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Unemployment issue: Skills hold the key, not just degrees, says Teamlease Services senior VP

Eram Tafsir

Creating jobs remain central for any government for the growth of the nation. The debate on employment-unemployment in India has gained significant attention in the recent period. Sharing her views on the same Neeti Sharma, senior VP, Teamlease Services said: Mid level and lateral hiring will be key in 2019. Candidates will be chosen for their skills and career trajectory and not just their degrees.”

In an exclusive interview with Eram Tafsir of Financial Express Online, Neeti Sharma, touches the issues on the current employment scenario in the country, the impact of demonetisation, skill developments and so on. Neeti Sharma has 27 years of experience in her field, is a member secretary of the Skills Task Force under the Karnataka Knowledge Commission, Government of Karnataka and a pioneer of PPP Employment Exchanges in India.

What is the employment scenario in the country currently ?

Mid level and lateral hiring will be key in 2019. Candidates will be chosen for their skills and career trajectory and not just their degrees. For a very long time skills gap has been a large area of concern for organizations, and this has increased due to competitive hiring landscape. Companies will look for candidates outside of their industry, i.e. the candidate may not have relevant industry background, but will be a fit for the role in all other aspects. Fresher hiring across cities such as Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Pune are likely to be close to 15-16 per cent of all net new jobs created. Sectors such as telecom, construction & real estate and BPO/ ITeS will see the slowest growth in job creation.

The recent leaked data from NSSO show that unemployment is at 40-year high. Share your views.

Would not like to comment on data which is not published. However, we have seen that while few jobs largely redundant ones like sending responses in a BPO, basic banking operations, data entry etc are reducing in absolute numbers, there are many newer jobs that are getting created almost daily. It is said that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in completely new jobs that don t exist today. So, it is not that the number of jobs will change, but the profile of jobs and skill sets required will keep changing constantly going forward. We need to be prepared for these drastic changes.

Did demonetization and GST have an impact on the job growth?

Initially, there was a lull in hiring as the industry was not sure about the impact of demonetization and GST. However, over a period of time, it has been seen that digital financial services has seen a spike over the last few quarters and so has the number of companies that have started paying taxes. This means that formal employment numbers will start increasing, there by providing better salaries and statutory dues to employees.

What are your ways on the current framework of the education system? What changes the education sector needs, particularly w.r.t developing skills and talent to improve employability ?

Vocational skills need to be aligned very closely with the education system and needs to begun in the early years of Education. Initiating learning from school right up to graduate degree and upward, every student should be exposed to few basic skills and few specialized ones which they can chose to learn as they go along the education path.

Traditionally, we have been teaching mostly through classrooms and few practical sessions. Various methods of learning across the four classrooms On Campus, Onsite, Online and On-The-Job should become the route to learning. Of course, the duration spent across each of these classrooms, when, who and where are variables that can be put together basis the class, skill sets and background of students.

What should be the government’s strategy to tackle the issue of growing unemployment in the country?

The Government today provides the highest amount of funding for skills development. Matching industry requirement via- -vis skills requires focusing the skills development programs to yield output, i.e. trainee skills sets, apprenticeship, retention and productivity. Increased productivity would mean higher profitability, and there on need for hiring new people in companies. Integrating learning along with earning credits through a common credit framework, will enable local industry to hire skilled manpower. This will help SMEs and MSMEs along with large organizations to start hiring locally, thus enabling long-term sustainability and retention.