Wellness measures/programs, seamless service delivery and creating an ecosystem that provides opportunities for young people are touted by the BJP government as its USP.
However, a multitude of social protection schemes place a heavy burden on the public treasury and limit investment and job creation. Often the private sector bears the brunt, due to the higher borrowing costs generated by public spending on social measures. Shouldn’t welfare measures ensure that recipients achieve permanent autonomy and forfeit these benefits?
The NDA government in its first term launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), a skills development initiative, with an expenditure of ₹120 billion. It aims to provide young people with skills, training and industry-oriented skills. The program also plans to provide job placement opportunities or opportunities to engage in entrepreneurship. The initiative saw 54 percent placements, with 80 percent in the salaried job category and 18 percent and 2 percent in the self-employed and apprentice category, respectively.
However, this placement result is not encouraging considering that around 19.86 lakh, 1.10 crore and 5.28 lakh applicants are said to have undergone training under PMKVY 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0, respectively ( www.pmkvyofficial. org).
In 2015, the Skill India program was launched to train over 30 million people by 2022.
SANKALP (Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion Program), another Skill India Mission program with an allocation of ₹4,000 crore, involves training young people to embark on entrepreneurship.
Many other initiatives have been proposed and carried out with the aim of training the future workforce and future job creators.
In addition, the government is also encouraging women in rural India to become self-employed through various campaigns and initiatives focusing on women and rural areas.
Startup India, Digital India, Make in India, Standup India, etc. are some of the other employment initiatives.
Despite the multitude of government efforts, according to the Indian Economy Monitoring Center (December 2021), nearly 53 million Indians are underemployed, with a large proportion of them women, while the unemployment rate is of 7.91%. There is a marginal improvement of 1.34% in employability in January 2022.
Data from the ONSS also presents a catastrophic picture, with an unemployment rate of 6.1% in 2017-2018. The pandemic has further aggravated the situation.
In addition, significantly low labor force participation has been consistently reported in rural areas vis à vis urban areas, according to the Periodic Labor Force Survey (PFLS) 2019-20.
Ineffective implementation is at the root of poor program execution. Sometimes the commitments of implementing agencies are not aligned with the government’s vision. However, when a time-limited goal is given, bureaucracy often rises to the occasion. An array of benefits generated and delivered through the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity is a good example of this.
Since job creation through skills development programs is crucial, it is incumbent on policy makers to prepare a plan for its implementation obligatorily at the time of conceptualizing the policy itself. Alternatively, a body like the NITI Aayog can be tasked with implementing government programs and ensuring effective delivery.
The author teaches in the Department of Production and Industrial Engineering at MBM University, Jodhpur. Views are personal
April 24, 2022