All the governments across the world currently face the issue of creating employment opportunities for the countless millions who are struggling in the job market to find a basic job. There have been myriad approaches and strategies that has been debated by the experts and deployed over the years to tackle the issue. Though all the schemes do bring in some level of success quotient but the effect is not to the extent that it should have and issue on table remains same with the same level of magnitude.
The main reasons for the inability of the solutions to make the desired level of headway in mitigating the issue is the constantly increasing size of the eligible population in the bracket as well as the employability quotient of the candidates. If any solution has to be looked at to address the issue of unemployment, then I think the planners need to step back and work on strategies that work towards increasing the employability quotient. Any such strategy has to be directed towards and bake-in the diverse set of pool of people that needs to be. I do understand that one of the major initiatives of the Government of India around this subject called Skill India mission indeed is working towards this direction.
Alternative but an Augmentative approach
My recommendation is an alternative but an augmentative approach. This approach will not replace any of the existing initiatives as it is directed towards a certain set of population and meant to be an add-on to all the current programs. As demographically, we are one of the youngest countries in the world and expecting a sizable chunk of eligible population to hit the mark of 18 years in coming years every year… the age when people become eligible to hit the job market. Majority of this eligible population belongs to rural areas. The youth coming from rural areas does have the exposure to the worldwide trends due to digitally connected world as well as due to telecom revolution but they do have some disadvantages. There are certain facilities that may not be available in many areas of the country which are generally available in the cities. This factor creates some impediments in building the employability factor amongst the rural youth.
Temporary short-term hiring by Army / para-military forces
To cut the discussion short, my approach towards this is slightly on a offbeat track and it focuses on providing a short-term employment along-with adding on to the skill-quotient However, I must add upfront that this approach is an augmentative to the existing approaches and not an alternative for any of those:
- First and foremost, the authorities will have to create a well-laid policy and procedures around this.
- Armed forces as well as para-military forces can target short-period hiring…. could be for 2 or 3 years duration.
- The short-period hiring could be to the tune of 5 lacs or 10 lacs candidates or even more candidates per year as may be decided and allocated to each unit in some pre-defined ratio say not more than five percent of the unit size. The overall number in the pilot batch shall be of an optimal size so that the results can be measured objectively.
- The target eligible population will be in the age-bracket of 18-20 years and the candidate could be from the level of matriculation. It can be debated whether graduates need to be considered under this approach. However, in that case the training approach will have to be slightly different.
- This will purely be “voluntary” hiring…. I am NOT mentioning Mandatory hiring as it may take the discussion to a different tangent.
- The candidates will be hired for short period assignment. During the period, candidates will get stipend and other basic facilities which others are eligible while being at their respective units. The stipend amount can be decided and could be different from the existing norms.
- The selected candidates will be allocated to the units which could be anywhere across the country and not just at the hometown of the candidate. Else, it will defeat the purpose of the approach.
- Once candidate moves to the respective units, he shall be made to to go through the identified but rigorous trainings. The training will include the physical trainings as well. In nutshell, all the trainings which any recruit goes through... however, the intensity might be different.
- Once the candidates settle down after induction trainings over couple of weeks, he shall be involved in work involving building of social infrastructure at various places which our forces carry out at the places where their units are based at. Intent and focus is on learning by working. Being a chartered accountant myself, I am a strong believer of the principle that the best training comes while doing the real-work and not at the class room trainings. Class room trainings just play the role of a catalyst.
- These social assets or infrastructure include building village roads, schools, dispensaries and many other things that may be decided by the respective units at the place of postings at far-flung but remote areas. Working on such initiatives will provide a good training ground to the candidates.
- These apart, certain other skill-based trainings can also be planned during the course of this training period which shall enable development of some sort skills amongst these youth that prepares them to face the world confidently and assertively.
All this will expose the candidates coming from rural backgrounds to entire new world as they will travel across the country and that will in itself be an educating experience to them. This apart, they will also get used to the hard work while working on various projects. This hard work will mentally prepare them to get into any job.
This stint will also expose them to various new ideas, develop connects with fellow batch-mates who will also be from diverse backgrounds. All these will help generate new ideas amongst these youth to get started with their own ventures or work that they may wanting to get in.
Last but not the least, after the 2-3 years of rigorous hard work and training curriculum, these trainees come back home with healthy & physically fit bodies, imaginative minds, positive mindset and attitude towards hard work. This will enable them to take on the world with different perspective which in turn will lead to nation building and at the same time addressing the issue of unemployment & employability quotient.
My last comment before I close, although I have written this with considering Indian job market in the background but this approach can be used by any country. I strongly believe that this shall be tried on experimental basis in some areas and if results are positive, it can be rolled-out in a big way across the country.