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North India's Unemployment Woes Due to Lack of Qualified Candidates: Labour Minister

Gangwar’s comments attracted criticism from opposition politicians but also shine an unflattering spotlight on the Skill India project.

New Delhi: Union labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar stirred controversy on Sunday after indicating that the employment crisis in North Indian states was not due to a lack of jobs, but that recruiting companies could not find enough qualified candidates. 

Gangwar’s comments attracted criticism from opposition politicians but also shine an unflattering spotlight on the Skill India project, a massive initiative that comes under the skill development ministry and works closely with the labour ministry. 

Over the past four years, both supporters and critics of the Centre have pointed out flaws in the flagship Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), which was supposed to align the capabilities of India’s youth to the requirements of India Inc.

“The issue of employment keep figuring in newspapers these days. I am handling the same ministry for labour and employment and examine the issue daily. I have understood the problem,” Gangwar told reporters on Saturday in Bareilly, his Lok Sabha constituency.

“Recruiters who visit north India complain of facing dearth of quality people for the posts they need to fill,” he added.

According to the latest India Skill Report (2019), which is backed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), only a little over of 45% of youth graduating from educational institutions are employable.

Also Read: Top-Level Exits at NSDC as Modi’s Skill India Agenda Still Struggles to Make Headway

Earlier this year, data released by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) also indicated that India’s unemployment rate may have been the highest in over 40 years at 6.1% in 2017-18.

Gangwar’s comments, therefore, come as salt in the wound for a festering problem. In October 2018, The Wire had reported of top level exits at the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), a problem that indicated not all is well with Skill India.

The minister’s remarks drew sharp reactions from opposition with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra saying the government was trying to escape blame for the job losses due to economic slowdown by such “insulting” comments.

“Mr Minister, it has been more than five years for your government. There is no job creation. Whatever jobs were there, they have been snatched due to the economic slowdown brought by the government. You want to escape by insulting North Indians,” she said.

“Youths are looking towards the government hoping that it will do something good for them,” the Congress general secretary said.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said such comments are laughable.

“After the different laughable statements by different Union ministers on the serious issue of economic slowdown, instead of removing unemployment in the country now it is being said that there is no shortage of jobs, but of competence, especially amongst north Indians.

“This is extremely shameful and an apology should be tendered to the nation,” she tweeted.

Clarification?

In an apparent clarification made to news agency ANI, Gangwar, who is a minister of state with independent charge, said that he was trying to paint a different context. 

There was a lack of skill and the government has opened a skill ministry so children can be trained as per the job requirement, he said.

(With inputs from PTI)