When it comes to paying top dollars, government and public sector jobs may trail behind the corporate sector but when it comes to attracting talent, the government continues to score over the private sector.
The Invest India Incomes and Savings Survey 2007 conducted by IIMS Dataworks, a retail finance research firm based in the Delhi suburb of Noida, estimates that more than half of the country’s 21.6 million graduates, between 18 and 59 years old, who are salaried employees, work for the state or Union government and public sector jobs.
Government jobs accounted for the largest chunk of all occupations held by graduates, with over 28% bachelor’s degree holders preferring the security associated with government jobs.
Pankaj Kumar, 28, who lives in Mumbai, is one of them. Kumar gave up a well-paying corporate job with GE Capital Services India to take up a government job.
Kumar, an award-winning economics postgraduate from the Delhi School of Economics, is now working with the Reserve Bank of India’s economic analysis and policy department. “For me, the key attraction in a government job was the scope to learn,” he says. “I am academically inclined and this career gives me enough opportunities to advance my knowledge.”
Last year, the Union Public Service Commission received a total of 12,12,580 applications for jobs in the civil services and defence services.
Although there are several graduates who prefer to take up private sector jobs, a vast majority of these graduates who are working with the government took these jobs because they had few choices. “Traditionally, the government has been the largest creator of jobs, so you will naturally find a higher concentration of educated people in civil services,” says Siddhartha Roy, economic advisor, Tata Sons.
According to Anamitra Roychowdhury, an economist with the Economic Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank, the government is likely to continue to be the largest generator of employment. “The government has some social responsibility to generate organized employment, so I don’t see its share reducing in the short to medium term,” he says. Public sector organizations typically have a large headcount and hence are likely to skew the ratio of employed graduates.
Predictably, the Invest India survey indicates that the earning levels of most young graduates in private sector are much higher at more than Rs1.5 lakh per year, while those with jobs in government earned less than Rs80,000 annually. Older Union government employees, who are graduates, are better off in terms of remuneration and earn an average annual salary between Rs1.5 lakh and Rs.3.9 lakh. The corresponding salaries in the private sector generally are between Rs.2.5 lakh and Rs.3.5 lakh.
The salary levels doesn’t bother the likes of Kumar. “I have a better work-life balance now than when I was working for a private firm,” he says.
Nearly 22.7% of the graduates surveyed for the study work for private companies. “The penetration of banking, retail and entertainment into smaller towns and rural India will result in the growth of private sector employment,” says Tata Sons’ Roy. “Even the creation of special economic zones will result in creation of jobs on a large scale.”