Odisha’s Mineral Based Industries Should Step Up To Meet Unemployment Challenges

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Bhubaneswar: India’s prowess in science & technology reached a new pinnacle when ISRO’s PSLV successfully launched 104 Satellites in a single flight into space. Later this year, another launch of ISRO’s vehicle will enable an indigenously developed rover to land on mars. With booming startups and in diverse sectors, India’s development story has always banked upon the shoulders of a healthy demographic dividend pooled from the vastness of its youth population. However, it should be a government’s priority to ensure that in our country with a burgeoning population, creating jobs, skilled employment openings & sustainable livelihood opportunities is a continuous and a critical process.

According to 2017 World Employment and Social Outlook report by The United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO), manufacturing growth has underpinned India’s recent economic performance. In Odisha, the mining sector contributed on an average about 12 percent of GSDP of the State at 2011-12 prices during last five years, according to the Odisha Economic Survey, 2016 -17. Industrialization lies at the heart of Odisha’s growth story. Most of Odisha’s industries are mineral-based. In a State, richly blessed with ample natural resources, mining and manufacturing industries hold the key to unlock the vast potential of mineral wealth and subsequently create thousands of jobs for the unemployed but able youth of the State.

BLEAK FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

  • According to Quarterly Employment Survey, the next wave of job losses is expected to happen in three key services sectors — software, telecom and BFSI. Nearly 1.5 million white collar jobs will be shed in 12-18 months.
  • According to Head Hunters India Founder-Chairman & MD K Lakshmikanth, “Contrary to media reports of 56,000 IT professionals to lose jobs this year, the actual job cuts will be between 1.75 lakh and 2 lakh per year in next three years, due to under- preparedness in adapting to newer technologies”
  • Other sectors have also not created adequate jobs for the vast number of engineers (800,000 a year) and graduates (12 million a year) that India’s colleges churn out every year.

However, in spite of rapid strides in industrialization, there have been critical detractions which have hindered the growth of the State time and again. This has seriously marred the fruitful outcomes like employment generation, wealth creation to eradicate poverty and malnutrition, provide healthcare and education in remote areas of the State among other benefits. One doesn’t have to look far into the past to find such examples which have created hurdles in the path of development for the people who desperately needed it the most.

POSCO’s exit form Odisha is a glaring example. The 52,000 crore project in 2005 could have been the single largest foreign investment in the State’s history which was forced to turn away, thanks to the concerted efforts of vested interest groups. It is a matter of great concern for a State ranking 14th in the unemployment rate index, even standing lower than its neighbor West Bengal according to the Economic Survey 2016-17. According to Odisha Economic Survey 2016-17, the unemployment rate in Odisha was 4.3 percent in 2013-14 as against 3.4 percent in the country.

MIGRATION OF LABOUR

  • According to The Economic Survey 2016-17, in a study involving latest methodology of Cohort-based Migration Metric (CMM), it was found out that migration for work and education is accelerating.
  • In the period 2001-2011, the rate of growth of labour migrants nearly doubled relative to the previous decade, rising to 4.5 per cent per annum.
  • The acceleration of migration was particularly pronounced for females and increased at nearly twice the rate of male migration in the 2000s.
  • Odisha ranks 9th in the statistics of outbound migration in the country.

At a time when most countries in the West, including the US, are busy protecting their own industries by jobs exclusively for their natives, it is India which has to now create employment and job opportunities for its own youth. The worldwide situation has been aggravated recently especially due to large-scale layoffs in the IT sector leading to reverse migration and job shortage in our country. According to Head Hunters India Founder-Chairman and MD K Lakshmikanth, “Contrary to media reports of 56,000 IT professionals to lose jobs this year, the actual job cuts will be between 1.75 lakh and 2 lakh per year in next three years, due to under- preparedness in adapting to newer technologies” after analysing a report submitted by McKinsey & Company at the Nasscom India Leadership Forum. With the service industry reeling under global uncertainties, our manufacturing industries have the potential to generate enormous employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities in Odisha, even triggering another spurt of growth in enabling services like IT as well.

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