In the lead-up to the Interim Budget, ET Online conducted a survey on the key challenges confronting the Indian economy. The survey received responses from over 10,500 Economic Times readers.
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According to 47.5% of those surveyed, the govt has been able to generate jobs — but not enough quality jobs.
Shedding light on the survey findings, Balasubramanian A, Vice President at TeamLease Services, said, “A significant 47.5% of respondents believe that while job growth exists, it’s not translating into good quality positions. This raises several crucial questions for policymakers and businesses alike.”
Job quality: Some critical issues and solutions
What constitutes a “quality job”? It’s not just about numbers. Wages, benefits, job security, skill development opportunities, and career growth potential all play a role.Which sectors are lacking quality jobs? Are traditional sectors like agriculture and manufacturing struggling to offer these aspects? Or are even newer sectors like IT and services facing similar challenges?What are the skills mismatch issues? Is the existing workforce equipped for the jobs being created, or is there a gap between education/training and industry demands?Also read: From tax to jobs and EVs to reforms, what’s on India’s mind
Addressing the challenge, Balasubramanian said, “Revamping education and training programs to align with industry needs is crucial. This includes vocational training, digital literacy programs, and reskilling initiatives for existing workers. Encouraging businesses to move towards formal employment with proper wages, benefits, and social security can significantly improve job quality.”
He added that “creating an enabling environment for businesses to flourish can lead to the creation of more high-quality jobs. This includes investments in infrastructure, R&D, and technological advancements. Ensuring proper enforcement of labor laws protecting worker rights and promoting fair working conditions can contribute to better job quality.”
What can Budget do for quality jobs?
Balasubramanian said, “The upcoming budget presents an opportunity for the government to address the concerns surrounding job quality. Increased allocation for skilling initiatives, promoting formalization through incentives, and fostering a conducive environment for job creation can be crucial steps in this direction. Ultimately, bridging the quality gap is essential for India to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”
In the survey, a notable 29% of respondents expressed dissatisfaction, deeming the government’s track record on jobs as poor.
Formal job creation at the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) saw a 7.5% decline in November. The number of new employees added to ESIC stood at 1.59 million, compared to 1.72 million in October. This marks the lowest addition of new subscribers under ESIC in the current fiscal year.
In April, ESIC added 1.78 million subscribers, followed by 2.02 million each in May and June. In July, the number of new subscribers reached 1.98 million, while August and September saw additions of 1.94 million and 1.88 million respectively.
This decline in formal job creation raises concerns about the state of employment in the country.
Not just a quality issue
Elaborating on the employment scenario, Kamal Karanth, Co-founder, Xpheno, said, “For starters, job creation in India has a quantity challenge on the net job creation. Our total annual academic output of qualified UG & PG talent across all streams of education is in the 94 to 96 Lakh range. With about 20%-24% of this output heading for higher education, we are still looking at 72 to 75 Lakh entry level talent getting added to the market every year. IT Sector as one of the largest consumers of entry level has, in its best intake year, created 6 Lakh jobs. The capacity for the formal sectors to collectively create 7 million jobs in a year has been a tall order. The outcome is hence a loading of informal and short-tenure talent engagements that reflect on the quality of jobs and careers for entry level talent.”
About the quality gap, Karanth said, “For talent, the best and highest quality job, is one that provides the best fit on their expectations on Brand, Role, Industry, Money and People to work with. What we call this the BRIMP fit and it is highly dynamic & elastic to each individual’s personal preferences and priorities. As BRIMP preferences keep changing with each talent cohort, uniformly generating high quality jobs will be a perennial challenge. However, quality in terms of job availability, accessibility and timeliness is for the talent consuming sectors to align and enable. With the quantity challenge being the backdrop for the quality gaps, the fix can and should begin from the quantity end.”
He added that the government, industry bodies and industry bellwethers need to have a mandate to create a talent consumption model that’s synchronous with the academic output. Resolving the quantity challenge quantity of net job additions will be a byproduct of near-term buoyancy and long-term stability in economic activities.
A complex job market
In the survey, 18.1% of participants commended the government’s efforts, believing it is doing its best in addressing the country’s employment concerns.
Dhriti Prasanna Mahanta, Vice President and Business Head, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship, said, “More than 90% of India’s workforce is still in the informal sector, where they are exposed to unsafe work conditions, lack institutional benefits and are at the mercy of low & irregular incomes – all an outcome of low skill levels. And of the 90%, 94% earn less than Rs 10,000 per month, and majority of them are casual, migrant labourers. So any job growth numbers which don’t factor in the improvement in the livelihoods of this vast segment, will be limited to a fraction of our workforce. This necessitates the need for upskilling more than ever as technological advancements will keep the unskilled labour out of its ambit of growth.”
This mixed feedback underscores the complexity of the job market landscape under the Modi government, indicating a need for a closer examination of both quantity and quality aspects of employment initiatives.
A mere 5 per cent of the respondents in the survey were of the opinion that ample jobs were created in the last decade under Modi’s watch.