WITH THOUSANDS of youngsters getting duped by unscrupulous recruitment agencies, the Punjab government has now decided to act as a direct link between overseas employers and job aspirants.
Rahul Tewari, Employment Generation and Training Department Secretary in Punjab, told The Indian Express the state has applied with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to register as a ‘Recruiting Agent’. It has deposited a bank guarantee of Rs 50 lakh with the Protector General of Emigrants, the registering authority under the MEA.
Tewari said the MEA has already carried out a verification process. “The state government has earmarked office space for the proposed RA cell at Ghar Ghar Rozgar Society in Punjab Mandi Board office at Mohali,” he said.
The focus countries, to begin with, will be countries in the Middle East, Tewari said.
Simultaneously, the state is in the process of establishing a Study Visa Foreign Facilitation Cell to assist students planning to go abroad for higher studies. “We are hopeful to send the first batch of students abroad on study visas in around six months. The focus countries would be Canada, followed by Australia and New Zealand. We want the students to go to the right universities, and not get fleeced,” said Tewari.
With little or no expertise in these areas, the state government is also planning to engage experts on contract. “We plan to recruit 10 Foreign Placement Executives with prior experience in the field of providing manpower to foreign employers and assisting students for study visas,” said Tewari.
Experts in this area, however, expect high salaries. “We are trying to sort this out,” said Tewari.
The main reason for government intervention was felt following many complaints of fraud by youngsters who were cheated by agents. Over the last three years, 3,200 cases were registered against unscrupulous travel agents and agencies under the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, Punjab Professional Regulation Rules 2013, Emigration Act, 1983 and under Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.
While exact numbers are not available with the government, many attempt to enter countries through illegal routes. Just last year, a large number of illegal immigrants were deported by the United States back to Punjab.
Initially, the Punjab government was planning to outsource the process of RA-cum-Student Visa Facilitation Cell and floated a tender. It never opened the bids. Later, it planned to hire a consultant for a research paper on the subject, but dropped that idea too. Eventually, it decided to register itself as a ‘Recruiting Agent’.
As on date, there are 75 certified Recruiting Agents in Punjab, with Jalandhar leading the pack with 26 RAs. Mohali has 14, Hoshiarpur 13, Ludhiana 5, Chandigarh 4, Ropar 3, Bathinda and Gurdaspur two each. Amritsar, Barnala, Kapurthala, Moga, Patiala and Nawanshahr too have a ‘Recruiting Agent’ each.
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