The Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs (MoLSA) is set to start the deployment of Ethiopian professionals and graduates in the health, construction and engineering sectors and other skilled labors to the Middle East Countries, a.k.a the gulf-states, starting this year, Addis Standard has learnt. The latest move, which follows the lifting of the ban on overseas employment to the Middle East, also eyes to open doors to graduates of technical and vocational training students in various fields.
The ministry mainly aims to send graduates of nursing and engineering fields from private colleges after fulfilling minimum requirements and non training exams that they are required to pass. In the long run, the new initiative is said to help reduce the unemployment rate, which now stands at a 16.8% after a slight decline, according to the government data.
Since February of last year, a little more than 157 Employment Agencies got a license from MoLSA, Eshetu Yitna, the Ministry's Agency Licensing, Monitoring and Support Directorate Director told Addis Standard. Eshetu further said that since September this year giant companies in the Middle East were ordering the deployment of labor to their countries in a great number with urgent needs for professional drivers, janitors, cooks and others working in other fields.
Despite the legal working grounds, illegal agencies are still afloat in the market sending Ethiopians to countries with no bilateral agreements such as Bahrain, Lebanon and the UAE, which two weeks ago forced deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonen to write a letter of warning to several offices including the MoLSA , the Ministry of Foreign Affairs( MoFA), the Main Department to the Immigration and Nationality Affairs, Federal Police Commission, the Civil Aviation and Ethiopian Airlines and other players in the corridor.
As of yet Ethiopia has only agreed a bilateral consensus of overseas employment with Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The issue of minimum wage is yet another issue whereby the Ethiopian Overseas Employment Agencies Association is asking for a minimum of US$ 300 payment for the Kuwait and UAE negotiations on overseas employment, which is now under a review process, according to Mezgebu Assefa, President of the Association. "We are pushing the government to make salary issues as just as that for employees from neighboring and other Asian countries working in the Arab States," Mezgebu told Addis Standard.
"IT Professionals from Philippines are working on a database that can link us to the Embassies and legal agencies in the Middle East and strengthen our monitoring system within the ministry," Eshetu said on his part. AS