Piyush Goyal, the current Railway Minister went on record on Tuesday stating that there is a difference between the data available on the job scenario in the country and the reality of actual jobs especially in the informal sector.
This comes at an interesting time – during the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections while the Opposition continues to criticize the ruling government for the slow rate at which jobs are growing in the nation. Recent data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) shows that the unemployment rate in the country shot up to 7.4 per cent in December 2018. This has been the highest level of unemployment in 15 months.
According to Goyal, there should be employment extended to 5 Mn individuals by 2024 by the start-up and new-age entrepreneurial sector - a big jump form the current 1.5 Mn that the sector employs.
Goyal stated that, “The data available in the public domain is totally at variance with the real unemployment numbers and the Employees Provident Fund Organisation data. We will have to make the data more robust in the informal sector.”
He added that new data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) would soon be made available and that the Government was not relying on data from the CMIE. He also said that, “Efforts must be directed towards greater job formalization, including increased social security coverage, to bring such employees into the formal jobs net.”
23.7 Mn vacancies of the 127,000 announced by the railways in 2018-19 have already been applied for. According to Goyal, the large number of applications paint the picture that many are unemployed whereas, he feels that they are already working in the private sector and applying simply for greater benefits and security.
What this dilemma points towards is also the quality of data made available to the public. That said, irrespective of the debate on what is correct data and what is not, unemployment and a widening gap in skills are real issues that face the country and need to be attended. Are HR firms in the country prepared to gain access to objective data insights and arm themselves with the required tools and talent to face the pace of change around us?