Strategies aimed at creation of jobs are bound to fail if they are based on erroneous, misleading data. The fact that the country currently does not have a mechanism in place to generate real time data on unemployment — or employment — in rural and urban areas is bound to cripple ameliorative efforts.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has announced plans to conduct Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS-es) every quarter to generate employment data pertaining to urban and rural areas. But the efforts of the ministry are unlikely to bear fruit if it depends on resources that are incapable of producing accurate figures.
A parliamentary standing committee on finance headed by Congress leader Veerappa Moily has observed that the fact that the ministry was engaging contractual staff to generate data is likely to affect the quality of data collected.
At present, National Sample Survey Organisation releases data on employment once in five years, which is inadequate by any measure, considering the size of the population and the dynamics of the jobs market. Quarterly enumeration of the numbers is bound to help the government to be updated of the situation on ground and to redraw plans in a responsive manner.
Although the ministry has assured that the PLF surveys would continue on a regular basis, it will first have to plug holes in the way data is generated so as to weed out inaccuracies in figures.
According to a report, there are more than 800 vacancies in the Subordinate Statistical Service, a shortage of manpower which is forcing the department to depend on contractual employees for sample surveys. Such a situation needs urgent correction if the government is serious about reaping the much-touted demographic dividend.
It is also important that better synergy is achieved between state governments and the central government to avoid variations in data.
India is witnessing jobless growth with poor expansion of its manufacturing sector and with developed nations retracting into protective shells, shunning globalisation. The problem of unemployment is expected to escalate in the near future due to the adverse impact of demonetisation on the unorganised sector, which employs semi-skilled and unskilled labour in bulk.
The corporate and organised sector in India has not been dependable when it comes to employing local labour, gradually reducing human resource needs in the last few years. The situation is made even more alarming with students who have completed professional courses not finding or creating jobs.
A report released by All India Council for Technical Education shows that out of the eight lakh engineers graduating annually from technical institutions across the country, more than 60 per cent remain unemployed.
It is a worrying figure, particularly considering the fact that such courses are supposed to equip the students to be their own masters and create jobs instead of lining up with internet downloaded resumes in hand.
With developed countries pulling out of global trade and greater automation eating into jobs across sectors, unemployment will continue to be a bugbear for any developing nation. The situation can be better managed only if the data generated unravels the sectors where there is paucity of manpower and where there is a glut.
With the cash economy getting stifled, the unorganised sector in rural and semi urban areas, including farming, will shrink in terms of employment generation. With the Narendra Damodardass Modi government unwilling to give a helping hand to small and medium industries, only focusing on corporate bigwigs, the situation looks grim.
Each year, thousands of disinterested students are pushed into professional courses on the promise of good employment prospects. But with sectors saturated and the younger generation unable to hone entrepreneurial skills, there is little scope for employment.
Probably with proper data, the government will be able to regulate the skilling of persons according to requirements in various fields. Job creation seems like a tough job ahead for India in the current political and economic situation.