No. of Indian Blue-Collared Workers Seeking Jobs Overseas Falls

The number of Indian workers going overseas is falling due to the slowing construction business in most West Asian countries, besides other factors.


The number of Indian workers going overseas for blue-collared jobs has been falling, according to data released by the Ministry of External Affairs, Overseas Employment division. A total of 391,024 Indians were given emigration clearances to work overseas in 2017, as compared to 520,938 in 2016. In 2015, the number of clearances given was 784,152.

The number of emigration clearances given until February 2018 is 60,300, while the corresponding figure in 2015 was 146,163.  Indians traveled for work to 18 countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar. Some of the top job roles in 2017 were that of a mason, labor, carpenter, helper, and electrician, according to government figures.

The top five destination countries for Indian workers in 2017 were the UAE, with 149,962 people getting jobs there, followed by Saudi Arabia, at 78,611 workers. The corresponding figures for Kuwait, Oman and Qatar were 56,380 53,332 and 24,759, respectively. Bahrain attracted 11,516 Indian workers, while Malaysia and Jordan saw an influx of 14,002 and 2,341 Indian workers, respectively.

The trend that the number of Indian workers flying overseas for employment is going down can be seen from the 2016 figures. A total of 163,716 Indian workers went to the UAE for work that year, while 165,355 people went to Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait (72,384) and Oman (63,236).

The Indian city from where the highest emigration clearance was obtained in 2017 was Mumbai, with 170,787 clearances. In 2016, the corresponding figure for Mumbai was 231,609, while in 2015 it was nearly the double of 2017, with 353,591, according to the government statistics.

Several factors have been attributed to the falling trend of Indian workers going overseas for employment. One of the reasons is the slowing construction business in most West Asian countries, along with a crackdown on foreign workers to create jobs for their citizens.

Several engineers of foreign nationality in Kuwait who have to renew their work visas have been left confused after the country’s Public Authority for Manpower, which had introduced a new regulation, enforced it suddenly on March 15.  According to the regulation that was circulated to all labor departments a few days ago, expatriate engineers will be unable to renew their work visas until they get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSE).

“We can’t expect same destinations will keep on bringing the jobs. When crisis hits a region or a country, we should look for other countries to identify jobs and promote legal migration,” S Irdudayarajan, a migration expert and a former consultant to Union government on migration issues, was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times. The publication also cited Seeta Sharma, the national project coordinator at the International Labor Organization (ILO), as saying that one of the other reasons for the dwindling numbers is that wage differentials are not as fetching as they were in earlier years, with India getting emphatic about minimum wages for workers.

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