Opinion The Jobscape

Vote For Jobs

This is the sixth edition of The Jobscape, our weekly round-up of news and opinion on the state of employment and job creation in India. In this edition, we look at political party manifestos, the effects of DeMon, and how companies are upskilling their employees.

Politics and the States

The agrarian crisis and job creation are the top priorities for the Congress party in the run-up to the state elections in Rajasthan. Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan Congress President, accuses the Vasundhara Raje government of failing to provide the promised 15 lakh jobs to youth. The Congress party’s “Vachan Patra” or manifesto in Madhya Pradesh stresses on the employment issue. State election campaign chairman Jyotiraditya Scindia states that “women will be given priority during recruitment in police force. Industry will be promoted so that jobs are created.” The Congress also promises a “salary grant” of Rs 10,000 per job to the industries offering employment to the youth of the state. Not to be left behind, the current chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan promises to create 10 lakh jobs and set up skill development centres all over the state.

In Chhattisgarh, every major opposition party has the issue of unemployment in its manifesto. The Congress party’s “Jan Ghoshna Patra” includes apprenticeship programs and employment opportunities for youth. If elected, they would also provide a monthly stipend to unemployed youth. The Aam Aadmi Party promises to give priority to local youth for jobs in both the government and the private sector. They will also abolish contract employment. Former Chief Minster Ajit Jogi’s party, the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J), goes further, promising 100% reservation in government jobs for locals and 90% reservation in private sector. He also outlines stipends from Rs 1001 to Rs 2001 for the educated unemployed. The ruling BJP’s manifesto makes no overt mention of jobs, expect for talking about making welfare schemes like MGNREGA corruption free.

According to a pre-poll survey done by Lokniti, lack of jobs was top of the mind in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, with 21%-27% of respondents citing it as the number one issue.

In Telangana, the ruling TRS party has faced student protesters demanding jobs. To pacify them the chief minister, K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) has promised a monthly allowance of Rs 3016 for unemployed graduates in the state. The opposition parties have also made similar promises. Additionally, the Congress party has accused KCR of going back on his promise to provide 12% reservation to Muslims in both education and government jobs. And finally, in the small North-Eastern state of Mizoram, the ruling Congress party has promised laptops to all unemployed youth who have passed the 12th standard exams while the BJP has been busy giving jobs to women – as state legislators. It has nominated six women candidates in the upcoming election.

Job Creation and the Effects of DeMon

The Korean car maker Hyundai plans to invest Rs 70 Billion in Tamil Nadu, creating 700 new jobs for auto workers. This new facility will also start manufacturing electric vehicles in the next three years. Hyundai is planning to launch nine models in India during 2018-20, entailing development expenses of Rs 60-65 Billion.

At the “Make in Odisha” conclave Mukesh Ambani promised to invest Rs 3000 crore (Rs 30 Billion) in Odisha over the next three years, creating 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Hiring in the IT sector in India is projected to rise, as much as 27% in western and southern India. US visa restrictions are one reason fueling this increase. Naukri.com’s Jobspeak report on online hiring showed an increase of 21% in October 2018. However, according to the Business Standard, overall jobs growth is slowing in India Inc. to its lowest level in three years. Employee count went up only 1.9% year on year. Confusingly, the Times of India thinks otherwise. It’s October 2018 report states that India Inc. posted a 5% growth in hiring, with automobile and infrastructure sectors both registering an 8% rise.

According to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE), the demonetization in 2016 cost India 1.5 million jobs.  Labour participation also fell sharply, and that too has not yet recovered. CMIE estimates unemployment in India at 6.9% in October 2018, the highest in the last two years. These conflicting reports once again point out to the lack of data from government sources which could settle the debate.

The BBC has a video about how PM Modi may have failed India’s jobless. Tavleen Singh opines that India needs jobs, not statues and name changes. Raghuram Rajan blames demonetization and the GST rollout for loss of jobs and slowing growth in India. So does the former Finance Minister, P Chidambaram who forecasts a volcano of unemployment.

And there’s bad news on the horizon for spouses of H1-B visa holders working in the US. Trump’s administration is planning to revoke their work authorization. Earlier this year Shikha Dalmia wrote an excellent article on her experiences as “an involuntary housewife” in a similar situation.

Jobs of the Future

The global consulting and outsourcing company Cognizant has come out with their second report on jobs of the future, and they point out the slowness of curriculum changes at higher education institutions. India’s education system needs to change both qualitatively and quantitatively. The all India undergraduate pass rate was 22% in 2017. The Gross Enrollment Ratio in tertiary education in India is 26.9%, while it is 48.4% in China—we have fewer students getting a poorer quality of education!

To meet the challenges and disruptions of AI, companies are upskilling their employees. A recent survey by Capgemini showed that 47% of Gen X & Y employees believe that their current skill set would become redundant in four to five years. The CEO of Mindtree also believes that reskilling is “the need of the hour” and that job specialization is the way to stay ahead of AI.

Prime Minister Modi’s ambitious Skill India programme aims at skilling 400 Million Indians by 2022. However, in a recent study, 70% of youth surveyed were unaware of the government programme!

If there is one job parents in India wish most for their children, it’s not in medicine or engineering. It’s teaching! But it seems like peons in government offices get double the salary of science teachers in government schools. No wonder there are 1.7 Million applicants for the 18,216 Group D posts advertised by the Haryana state government

The future of jobs is moving away from agriculture. But Bhoomin Badani moved from the legal field to agriculture, and now he runs a start-up growing and selling Stevia.

Professional Jobs for Women

Today’s young woman is better educated and aspires to professional jobs like teachers, policewomen, doctors and nurses. They are able to delay marriage longer than earlier generations. Will they get the jobs they deserve?

To help women get jobs in technology, VMWare, in partnership with non-profit Women Who Code plans to train 15,000 women in India over the next two years in various tech areas, for free! Several companies like Bharti Airtel and Cognizant are ready to hire women with the VMWare certification. The programme helps women who have a gap in their employment history upskill themselves in emerging tech.

Other Stories

A new job scam has trapped 32 Indians in Malaysia. The Kolkata-based NGO National Anti-Trafficking Committee has managed to rescue one worker and got him back to India. They have identified locations of the others and are working to get them back as well.

The government is considering psychometric testing for job applicants in the police and paramilitary forces.

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About the author

Yazad Jal

Yazad Jal is Fellow, Economic Policy at the Takshashila Institution.
Previously he worked for McKinsey and IBM in the United States and
before that in the non-profit sector in India, last serving as CEO of
Praja Foundation in Mumbai. Yazad has an MBA from Yale University and
a BA (Econ) from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai University.