Employment Conundrum Post Covid-19
The lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 pandemic has led to huge job losses, pay cuts, and will see a widespread freezing of hiring throughout 2020. This will worsen an already bleak employment scenario that India is facing. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), one in four employees in India lost jobs as a result of the Covid-19 induced scare that led to a nationwide cessation of economy. A whopping 12 crore people are now unemployed, and the worst hit industries are tourism, travel and hospitality, and worse may be yet to come. The manufacturing sector is eagerly awaiting the total lifting of lockdown by the government to allow its full workforce to return to work. Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to employers not to make cutbacks, several companies have had to cut salaries and retrenched employees out of necessity. We are currently in a flat or negative economy, wherein the compression in demand has severely impacted cash flow. Post lockdown, the world of work and employment will no longer be what we used to know. For many, the uncertainty of livelihood will be a painful and treacherous road ahead.
Nagaland has seen a huge number of returnees come back home; approximately 16,000 people have returned. For many of these returnees and many others within the state, the pandemic has forced them into unemployment and the future looks bleak as Covid-19 numbers continue to rise in the state, the country and the world over. Addressing this jobs challenge will be a herculean task and will require innovative approaches. As for the Nagaland government, a job portal has been launched by the Labour department in partnership with the Information Technology and Communication department to connect job seekers and employers in the private sector. This effort is a step in the right direction, as it has created a platform not only for connecting people to employers, but will also provide the government essential data on the capabilities and aspirations of the youths through which it can make informed decisions on future plans for the economic sector. Additionally, the chief minister Neiphiu Rio-led high powered committee has directed the Industries and Commerce department to register all returnees for skill development training, to enable and equip citizens with self-employment capabilities.
Even before the pandemic, it was becoming increasingly evident that the young and upcoming workforce would have limited job opportunities as a result of job stagnation. What is required of those entering and re-entering the workforce is to constantly upskill themselves. Education has evolved beyond classrooms and diplomas to life-long learning of skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and developing a beginner’s mindset. It is up to the aspiring individuals to use this time to assess one’s strengths, weaknesses and interests, followed by a study of market opportunities, and honing of workplace skills. For employers, trend that has surfaced amidst this pandemic is an increase in number of people wanting to work remotely, and thus the need to explore employees’ critical competencies and collaborating digitally. Use of non-traditional employee monitoring tools has risen, with employers using technology to monitor employee’s computer usage, virtual clocking in and out, and monitoring internal emails and communications. Contingency worker expansion and humanisation of employees is also required to prepare for and understand human conditions. As for the government, though efforts have begun, a comprehensive and calculated rewrite of our economic systems is required to create a more democratic and sustainable society post Covid-19.