Mapping skills and Jobs

During this pandemic, we need to tap the rich human resource that we have within and without the state. Let us tap this resource wisely and in good time. Or else, it may explode and become a major nightmare.

On July 5, state Labour Minister Dr Th Radheshyam launched a website developed for online data collection of skills/work experience of the COVID-19 returnees of the State. It was indeed a welcome step towards rehabilitation of our people who were otherwise employed in various capacities in different cities of the country.

In a massive operation conducted by the state COVID-19 Control Room, thousands of students, professionals and others were brought back to the state. Although, there were hiccups here and there in the operation, Chief Minister N Biren Singh and his team deserve a pat on the back for conducting such a daunting task successfully. Th Radheshyam, in his role as the Labour and Employment Minister, also rose to the occasion to start this skill mapping exercise. That is commendable. We need more ministers like him.

Yet, we have to consider the larger picture of massive displacement and layoffs right here in the state caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and consequent lockdown, also. It is not the returnees alone, who are facing job loss and lack of employment spaces previously present. Thousands of employees in the private sector are either experiencing lay-offs or pay-cuts.

Besides that, thousands of daily wagers are facing extreme difficulties. It is true, the skill data collected through the website will facilitate government policy making through discussions with key stakeholders. And the recent move in involving different stakeholders and experts is very much appreciated.

What we would like to suggest is for broadening the scope of skill mapping so as to encompass all the citizens of Manipur including the returnees. Available data of category wise returnees indicate, the returnees were earlier employed in different sectors such as restaurants/hotels, private companies, retail, health care, salon/parlours, BPOs, airlines, private banks, among others.

Their continued unemployment and lack of employment opportunities in the near future would certainly develop into a major problem for the state, if we fail to shape a holistic approach in time.

We can replicate the Uttar Pradesh model. There is no shame in borrowing good ideas, if it will help in solving our problems. The Yogi Adityanath government recently cleared the proposal for setting up of a Workers’ Employment Commission, which will be mandated for facilitating jobs to the migrant and other state workers.

The Commission was the first of its kind being set up in the country and it underlined the priority accorded by the Yogi government towards the welfare of the migrants and state workers and labourers. Last month, the Adityanath government had announced to set up the Commission in the wake of the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from other states, especially Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and Delhi, following COVID-19 lockdown by special trains and roadways buses. Manipur does need an Employment Commission, as the state has a large skilled force.

The pandemic COVID-19 has also revealed the rich human resource that we have within and without the state. Let us tap this resource wisely and in good time. Or else, it may explode and become a major nightmare.

First Published: July 25, 2020, 7:07 a.m.