GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
Ankit Kulin
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Towards an exit plan: helping unskilled workers achieve growth and financial security
Paper Proposal Text :
An unskilled worker, in most emerging economies, is an individual with limited literacy or vocational skills. He earns minimum wages and, in absence of job security, is excluded from most forms of long-term savings or insurance plans. To this worker, the idea of migrating to GCC countries is enticing at multiple levels – a) endless opportunities – as per ILO estimates, unprecedented growth and large scale infrastructure projects will continue to result in high demand for unskilled labour in the medium term (2025), b) higher average monthly wages, with minimal or no taxation equals significantly higher earnings and savings than before, c) considerable percentage remitted home allowing their families better access to amenities, education, and healthcare thereby having a positive effect overall on their quality of life.

However, what starts off as an opportunity for growth eventually turns into a matter of compulsion. By their very nature, jobs requiring unskilled labour rarely result in any tangible growth in skills or professional development for the employees. The stagnancy in skills and therefore compensation ensures that these workers are forced to continue living abroad to sustain their savings and ability to provide for family. The lack of any policy or long-term savings scheme dedicated towards this lower-salaried strata prevents these workers from planning for a source of income in the event of ill-health and disability. The absence of policy or relevant financial products may be attributed to a lack of systematic and objective research focused on expat unskilled workers residing in GCC countries.

To this end, the primary objective of this paper is to develop reliable, statistical measures on professional aspirations, financial goals, and savings behaviours of unskilled workers currently residing in GCC. The paper will focus on delivering these insights based on detailed socio-economic profiling and conducting primary surveys among 265 registered panel members with YouGov, who categorize themselves as semi-skilled or unskilled workers, living in GCC.

About the panel & sample: Although panel participation is voluntary and open to self-selection bias, these 265 potential respondents are fairly representative of existing statistics on unskilled workers in terms of gender (75% males vs. 25% females) and nationality (42% Asians, 37% Arabs). Most of this sample is currently based in UAE (55%), followed by KSA (28%). Preliminary assessment of this sample indicates most South Asian workers invest their savings in land or gold, which aligns with our understanding of cultural importance of these saving mechanisms.