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Kerala offers sops to firms recruiting Saudi returnees
November 11, 2013, 12:08 pm

The Kerela government has initiated measures to help Keralites returning from Saudi Arabia find jobs, in the wake of implementation of the Nitaqat labour law there.


With its scheme for self-employment finding few takers, the Kerala government has initiated measures to help Keralites returning from Saudi Arabia due to the implementation of the Nitaqat labour law there find jobs either in the state or in other countries in the Gulf.

As part of the initiatives to create employment for the returnees within the state, the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs Department (Norka) has announced various incentives for employers hiring them. The incentives include interest subsidy on loans and easier clearance for projects.

The incentives will be available to the firms, which hire at least 25 per cent of their fresh recruitments from among the Saudi returnees. A senior Norka official said that the state government had also a scheme to provide training to the returnees to upgrade their skills according to the jobs available to them.

He said the re-integration of the returnees in the domestic market or their re-migration to the Gulf would not be difficult since they have acquired some skills and experience while in Saudi Arabia. They need only to be honed to suit to the new jobs.

Moreover job opportunities in the state have vastly improved over the years. The state is now depending on migrants from other states for a large number of unskilled and skilled jobs in the state. The number of migrants working in the state now is almost equivalent to Keralites working abroad.

The wages of the workers have also gone up considerably. In some cases it is even better than the wages prevailing in some of the Gulf countries. An unskilled worker in the state today gets Rs600 per day, which is comparable to the status in most Gulf countries.

Experts say if the returnees were prepared to take up the jobs now being done by the migrants from other states, they will be able to lead a decent living within the state. But majority of the returnees are not reconciled to working in the state. Most of them want to go back to the Gulf as a job abroad enhances their social status back home.

The government is seeking the help of NRK investors in the Gulf to help find jobs for such people. It is planning to convene a meeting of prominent investors in the Middle East in this regard. The government has already held one round of discussions with them.

In the light of the poor response received from the returnees to its earlier initiatives, the state government has also revised the current scheme for self-employment by offering a wide range of opportunities to encourage the returnees to initiate ventures that suit their skills.

The present scheme provides for appointment of nodal officers in various departments to guide those who wish to start new ventures. All departments have been directed to give priority to the Nitaqat returnees in their employment-support programmes and welfare schemes.

Experts feel that the soft loan scheme introduced by the government in the wake of the global economic slowdown had failed to attract the returnees because the NRKs were not confident about the investment atmosphere in the state.

Prof S. Irudaya Rajan of the Centre for Development Studies said that the state has a lot to do to make it investor-friendly. Prof Rajan, who has done several studies on the migrants, said the government should have taken the feedback of the NRKs before finalising the schemes.

Norka secretary, Rani George, said that the self-employment scheme was drawn up in consultation with Norka Roots board members, who include NRKs familiar with the condition of Keralites working in the Gulf. She said the government would clear the projects only after assessing their feasibility. This, she says, will minimise the risk.

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