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Kerala plans recruitment for Gulf through state agency

Sajila Saseendran / 11 May 2012

The government of Kerala in India plans to channel the recruitment of skilled workers from the state to the UAE and other Gulf countries through a company owned by the state labour ministry.

The nearly defunct Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC) Limited, which has been in existences for 35 years, will be overhauled to be the official channel for recruiting Keralites abroad, said the state’s Minister of Labour, Shibu Baby John.

In an exclusive interview to Khaleej Times during his recent visit to the UAE, the minister said he will strive to get the UAE government’s nod for making ODEPC the only approved agency for recruitment of skilled workers from Kerala in the coming years.

“My father (Baby John) who was the labour minister earlier, wanted to do the same in 1997. However, he fell ill and passed away subsequently. Nothing materialized for the next 15 years. Now, I’m taking up the same mission and we are geared to do a complete overhaul of the overseas recruitment of Keralite workers,” he said.

Though millions of Keralites have been employed in the GCC and elsewhere since the inception of ODEPC, John said the facility benefitted hardly 6,000 job seekers, mainly those employed in the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia.

“The whole intention of the government was to eliminate middle men by promoting recruitment through ODEPC. That is what we want to do now.”

John, who held a presentation on the objectives of ODEPC for Indian businessmen at the Indian Consulate in Dubai, said the upcoming levels of discussions would be directed to the UAE government through India’s central government.

“It is one of my top priorities,” he said.

After identifying the stagnancy in the labour market in the state, the minister said that ODEPC was chosen as the platform for lessening the ‘skill gap’ and to help recruit the right candidates as per the requirements of the international industry standards.

The plan is to offer industry-specific skill development training and language courses to unemployed youth to equip them better for employment by reputed organisations abroad. “We are also eyeing large scale job opportunities opening up in Asean countries,” said John.

The Ministry has already announced tying up with the Dubai government’s project Smart City in Kochi, to set up the Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence (KASE) to offer skill development programmes in various sectors.

“It will be a training institute of international repute to offer skill development in different fields mainly in IT, banking and financial sectors,” said John who also met Smart City officials in Dubai.

According to him, there are 4.3million unemployed people who have registered with the employment exchanges in the state. Of these, 2.2million are aged between 18 and 35.

“We are going to revamp the employment exchanges and rename them as employability centres. We will link their data base with ODEPC so that when there is a potential employer, he can pick the right candidates who have registered through the employability centres and have received special training for upgrading their skills through ODEPC. We are starting a job portal for ODEPC and there will be online registration for the unemployed,” he said.

“My dream is a day when an unemployed youth is able to register himself with our facility where his skills and gaps will be analysed and he will be given training and eventually get the right employment opportunity through the government.”

John said the government was also working on revamping the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to offer virtual class rooms and digitised learning materials. “We are implementing the project in 22 ITIs this academic year.”


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