across the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] region over the next five years”.

During his visit to Dubai earlier this month, Union MoS for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rejeev Chandrasekhar held discussions with officials and top employers in UAE to finalise the programme, which is set for an official launch next month.

Chandrasekhar told The Indian Express: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always maintained that expatriate Indians contribute significantly to India with their hard work and are critical in the strong relationship that India has with Middle East countries. Many of them have been disrupted by the pandemic and the Prime Minister has directed Skill India to help upskill and re-skill as many Indians (as possible, who are) already working there, and (those) who are seeking careers there.”

Chandrasekhar said the government has also decided to extend the programme for those who have returned to India during the pandemic, thus giving them an opportunity to return to their employers with new skills.

The international workforce mobility market opportunity for India is estimated to be 3.6 million in the next five years. Of this, 2.6 million Indians can be potentially placed in GCC countries across sectors, and the remaining in Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Far East, Russia and Malaysia, a ministry official said.

With digital skills becoming crucial for workers at different levels, it will be a significant part of the upskilling and re-skilling efforts, he said. “One of the critical elements of upskilling is to import digital skills and digitally enable our youth for employment in India and abroad. In fact, the Prime Minister has always maintained that every Indian will need digital skills in the post-Covid world,” Chandrasekhar, also MoS for Electronics and IT, said.

He said the ministry will work in cooperation with state governments, especially those sending a large number of workers to Gulf nations.

The programme, to be converged with existing skill development programmes of the Centre and state governments, will leverage the training infrastructures of the National Skill Development Corporation, ITIs, Indian Institutes of Science, and private and public skill training institutions.

“The project will provide Indian workers with requisite skills and certification as per global standards…. The programme aims to be aspirational and shall ensure to source only the best candidates from amongst the network of skill development institutions…” a note on the project says.

This is in line with Prime Minister Modi’s announcement last year that the government is mapping global skill requirements while exhorting Indian youths to skill, re-skill and upskill in order to remain relevant in the rapidly changing business environment and market conditions.

The Tejas project extends across blue-collar jobs, including electricians, plumbers, multi-skilled technicians, welders, food and beverage service operators, cooks, car/bike riders and the mid-level workforce, which includes IT, finance and healthcare professionals.

The project aims to create a bridge courses in close collaboration with Sector Skill Councils in India and employers in GCC countries. “All job roles in demand in the GCC will be reviewed from a bridging standpoint and will aim to ensure candidate readiness from an employer’s perspective,” the ministry official said. “Further, training on soft skills as well as pre-departure orientation focusing on foreign language, cultural issues, country acclimatisation, etc, will ensure smooth transition of migrant workers to destination countries.”