New Delhi: The government will come out with a blueprint for creating high-paying jobs for the youth as it tries to assess the job situation on the ground and fix the problems, Railway minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday.

The minister’s assurance of an action plan to create high-paying jobs, which will be chalked out after consultations, comes amid mounting concerns over jobless growth and ahead of the general elections due in April-May.

“The government, economists and think tanks need to engage more to find more paying and quality employment opportunities for the youth and how we can capture employment data more accurately," Goyal told industry leaders at a workshop on jobs and livelihoods organised by industry chamber, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Goyal said it was important to have accurate assessment of the level of employment in the economy. “In the case of Railways, we had about 15 million people applying for 132,000 jobs. This is often touted as a data point about unemployment...But, one should not be carried away by false data points, such as the number of people applying for government jobs." The minister said while one cannot deny that a lot of people are looking for employment in the formal sector, a lot of them are already working in private sector or are self employed. “The lure of a government job in the traditional Indian context is extremely huge."

“Possibly, we can do some more engagement in other parts of the country and, by the end of January, we can come up with an actionable agenda on assessing and finding the reality on the ground and then ways to fix them." Many entrepreneurs say they find it a challenge to get the right talent, the minister added.

Enabling job seekers to find employment appropriate to their qualifications and collection of accurate data on employment are two key issues before the government, said human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar, who was present on the occasion.

“We have been creating jobs since liberalisation. Only jobs change their nature," said Javadekar. If India’s economy is growing fast, it was creating jobs as well, he said. “It is important to capture data on job creation."

Economists said that declining employment elasticity—the ability of an economy to create jobs in relation to its growth rate—was not a problem specific to India, but faced by many other markets.

“Latin America, East Asia and the Middle East have shown a decline in employment elasticity, according to International Labour Organization estimates. This makes us believe India’s problem is a wage problem," said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic advisor, State Bank of India, who also spoke at the event.

“If employment elasticity is declining and the link with the gross domestic product is breaking down, it means the country is producing jobs but may not be quality jobs that it needs to produce. It is a global problem and India is no exception," said Ghosh.

India’s efforts should be toward greater job formalization, social security coverage and data capture, he said.

Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of CII, said while jobs are providing livelihood to millions of people, it is important to ensure good jobs and higher incomes.

About 9.1 million people had left formal jobs between September 2017 and August 2018, with only 1.85 million of them coming back to formal jobs, according to India’s latest payroll data extrapolated from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Overall, EPFO has added about 14.56 million subscribers between September 2017 and August 2018. India adds nearly 12 million people to the workforce every year but the job creation has not kept pace with the demand.

Prashant Nadda contributed to this story.

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