India's post COVID job surge - what's the solution?
With the bounce back in the economy led by a favorable business environment and increased optimism in view of an accelerated vaccination program, there is a sharp increase in hiring sentiment and activity across most sectors of the economy. While in some sectors hiring may be just about equal to or less than pre- pandemic levels, in many sectors it has already passed pre- pandemic levels and in almost all sectors, there is an improvement on a Year on Year basis. While this job surge is no doubt led by the IT/ITES sector, Jobs in, E-commerce, Education, Telecom, Medical/healthcare, Pharma/biotech, Insurance, and BFSI have also seen a huge surge.
Though no doubt a very positive development overall, it also presents a challenge for most organizations, given the mismatch between skill sets in demand and talent supply. In many sectors/roles, due to talent shortage, candidates are able to demand a huge salary premium and still secure multiple job offers and at the same time in few sectors candidates are struggling to get any kind of job. For companies too, it’s a difficult situation as the hiring cycle has become longer and even predictable. This coupled with the surge in attrition rate can really drag the business productivity and have a negative impact on the business performance.
Globalization and automation are steadily transforming India’s labour market, putting a premium on right skills and adaptability. India is experiencing an increase in Structural Unemployment – where on one hand, every organization is struggling to find the right candidates, on the other hand unemployment rates are increasing again and millions of jobseekers are unable to find productive employment. With more than 10 million young people entering the workforce of India every year, a sustainable ecosystem of employment and skilling is required to help these people engage and remain in work throughout an extended working life. This is a shared responsibility of: Companies/Employers, People/Employees and Govt./Society.
To address this mismatch between Talent demand and supply, Companies need to invest in skilling, upskilling and reskilling their employees. Education and skills are what comprise the crucial part of human capital. While long term policy changes in the education system to make it more relevant to the needs of Industry and job seekers will take some time, short term interventions for skilling driven by companies can really help bridge this gap. Companies must invest in skilling to Improve resiliency and ability to face market changes with agility and take care of long-term employability of their people. It may not always be possible to hire absolutely ready to perform candidates and hiring managers and HR professionals must then hire candidates who can be trained and scaled up as per the business needs. Promoting diversity and inclusion is another way to both increase the talent pool for the organization and also provide equal opportunities to all sections of the workforce.
Further, It is also the responsibility of employees/candidates to focus on their own development to raise their own employability quotient and remain relevant in a highly dynamic labour market. Since employees tend to gain the most by their own upskilling, they must Invest for developing the hard and soft skills required by the market and adopt a long-life learning approach.
Last but not the least, there needs to be a better collaboration between Industry, Govt and Training Institutions to ensure that students and potential job seekers are being trained in relevant skills and future mis-match between talent demand and supply can be minimized. It is critical to incorporate the aspect of vocational skill development within the Indian education system and for this, there needs to be better dialogue and collaboration between these stakeholders who are involved in the process of building our long-term human capital.
Addressing this skill mismatch will not only go a long way in helping us achieve our goal of becoming a 5 trillion USD economy but its also essential that with 64% of our population being in the working age group, we are able to offer sustainable and satisfying employment opportunities to this group. The potential fallout of not being able to address this gap will impact not only our economic growth but also our social and human development goals.