Recently, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) released unemployment figures for the nation, and Goa did not fare very well.
The employment rate for Goa was pegged at 13 per cent, which is higher than the national average of 8.4 per cent and much, much higher than all the small states.
Chief Minister Pramod Savant was rattled by the figures, and his first reaction was to throw his hands up in the air and say, “The state government alone cannot be held responsible for this.” When a chief minister does that, it does not bode well for the unemployed or the underemployed.
A couple of months back, Niti Aayog, the think tank set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said around 1.1 lakh youth in Goa were unemployed. Then, the chief minister stood up to defend the reputation of the state.
He said the unemployment figure was actually 20,000, as 80,000 youth who were employed in the private sector continue to remain on the rolls of the employment exchange because they are still waiting for their dream jobs in the government.
Sawant got away with that statement because it was something that everyone had suspected for a long time.
However, when CMIE released its data, which, by the way, is a lot more scientific than the Employment Exchange’s methodology (if there is one), he was stumped for an answer. So he simply put his hands up in the air and said, “Sorry, I can’t do this.”
First things first. Goa, being a small state, has historically not been able to provide employment to one and all. This is why Goans migrate all over the world in search of greener pastures.
So it is unfair to expect Sawant to fix the problem when no one in the past has been able to do it.
For instance, Goa has a plethora of engineering colleges which churn out a number of graduates each year.
Now, a small state cannot create jobs for all these engineers because, for every engineering job to be created, one has to generate several more jobs at the lower level.
So, we could end up with a lot of lower-level jobs which no one wants because they don’t pay well.
Even in his helplessness, the chief minister, coherently or incoherently, suggested a way out of this conundrum when he said skill education is necessary to fill the gaps and hopefully bring down the unemployment rate. But this is easier said than done.
Matching education to job requirement is a skill in itself and the state government must take this up in earnest.
The first step is to collect proper data. For that to happen, the Employment Exchange has to upgrade its data collection methodology, and it could learn a thing or two from the CMIE.
The government also needs to gradually create a database to map the quantity and quality of jobs created in the state. Institutions cannot match education to job requirements if the quality and nature of jobs created in the state are not known.
More importantly, salaries paid must be known, because more often than not, it is the salary that determines whether a resident will continue to reside in Goa or migrate.
So, the government has a job to do, and Sawant cannot throw his hands up in the air and say it is not his job.