By Sunil K Dayal
With the emergence and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still reeling from its impact and having to adapt and cope with an altered way of life. The changing times and their consequences have affected almost every sector and function across the economy, the human capital function being the worst hit of them all. In the pre-pandemic era, two types of youth could not migrate from their tier 2 and 3 hometowns – ones who could not afford to live in metros; and the second kind, who were tied down by personal commitments. In short, the country had a massive percentage of youth squandering their growth opportunities and compromising on their dreams by settling for lower salaries and mediocre lifestyles. Keeping in mind the current circumstances, the past two years have along with all the chaos brought with them an economic lockdown forcing a reverse migration. By reverse migration, we mean the movement of a large populace back to their native places in the backdrop of unavailability of employment and shelter.
The pandemic struck unemployment crisis , road to recovery
The latest report from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) reveals that salaried jobs across India registered a sharp decline in 2020-21 to the tune of 9.8 million. India had a total of 85.9 million salaried jobs in 2019-20 which, by the end of March 2021, reduced to 76.2 million. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way of working with jobs opening up in newer locations. With more people moving back to tier 2 and 3 cities and more jobs becoming location independent, companies witnessed a dire need of providing work-from-home facilities and also increasing employment opportunities in such markets. Due to these changes and more work-from-home options, there has been a significant increase of advertised jobs in tier 2 and 3 cities from just about 3% in the pre-pandemic era to more than 8% in the current times. Technology has played a pivotal role in creating and enabling such opportunities.
Technology enabling work from home infrastructure
Amid the pandemic, the huge employment gap that existed between freshers from large metros vs youth from tier 2-3 cities has narrowed considerably. With campus placement opportunities declining due to the pandemic, companies today conduct such recruitment interviews online and hire candidates not only from metros but also from small towns and rural areas. Rapid advancements in the telecom field along with the adoption of technologies like Zoom, MS Teams have enabled virtual meetings. Software tools like MS One Drive and Google Drive have made file sharing and collaboration a cakewalk. The work-from-home framework allows people to not be physically present at offices and yet be efficient, effective, and productive. All these factors combined with the shift away from location-based hiring, has led to a significant jump in job availability in tier 2 and 3 cities.
Technology empowering other sectors
Sectors like agriculture, IT and start-ups, energy production, infrastructure, retail, etc. are the top employment generating sectors. The next wave of job creation points towards the agriculture sector wherein the total private investment is expected to jump to Rs 139,424 crore by 2022-23 from Rs 61,000 crore in 2015-16. The marriage of technology with the existing sectors, introduces artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, and cloud computing which boosts the sector’s ability to provide a massive number of job opportunities.
Increased digitisation and automation will significantly affect both the quality and quantity of jobs. New types of employment opportunities are changing the nature and conditions of work by altering the skill requirements and replacing traditional patterns and places of work. These changes provide increased opportunities to developing countries, to enter new, fast-growing sectors and catch up with more advanced economies.
The world is no longer what we knew it to be. To work in mega-companies like Accenture, IBM, Infosys, etc., one need not be living in metro cities anymore. Rapid digitisation and the growth of technology have made career options widespread. Opportunities in tier 2 & 3 cities have definitively increased and this facilitates local economic development as well as economic growth of the nation as a whole. For this reason, job seekers, graduates, and working professionals must be made aware of the opportunities opened by technological developments in the post-COVID era.
The overall adoption of tech-based solutions in today’s world has led to new avenues and methods to skill and develop an ideal career path. Technologies can help bridge the gap between career counseling and its access to students through digitally integrated and structured assessments. Individuals can now identify and assess their best fit growth opportunities and build their careers in an optimal way, right from the start irrespective of geographical locations.
The author is the Chairman at ProTeen.