UAE to test workers’ skills as they enter country

The United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Labour has announced a pilot scheme to gather information on the skills of construction workers entering the country. 

Around 2,500 workers will be tested at first. The candidates will be from "major labour-sending countries" such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines. 

The project will take place over two years, and the Ministry of Labour will consider the findings when deciding employment policies. 

Saqr Ghobash, the UAE minister of labour, said the ministry wanted to gather information to help it frame future policies "in partnership with concerned government agencies and facilities from the private sector, as well as universities and research centres".  

He stressed that the move was intended to help the development of the UAE’s construction sector, and to increase the productivity of the workers themselves, so they could "find decent work opportunities when they return home". 

He said: "Participants will also be tested during their stay in the country to document additional gained skills in their new workplace", to facilitate employment within national facilities with trained and qualified manpower, which will positively affect the national labour market." 

The Ministry of Labour is working with the National Qualifications Authority, the Federal Demographic Council and Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council, Zayed University and several other national and international institutions. 

Thani Al Muhairi, the director general of the National Qualifications Authority, said this was the first project of its kind, in terms of the number of participant countries and also international, regional and local institutions. 

The project may also be implemented in Kuwait.  

UAE construction projects are set to reach $315bn this year. More than 1,000 cases of labour abuse were referred to prosecutors in the UAE last year.

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