A recent study has revealed that 60% of the companies engaging temp staff accelerate faster out of a downturn. And flexi employees have the opportunity to constantly upskill.
By Suchita Dutta
Jobs is the most critical concern in India, and more so in the formal sector. The country is in dire of policies that will help create a healthy economy that can bring formal jobs. The labour reforms are clearly ‘in crying need of change’.
Faster growth of jobs must be the principal objective. For this, strong voices have been urging the government to bite the bullet and make bold labour market reforms. For an effective labour market to function, industries need to have the right labour policies to be productive; people need to have access to the social security framework and the government should be benefiting through more taxpayers. Currently, pushed to the wall, alternates are on the rise, but these are not the solution, they are diversions. Automation on one hand and gig on the other are ends to meet through diversions, as no solution on labour reforms is showing results. It has been a serious issue as there is a decline in the number of formal jobs leading to a decline in working-age population.
Employable versus employment
India has the advantage of the right working-age population and also the numbers, but has the worst ratio of employable people available. The paradox is we need people for jobs, but there aren’t as many employable people. On top of that, there are migration-related issues. State governments could easily become facilitators in providing opportunities to attract talent while upskilling their own, but no such agreements between states have even been thought of. So, people who can be employed are not there where jobs are.
Ease of doing business: A term used so often, yet is a dream for start-ups and organisation in the MSME sector. Ease of doing business is determined by three main factors: cutting down the number of laws, simplifying the process of compliances, and filing of paperwork. In short, digitisation by going paperless, presence-less and cashless, by assembling labour laws into a single labour code.
The government must direct efforts towards bringing more people into the formal job sector where they can get benefits of social security, health benefits, among others. According to Indian Staffing Federation’s report findings, of the 406.4 million workforce, only 50.8 million comprise of formal and 355.6 million are in the informal sector.
To change this, options like flexi staffing should be promoted; these remove the burden of the unorganised sector and bring a larger workforce in formal employment. From the perspective of organised temporary staffing, the staffing industry acts as a force multiplier for ‘formal jobs for all’. It provides a platform for recognised employment, work choice, even compensation, annual benefits and health benefits for the temporary workforce. The acceptance of temporary jobs, however, is still low in India, as the requirement of security comes attached with the word ‘permanent’ and is the driving factor of all decisions.
The organised temporary or flexible staffing industry is not new to India, and the industry is growing at over 20% year-on-year consistently. Our study has revealed that 60% of the organisations engaging temporary staff accelerate faster out of a downturn. And a key benefit for flexi employees is the opportunity to keep themselves abreast with continual skill development.
A regulated contract staffing industry can be the employment mobiliser that can help in upskilling the freshers and also the dropouts to become employable and industry-ready.
‘Formal jobs’ is the aspiration to the much-needed productivity the country needs, to boost the economy. An inclusive roadmap for creating quality jobs across sectors and improving job opportunities through potential job creators can be addressed by bringing enablers through secure employment avenues.
The author is executive director, Indian Staffing Federation