THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Only 1,325 nurses were recruited for overseas assignments by the two government agencies in the state after the Centre banned private players in May 2015. Sources in the sector say 20,000 to 25,000 nurses used to migrate earlier to Gulf countries every year from Kerala annually. While Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants (ODEPC) recruited 883 nurses, NORKA-Roots recruited only 442 between June 1, 2015, and December 31, 2016, according to information obtained under the Right to Information Act.
“With the lack of opportunities, many are even forced to take up other jobs like sales girls," said United Nurses Association president Jasmine Sha. ODPEC and NORKA-Roots are among the five government agencies in the country empowered to undertake recruitment of nurses. “It is the lack of drive from the government agencies to tap the job opportunities that is killing the chances for thousands of Malayali nurses. As a result, the foreign employers are turning to other destinations, mainly the Philippines. For instance, a Qatar firm recently recruited 2,900 nurses, all from the Philippines," said Mr Sha.
Meanwhile, NORKA additional chief secretary Sheela Thomas said private employers in foreign countries need to be pressurised to place their demands for nurses of the Centre's eMigrate portal so that NORKA-Roots and ODEPC could make the recruitment. “We are making all efforts to influence them. But being a government agency, NORKA-Roots has its limitations," she said. Meanwhile, ODEPC said in reply to the RTI query that its chairman and managing director had contacted the diplomatic missions of various countries requesting recruitment through ODEPC.