A visiting Indian minister has encouraged blue-collar workers in the UAE to learn new skills to get better-paying jobs.
V Muraleedharan, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, met about 100 men and women at a training centre for Indian workers organised at the Delhi Private School (DPS), Jebel Ali, on Wednesday.
The initiative was a part of a programme to help workers advance their careers.
The new skills, including computer literacy, would help them secure greater employment opportunities, he told the workers.
Learning basic English and Arabic would also help in daily life when they need to make a doctor's appointment or ask for assistance in a store, he said. Mr Muraleedharan was on a three-day visit to the UAE.
“During these Covid times we want to overcome [difficulties] and move ahead," he said.
The centre, which opened on Wednesday, will teach computer literacy, English and Arabic to workers in the UAE.
The programme won praise from those attending, who said it could help them move ahead at work.
"I'm grateful for getting an opportunity to learn English, Arabic and computer skills. I'm sure I will get my dream job one day," one worker, who did not give his name, told the minister, winning a round of applause from those gathered.
Mr Muraleedharan said his government was working with state authorities in India to prepare a database to help find employment for workers who returned home during the pandemic.
Hundreds of thousands of workers returned to India from the UAE when offices shut during restrictions in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
Earlier, in a meeting with Abu Dhabi residents at the Indian embassy on Tuesday, Mr Muraleedharan said leaders of both countries were in constant touch to address issues related to the pandemic.
“We have kept close contact with the UAE during the pandemic so that we can co-ordinate closely to assist our community in the UAE and tackle the extraordinary pain inflicted by the pandemic on the world, including our two countries,” he said.
Mr Muraleedharan thanked the UAE for supporting the Indian community during the summer when India grounded international flights to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“The UAE took exceptional care of the 3.5 million Indians living in this country and I take this opportunity to thank the UAE leadership for their benevolence to the Indian community here,” he said.
“The UAE leadership ensured that during the period of lockdown in India, the Indian community here was looked after. Later, they ensured orderly travel for Indians who wished to go back to India."
He said both nations would continue to work to strengthen bilateral ties and improve relations.
Dr Aman Puri, the consul general of India in Dubai, urged employers to come forward and be a part of a mission to tackle post-Covid challenges.
Describing it as a “win-win situation” for workers and employers, he said the consulate would facilitate the initiative for blue-collar employees.
Dinesh Kothari, chairman of DPS Society in Dubai, said the aim was to create a model for the welfare of workers where schools and colleges would partner with industry to design courses.
DPS is the first school to be part of the programme.
The Indian High School, Sharjah Indian School and Bits Pilani will also partner with the Indian consulate in Dubai.
Mr Muraleedharan has also met leaders in the UAE for talks with a special focus on issues related to the welfare of Indian workers.
He will meet community members at the consulate in Dubai on Thursday to launch the Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra mobile phone app to help overseas workers.
The app will be available in several Indian languages, with the option of calling back workers in need.
It aims to provide guidance and information to workers who do not have computers but can log on using their mobile phones.