The Sixth Ministerial Consultations of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) held in Dubai on 26 and 27 October 2021 was attended by Government, private sector, and civil society leaders from 16 countries to discuss a range of issues relating to recruitment and employment of temporary contractual workers. The convention accorded the responsibility of Chair for the next two years to the Government of Pakistan, a position held earlier by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). During the dialogue, the GoN delegation (headed by the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security) reiterated its commitments to supporting skilled and informed migration and promoting ethical recruitment from Nepal.
UKaid सीप priorities—aligned to SDG 10.7 on orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and with GoN goals—were among the key topics discussed. This was reflected in the keynote address by UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation on new economic priorities of GCC countries focused on increased demand for skilled labour (via development of regional guidelines on skills partnerships); industrial diversification and growth; adopting effective technology; according priority to the women workforce; and migrants protection in the emerging labour markets. UKaid सीप is committed to GoN’s priority on skilled mobility partnerships and is prioritising corridor specific skilling policy development by supporting a launch in an exciting new corridor. Skills accreditation and augmentation, fair recruitment in potential new destinations, access to information and affordable finance continue to be key drivers of safe and orderly migration for the programme. And we are excited that our interventions are aligned with the future of orderly migratin as discussed at the ADD and other similar forums.
- The convention announced launch of a joint programme that explores the following thematic priorities: 1) enabling and improving access to justice for temporary contractual workers; 2) facilitating and enhancing skills mobility between and among countries of origin and destination in response to changing employment landscapes; 3) addressing COVID-19 challenges; 4) integrating gender into employment promotion policies; and 5) fostering international, intra-regional, and inter-regional cooperation on migration governance.
- Bangladesh, Pakistan and UAE conducted special sessions to share their best practices. Bangladesh shared its recent regulatory and policy frameworks and highlighted its legal and policy provisions on migration governance and migrants’ welfare including skilling and comprehensive reintegration programme (through access to affordable finance, insurance facilities, cash transfers, and health and sanitation) for migrant workers in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The country is using digital tools for an integrated database and information management of potential migrants, returnee migrants and recruitment agencies. Pakistan presented its regulatory framework for social protection and skills enhancement and recognition co-opting the digital technology. This includes an integrated database of outgoing migrant workers, recruitment agencies, overseas vacancies, and complaint management to enable skills-job matchmaking in real time and promote compliance to fair recruitment. The UAE highlighted the mandatory requirement for the employers to put AED 3,000 (£613) as bank guarantee on behalf of the employee or insure them under the new insurance policy for two years. This reduces the risk of default on salary payments or provides health insurance cover to the employees. The scheme covers both residents as well as foreign migrant workers and has special significance for migrant workers. In 2018, seven insurance companies formed a pool to develop a new insurance product to protect migrant workers and since April 2021, to respond COVID-19 and provide protection to workers, the number of participants has increased to nice. Currently, SMEs and domestic workers are the major beneficiaries.
- The high-level panel discussions focused on impact of labour supply and demand in light of the changing employment landscape, and promotion of joint efforts between the member countries for migrants’ skills examination and recognition
- Presentation from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) emphasized pre-conditions for effective application of technological solutions for migration governance. The UN body highlighted that data privacy and ownership, non-discriminatory laws, and strong administrative appeals systems as pre-conditions of good governance in both origin and destination countries.
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) presented its ongoing programme on Professional Accreditation for enhanced productivity and performance of the workforce to enable skill-based hiring and skills mobility partnerships among the member states. Its Professional Accreditation System consists of two programs: Skills Verification Programme that examines vocational skills and Qualification Validity Programme that endorses academic qualification and prior experiences. While the former was launched in 2019 with the piloting initiative in India, the latter is under development and will be launched next year. The KSA has identified 1,099 occupations for the skills verification programme under which skills assessment is carried out both in KSA as well as in the country of origin of migrant workers before issuing the work visa. The current labor sending source country partners include India, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. The country plans to expand its partnerships to other source countries as well.
The Abu Dhabi Dialogue was established in 2008 as a forum for dialogue and cooperation among Asian countries of labour origin and destination. The ADD consists of 18 countries, 11 countries of origin: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam; and 7 countries of destination: six GCC countries of destination (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), and Malaysia. It has special significance for the South Asian countries--including Nepal--as GCC is the major destination for most of the migrant workers from the region.