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Explained: How SWADES Skill Cards are helping jobless Indian expats gain employment

It helps out-of-job Indian citizens returning home to connect with prospective employers. Close to 31,000 returnees have thus far registered under the scheme

March 30, 2021 / 12:50 PM IST
Group of three businessmen in suits looking at laptop standing in modern office hall at informal meeting. Picture: Shutterstock

Group of three businessmen in suits looking at laptop standing in modern office hall at informal meeting. Picture: Shutterstock

In June 2020, the Indian government started an initiative to map the skills of citizens returning under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM).

Called Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support (SWADES), the idea was to issue a card to such returnees so that they could be matched with relevant jobs in the country.

This information given by returnees' is being shared with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. It helps map skills with individual job descriptions.

Sources said that close to 30,700 people have registered so far under this initiative, a joint effort of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs.

The next step in this endeavour will be to help those with SWADES Skill Cards to register at upcoming job fairs, move to partner countries and also find employment through Skill India’s employment initiatives.

What is the SWADES initiative?

Under SWADES, there is skill mapping of citizens returning under Vande Bharat Mission. It entitles those laid off from their jobs in other countries because of the Coronavirus outbreak, to return to India and register for the Skill Card.

SWADES creates a database of returning citizens based on their skill sets and experience. Once the details are filled, a SWADES Skill Card is issued.

Of the total registrations, an overwhelming 80 percent, or 24,500 citizens, have returned from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.

Amidst COVID-19, close to 100,000 Indians are estimated to have lost their jobs in UAE alone in sectors like construction, finance and hospitality in the wake of the pandemic. In Asia, UAE is the largest employer of Indians outside the country.

The Ministry of Skill Development has also begun integrating the details of the card holders with Skill India’s portal ASEEM, or Atmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping.

ASEEM is a government directory of skilled workforce. The objective is to provide a platform that matches supply of skilled workforce with the market demand, thereby facilitating better livelihood opportunities.

At present, there are about 810 employers registered on the ASEEM portal, who have between them, posted a combined demand of approximately 5, 10,000 jobs in India.

How is it benefiting the unemployed?

Once the details are filled and a SWADES Skill Card issued, the job requests are shared with Indian and foreign companies. The availability of employment opportunities will be sent on a job seeker’s mobile number and email addresses, depending on work experience and sector expertise.

Sources said that close to 5,000 Indians, who have returned to the country have benefited by the scheme, gaining employment in sectors like manufacturing and construction.

Industry estimates suggest that in India, about seven million people were laid off in 2020, due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

Samar Shah, CEO, HireGlobal HR Solutions, which specializes in hiring talent for GCC nations, told Moneycontrol that unemployment has gone up in those markets.

"Only highly skilled Indians in areas like medicine or technology are able to find jobs in markets like Dubai in the past 12 months. Similarly, those employed in semi-skilled jobs are also at rising risk of retrenchment and hence initiatives like SWADES Skill Card could be beneficial for them," he added.

Shah also said that Indian employers prefer those with international work experience, who are regarded as valuable resources.

Close to nine million Indian citizens work in GCC nations. A majority of these individuals are employed in the hospitality, construction and oil and gas industries.

M Saraswathy
M Saraswathy is a business journalist with 10 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, she covers consumer durables, insurance, education and human resources beat for Moneycontrol.
first published: Mar 30, 2021 12:50 pm