Jammu and Kashmir has one of the highest unemployment ratios in India. To overcome joblessness, the government initiated job fairs and invited a lot of companies to hire the unemployed. In 23 fairs, 9743 unemployed youth offered their services to 205 participating companies but only 623 got jobs, reports Fahd Khan
Amid an all-time high unemployment rate and joblessness, Jammu and Kashmir government’s much-hyped job fairs have provided jobs to around six per cent of the participants in 2022 in Kashmir. Lack of technical and communication skills was termed to be the key deficits preventing them from getting hired.
The observation of skill deficit raises doubts about the working of the skilling system, which is apparently a top governance priority.
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) had highlighted the skyrocketing of the unemployment crisis in the past few years. Till mid-January 2023, it stood at 14.8 per cent, which is the sixth highest in the country. Though the survey outcomes had its own factors including Covid19, it generated a lot of debate over the state of joblessness.
Jammu and Kashmir’s Department of District Employment and Counselling Centres in collaboration with some non-governmental organizations hosted a number of job fairs across Kashmir’s 10 districts. It brought potential human resources face-to-face with potential employers from the private sector.
Officials who arranged these events revealed a total of 9743 unemployed youth participated in 23 job fairs that were organized across 10 Kashmir districts in 2022. Of them, only 623 were provided with on-spot placements. Officials said a total of 205 local and national companies participated in these recruitment rallies.
Srinagar hosted two major events and 2900 youth participated along with 67 local and national companies. Eventually, 25 candidates got on-spot placements, officials said.
In the Pulwama district, one job fair was held that attracted the participation of 213 candidates. At the end of it, nobody got a job order.
In Budgam, two fairs were organised in which 381 youth participated, of whom only 20 got placements. A total of 13 local and national companies participated in the event.
In Ganderbal, only one event was organised in which nine youths out of 900 got on-spot placements. Eleven companies participated in the event.
Anantnag hosted two fairs in which 28 youths got placed among 1211 who participated.
In the adjoining Kulgam district, nine job fairs – the highest among all the districts – were conducted in only 474 got placements among the 3117 youth who had participated. A total of 31 local and national companies participated in the event.
In the Shopian district, two job fairs got 13 people recruited among the 450 youth who had participated.
In Baramulla and Bandipore districts, two job fairs each were organised in which 52 youth from the former district got placed out of 325 total participants while just two received placements in the latter district out of a total of 246 participants.
No job fairs, however, was organised in Kupwara.
As many as 211 youths were recommended for skilling and as many as 3928 on-spot registrations were made on the state employment portal.
Apart from these Job Fairs that the Department of District Development and Counselling organised, many similar Job Fairs were organized by non-governmental organizations in view of the surge in the unemployment rate.
In one of such event that the Goodwill Non-governmental organization hosted at Indore Stadium Srinagar, more than 20 MNC’s including local companies participated.
Thousands of youths across Kashmir had thronged the venue to get themselves enrolled in the mega recruitment drives that were being organized both by the government and the NGOs. Some of the companies that participated in the event included SBI Life, HDFC, Jio Care, Tata Motors, Peaks Auto, Kashmir Motors, Himalayan Motors, Shuhul Motors, Ashoka Leyland, LIC, Wishfin, KY Motors, Exide NEO and Fair Deal Motors. Many people even got recruited by US-based companies and are working from home right now.
Government claims notwithstanding, all these job-linked events provided jobs to only six per cent of the total participants. Many youths who had participated in these fairs alleged that despite aspirants possessing higher qualifications and skills, they were not recruited as the companies didn’t have enough vacancies. As per the participating youth, the low salary was also one of the reasons for them not taking up jobs for which they had to move out of Jammu and Kashmir.
Skill proved to be a major setback for the participating youth not getting jobs in the mega recruitment drives. Many youths claimed that despite coming from far-flung areas with the hope of getting jobs, they were offered loans by participating insurance and banking companies.
In a video on social media, a girl who had participated in an event is heard saying: “With a master’s degree and four diplomas, I had very little hope of getting a job in this event. What more qualifications should I possess to get a job? Even we can’t start our own business as banks provide loans against property only or they charge huge interest rates. Even some companies seek experience for jobs. How come an unemployed youth is experienced when he is never provided with a job? Even we don’t have such an exposure here in Kashmir, where we are trained at the grassroots level to start our own businesses”.
“Many of the jobs being provided in these events are routine basic jobs, “one insider said, talking in anonymity. “Jobs being offered are an insurance agent or marketing persons which one can easily get without participating in these events. There were many schemes like this earlier as well.”
The average salaries fixed during the job fairs were Rs 10000. Whether those who got jobs are satisfied and continuing it is the question to be asked.
“Most of the companies recruit candidates based on their skills only but the majority of the people who had participated couldn’t meet the required criteria set by these companies,” a senior official in the Directorate of Employment said: “To keep up the pace in today’s world and to get hired by companies, one should possess both communication and technical skills which our youth mostly lack.”
The officer said they were shocked to see that in one of the recruitment drives at the University of Kashmir, only one could make it up to the interview. “The reason being the communication barrier,” an official at the District Employment and Counselling Centre said.
“We mostly deal with the sale and services of automobiles, most of the students were either overqualified or under-qualified for the Jobs we were providing,” one of the recruiting executives in a local automobile concern, who participated in these fairs, said. “For sales, we particularly needed people having good communication skills and those having experience in the service sector. We too aren’t a big company and have already been under a financial crunch since Covid19 and another crisis. Still, we hired around four to five students and they are currently working in our company under probation. Skill was the main reason that we couldn’t provide jobs to the people”.
It is pertinent to mention that the government has included numerous skill-based courses like IT, management, and tourism at the college level in the past few years, which seems to have a questionable outcome. The government is also imparting job-oriented skill-based courses through polytechnics, hotel management institutes and NIELIT.
“To impart skills to our youth many candidates who had participated in these job fairs were registered for the skill courses being organised by the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS),” an officer at the Directorate of Employment said.
There are many government schemes aimed at up-skilling youth. Himayat was a major flagship scheme under this category under which the youth were trained and later deployed in the market. NIELIT also provided many IT-related courses.
Another scheme was launched by the government in Public Private Partnership mode. It was aimed at improving the quality of the vocational training in the Country and making it demand-driven, so as to ensure better employability of the pass-outs. It covered 32 ITIs in Jammu and Kashmir. Other courses that were launched for the general public also included Sewing, Henna Art, cookery etc.
It seems as if the candidates are yet to be adequately trained or are lacking the actual skill that the employers require.