The rise of the pandemic unleashed job losses in almost all sectors in India. India’s economy, which is by nature a mixed economy, relies heavily on foreign direct investment inflows and indigenous workers finding work in cities and towns. In turn, it is regulated by government authorities. Several sectors enjoy subsidies and welfare reforms in the process of production of products and services.
Under the current circumstances of pandemic and fears emanating from permanent layoffs, the economy shows signs of a widespread slowdown. The freeze on future hiring also strikes fear in the hearts and minds of jobseekers. At a time when unemployment in India wavers wildly, the uncertainty of the pandemic is like several other challenges India’s huge administrative faction and corporate environment have dealt with. This encompassing situation started with everyone staying indoors. It transitioned by stages all the way up to purveyors suffering job losses in supply chains. Demand and supply are also affected as a consequence.
From an unemployment rate of 7.97% in June 2019 to peak unemployment of 23.52% in April 2020 and 23.48% May 2020, India’s job scene has experienced huge vacillation in the past three years. As of June 17th, 2020, (CMIE data) the rates in urban and rural places in India stand at 17.9% and 16.3% respectively. That’s an average of 16.8% loss of employment for the aforementioned date.
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While some companies lay off some have shown empathy and have taken initiatives to help employees get another job. One such effort is the launch of People+Work Connect. It is a platform powered by Artificial Intelligence. The platform has been developed by Accenture, Lincoln Financial Group, Verizon, and ServiceNow. This is one of the many initiatives launched to ensure forums are available for outfits offering work and individuals seeking it. It serves the greater aim of creating an employer-to-employer sharing environment where transparency is maintained and location-wise search for talent is possible. Since the coronavirus is a widespread outbreak, such a platform is the need of the hour. Also notable is the fact that CHROs are involved in this project, creating relief for laid-off workers.
The way India Inc. responded to the call for the systematic resolution of a deepening problem for India’s population is admirable. Even the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has requested for exact figures of formal and informal job losses in India due to the pandemic. As the economy is slowly sprouting, this data could be very vital for new job creation.
Not to be outdone by the private sector, the government has a National Employment Policy in the works to tackle the long-term effects of job losses in India. This is a two-pronged attack on the unemployment rate in India as it seeks to create openness about vacancies and addresses skill gaps.
Other state governments have also been actively geared in creating local jobs for the returned migrants. Yogi Adithyanath, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, leads this constructive planning. After reviewing numbers by India Industries Association and FICCI, UP government promised jobs for 11 lakh migrant workers. Madhya Pradesh also keeps tabs on the 13.74 lakh migrant workers who have returned to the state.
India’s job losses situation is not as disconcerting as the International Monetary Fund has predicted for developing economies. Despite the expected 3% slowdown in 2020 suggested, India’s track record of facing up to global economic slowdowns, civilian crisis, political unrest, and war has equipped it well to counter unfavorable conditions of job losses. This is true despite COVID-19 impact on jobs and losses, which is expected to last for a minimum of 3-6 months.
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Backing this favorable trend are the resilient, young workforce of India who collectively retain skill development plans through waves of corporate layoffs and job cuts in startups. The slew of courses being availed online so they can cross-train themselves and apply for newer jobs is a testament to Indian workforce resilience.
- Prerna Sindwani, Accenture launches People+ Work connect to help fired employees find jobs, Business Insider, April 14th, 2020
- Tarush Bhalla, Startups begin outplacement of laid-off staff, Live Mint, May 24th, 2020
- Sanya Dhingra, How many jobs have we lost during lockdown? PMO seeks answers from ministries, The Print, June 2nd, 2020
- Jayant Sinha, Job and trade loss will be common in Covid-hit world. But for India, it’s just another storm, The Print, June 2nd, 2020