NEW DELHI – The scheme to “enhance soft skills” of prospective Indian migrant workers to the Gulf in terms of the culture, language and traditions of their destination countries has trained 121,596 overseas job-seekers, the Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, has said.

He told Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of India’s Parliament, in answer to questions from members that “the initiative of Pre-Departure Orientation and Training (PDOT) Scheme has been successful. The Government of India started the PDOT program in 2018.”

Although the PDOT Scheme is accessible to any Indian going to any part of the world for employment, most of those trained are migrants to the GCC countries. This is because the Gulf region attracts the largest number of Indians taking up employment abroad.

The scheme “enhances the intending migrants’ understanding of local rules and regulations in the destination country and sensitizes migrant workers about pathways to safe and legal migration,” Muraleedharan told Member of Parliament K R Suresh Reddy in writing.

Such training in soft skills enables Indians in the Gulf to be model residents in the countries where they live. PDOT training also makes Indian expatriates “aware of various government programmes for their welfare and protection,” the Minister added.

PDOT training is free of cost for those who join the course. Four years ago, it started with four centres. In view of the demand for training, it is now available in 31 cities across India. These include states like Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal, which send large numbers of Indians to work abroad. More than one centre also offers training in big cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai.

“In the aftermath of lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19, an online PDOT module has been introduced by the Ministry of External Affairs as another step towards ensuring safe and legal migration,” the Ministry said.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) recently hosted a consultation in New Delhi on labour migration from India under the theme “Decent Work for All,” where the PDOT scheme was one of the focus areas.

India’s Labour Minister, Bhupender Yadav, said during the consultation that the Ministry’s “skill-gap-mapping identifies the sectors and requirements of skilled workforce and enhances opportunities for Indian workers abroad.” The PDOT Scheme was an outcome of such skill mapping, he said.