Chasing a rollercoaster: challenges, opportunities of job creation in India

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An economy’s strength lies in the number of jobs it supports. Employment generates income, which in turn impacts investment and spending patterns of a nation. The changing job scenario in India has policymakers, government bodies and corporates working together to achieve the same goal – creation of employment. As a topic, it is at the forefront of India’s dynamic economic landscape.

As published by a combined report from the Boston Consulting Group and the Confederation of Indian Industry, to fill the large disparity in the employment sector, India will need to create an estimated 12-15 million non-agricultural jobs within the next two decades. This will certainly be a challenge: yet with well-phased strategies and a clearly defined road map to encourage and sustain growth, India can certainly generate jobs to safeguard its progress. The nation is expected to become one of the most highly consumer driven, high output and largest workforce in the world, exceeding even China. According to a recent report by Deloitte, India’s potential workforce consists of 885 million – which is projected to increase to 1.08 billion people by 2050.

The United Nations Development Programme, in its Asia-Pacific Human Development Report, states that, between 1991 and 2013, the size of the working-age population increased by 300 million. The UNDP also noted that at that time, India could only absorb less than half of the new entrants into the Indian workforce. It further proposed that countries like India, with large low-income populations, big agriculture sectors and high rural-to-urban migration, should focus on specific industries, particularly in manufacturing, to create jobs

Recently, the minister of state for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha, raised the stakes – expressing his confidence in industries such as aviation, renewable energies and medical technology as being employment generators for the Indian economy. Additionally, railway minister Piyush Goyal has predicted that the nation’s railway ecosystem can create a million jobs within the next year, which could have a significant impact for job creation.

With these factors in mind, the government and its policymakers are highly aware that India has a massive non-organised sector, providing employment to the poorer sections of the population. It is the nation’s hope that, with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax in India, this sector will slowly transition towards the formal sector, thereby improving the nation’s employment scenario. Added to that, the implementation of this tax is hoped to create jobs in areas like taxation, accounting and data analysis.

It is imperative to understand that with increased innovation comes a change in the way the Indian economy functions: thereby ushering in a revolutionary shift in workforce management. An enormous number now realise the importance of pursuing an education, and by doing so, they increase the number of prospective employees for future jobs. According to government bodies, this issue has intensified as a result of industries choosing to invest in capital-intensive sectors, rather than labour-intensive ones. This paradigm shift must be accommodated and planned for in a structured way, and Indian organisations must be ready to work with policymakers to ensure a smooth transition.

Traditionally, industries such like automobiles, textiles, IT/ ITES, BPO, and logistics have been viewed as businesses employment creators, catering to the burgeoning population of India. However, it is important to note that these are the same industries that have been affected by downsizing. Additionally, there has been much speculation that the rise of automation and robotics could further decrease the numbers of jobs available in certain sectors.

While it is estimated that several entry-level jobs will be automated in the future, Michael Page India’s recently launched ‘India Automation Report’ highlighted that digitisation of processes may not necessarily see an exclusively negative outcome. Despite multiple reports of automation contributing to a loss of jobs, employees in India who are customers of Michael Page, remain optimistic about retaining or securing jobs in the Indian markets. The report further emphasised that, while employees will need to look at upgrading their skills to retain certain jobs, the Indian workforce has reason to be positive that emerging industries such as data security, e-commerce, financial technology and mobile communications can present numerous avenues for new job opportunities.

One of the biggest advantages that India’s start-ups provided was an innovative platform inviting angel investments to fund their businesses – thus necessitating a robust ecosystem, which is strictly led by an organised support system, with exceptionally high standards in tax regulatory policies and corporate governance.

India has embarked on a journey of transformation to become a digital and innovation hub, through its various initiatives like “Digital India” and “Skill India”. Amidst a dynamic and fast-changing environment, it is hoped that the government’s vision to build an integrated learning platform to upskill the workforce at different career stages, can play a key part in mitigating the nation’ employment risks.

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