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Plug Haryana’s skill gap to combat job crisis

Haryana has the potential to create numerous jobs if a multipronged policy is developed.

Plug Haryana’s skill gap to combat job crisis

SOLUTION: The development of new smart cities can be a magnet for a large number of jobs due to the agglomeration effect and the availability of opportunities. - File photo

Bhupinder Singh Hooda

Former CM, Haryana

INDIA is facing a severe and widespread unemployment crisis, which is often described as a ‘ticking bomb’ of joblessness. Job creation must become the central focus of national political and policy discussions. The Congress has recognised the gravity of the situation and prioritised employment, social justice and inclusiveness in its election promises outlined in the Nyay Patra.

It is widely acknowledged that unemployment can be addressed through job opportunities, but the issue is complex and multifaceted, extending beyond mere joblessness. Consequently, finding a comprehensive solution to unemployment has been a longstanding challenge for successive governments. This necessitates an informed debate and brainstorming to understand the issue as a human problem rather than a political one. Additionally, current social, economic and technological factors must be taken into account to develop an effective strategy to combat this problem.

Rather than delving into the intricacies of statistics derived from multiple surveys conducted by various agencies using different methodologies, we should strive to address this social issue with a more pragmatic and compassionate approach, rather than relying on purely academic or bureaucratic solutions.

Among the states, Haryana is worst affected by unemployment, with the rate approximately three times higher than the national average. This was exemplified by the fierce competition for three Group D posts in the District Court, Jind; thousands of highly qualified applicants, including those with BE/ME, MBA and other postgraduate degrees, vied for these posts. The indifferent attitude of the state government towards educated youth over the past nine years has exacerbated the dire situation.

Vacancies in government departments — over two lakh, including those of teachers and healthcare workers — were not filled. They were either put on hold or on sale. Frequent paper leaks, cancellation of examinations and massive irregularities in the selection process frustrated the youth of the state; they either started migrating to other countries, risking their lives for a living, or were drawn into the dark world of violence, crime, drugs, depression or suicide. Instead of facing this grave crisis with the utmost compassion, sincerity and priority, the government’s policy response was myopic, populist, callous and deceptive.

What added insult to injury for the unemployed youth was the formulation of the Deployment of Contractual Persons Policy, 2022. This policy is being implemented through a government-approved agency (digital labour exchange), Haryana Kaushal Rozgar Nigam Limited. Through this agency, highly qualified youth are being temporarily deployed for various job roles on low and fixed wages. They are even ‘exported’ to war-hit countries like Israel.

Haryana has the potential to create numerous jobs if a clear, consistent, comprehensive and credible multipronged policy is developed. If the Congress comes to power, our top priority will be to create a conducive environment for generating employment opportunities.

In Haryana, the agriculture sector is the largest job provider, with over 50 per cent of the population engaged in agriculture and allied activities. Promoting food processing, agri-technological advancements, storage, agri-exports, agri-marketing, dairying and horticulture can create a significant number of jobs. Increasing MGNREGA rates and linking them with other initiatives will help create more productive and purposeful jobs in rural areas.

In 2019, the manufacturing sector was the second-largest employer after agriculture. However, as of 2023, the construction sector has taken its place, followed by the service sector, trade and hospitality, with manufacturing now in the fourth place. Improving the ease of doing business — providing land at reasonable prices, skilled labour, adequate and affordable credit facilities — along with effective market and labour laws, and cheap and sufficient electricity supply will stimulate job creation in the manufacturing sector.

The government is the third largest employer. More than two lakh vacancies need to be filled in a time-bound manner. To effectively and efficiently deliver services to the people and keep pace with the increasing number of job seekers, more permanent jobs need to be created in the government, public undertakings and cooperative sectors.

The development of new smart cities can be a magnet for a large number of jobs due to the agglomeration effect and the availability of opportunities. It will also have significant developmental and societal consequences. A major push for education, health, nutrition and social security infrastructure can be achieved by creating quality and well-paid jobs for ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) personnel, anganwadi workers, mid-day meal providers and midwives.

The low participation of women in the labour force (25 per cent) represents a significant untapped potential for employment. This can be addressed by creating a supportive environment, implementing maternity and labour laws, ensuring women’s safety and providing them with accommodation and transportation facilities. The urban unemployment rate is 10.1 per cent, while rural joblessness is at 7.4 per cent. Therefore, a new policy similar to MGNREGA should be launched in cities and urban areas. Additionally, promoting remote work opportunities can expand the job market, especially for women and youth in rural areas.

Improving the employability of the workforce is crucial for taking advantage of the demographic dividend. This requires enhancing the quality of education, particularly foundational literacy and technical education. The ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) raises concerns over education infrastructure in Haryana, highlighting the need for improvement. Prolonged unemployment and a lack of skill upgrading can reduce a person’s employability.

There is a significant skill gap in the state, leading to unemployment. Therefore, a skill development revolution is necessary for up-skilling, re-skilling and adopting innovative processes to meet the new job requirements. Establishing a knowledge hub in Haryana with international-level institutions of excellence in technology, research and innovation can help meet the modern job market requirements. It will take persistent and pragmatic policies and political will to overcome this crisis.

#Congress #Unemployment

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