Israel Plans to Recruit 70,000 Workers from China, India to Boost Construction Sector

Israel Plans to Recruit 70,000 Workers from China, India to Boost Construction Sector

On a chilly morning last week, hundreds of individuals, bundled up in warm clothing, formed lines within a vast university campus in Haryana, India. These men, equipped with backpacks and lunch bags, were queuing up for practical exams for construction jobs in Israel – positions like plastering workers, steel fixers, and tile setters.

Ranjeet Kumar, a 31-year-old university-educated teacher struggling to secure stable employment, is among those seizing the opportunity. Despite holding two degrees and passing a government "trade test" as a "diesel mechanic," he has struggled to earn more than 700 rupees per day in various casual jobs. In contrast, the construction jobs in Israel offer a monthly salary of around 137,000 rupees, along with accommodation and medical benefits.

Reports indicate that Israel plans to bring in 70,000 workers from countries including China and India to address a labor shortage in its construction sector. Following the 7 October Hamas attack, Israel had barred around 80,000 Palestinian workers, contributing to the shortage.

Many of the job seekers, like Ranjeet Kumar, represent India's extensive informal economy, working without formal contracts or benefits. Despite holding college degrees, they find themselves in precarious construction jobs, earning meager daily wages. The allure of secure overseas employment, even in a potential war zone, becomes a compelling option for these individuals.

Sanjay Verma, a 2014 graduate with technical education credentials, reflects the challenges faced by many. Despite attempting numerous government exams, he struggled to secure a position and faced difficulties paying an agent for a promised job in Italy. The financial setbacks caused by events like demonetization in 2016 and the strict Covid lockdown in 2020 further fueled the desire for more lucrative opportunities abroad.

The narrative extends to individuals like Parbat Singh Chauhan, an emergency ambulance driver from Rajasthan, who saw his fortunes decline after the lockdown in 2020. Economic uncertainties have pushed these individuals to seek stability and better earnings overseas, even if it means facing potential risks.

The desire for better opportunities is not limited to those facing financial setbacks. Harsh Jat, a 28-year-old humanities graduate, highlights the transient nature of jobs in sectors like policing and security. Faced with limited options and aspirations for a better life, he, like others, contemplates the risks of working abroad.

While government data suggests a decline in joblessness, the informal economy's challenges persist, with a significant portion of graduates struggling to find secure employment. As the quest for stability and prosperity leads many to explore overseas opportunities, the risks associated with working in conflict zones like Israel become secondary to the pursuit of better economic prospects.

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