Thiruvananthapuram: In a relief to Kerala nurses who seek employment in the Middle East, two state-owned agencies have been awarded full rights over their recruitment, which was earlier handled by private firms.
The new directive from the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs came late Wednesday.
It said that from April 30 onwards, state-owned Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC) and Roots-Norka, the agency that looks after the welfare of the Kerala diaspora, will be in-charge of the recruitment.
"I just do not know what to say about this wonderful news. I was moving heaven and earth to borrow money from several people so that my daughter could pay the recruitment fees to a private agency for a nurse job in Kuwait," said Kunjumon Thomas, a driver who makes a living by driving private vehicles in Thiruvalla.
"I do not know whom to thank as we have saved close to Rs 1.6 million," he added.
State Minister for Labour Shibu Baby John, under whom ODEPC operates, told IANS that along with state Minister for Diaspora KC Joseph, they will hold a joint meeting with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday to get down to business.
"This is new development which will bring cheer to the nurses... We will only charge the bare minimum as service charges to meet our expenses," said John.
According to figures provided by the state-owned Kerala State Nursing Council that provides registration to nurses, fresh registration is given to more than 20,000 nurses every year.
A nurse, who did not wish to be identified, said the recruitment fees for nurses who wish to go to Libya and Iraq was around Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4 lakh, while the same was above Rs 1.5 million for nurses who wish to work in Kuwait.
"Now with this new directive, there will be a rush of nurses to the Middle East...," the nurse said, adding certifications are required today to apply to the UAE, Oman and other Gulf countries.
John told IANS that his department is now ready to equip the aspiring nurses with these new certifications as it has set up Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence (KASE), the first of its kind in the country.
The department has also signed up with SUT-NMC group of hospitals for setting up the KASE-Centre of Excellence in Nursing in the capital city.
"Starting in May, nurses who wish to get these certifications can join these courses which will extend up to a maximum of six months. In the centre, world class value addition to their existing skills would be provided and once they pass this, this would be a ticket to a well paying nurses job in the Middle East," added John.
Studies done on the Kerala diaspora by the Centre for Development Studies here say that 15 percent of the migrants (over 23 lakh) are from Kerala, of whom nurses form a huge majority.
The total remittance of non-resident Keralites to Kerala is now more than Rs 90,000 crore.