The National Skills Development Corp. (NSDC), along with an artificial intelligence company, is working on a new platform to map skilled and certified workers with demand clusters based on industrial requirements.
The skill management information system aims to create a local ecosystem in every region to minimise the need to depend on migrants, as well as to provide workers with opportunities closer to their homes. NSDC is the implementing body of the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship.
The initiative will help both companies and workers, said government authorities, adding that as businesses start opening up amid the lockdown there is an increased need for skilled professionals and the platform will help meet this demand.
The nationwide lockdown, which began on 25 March and has been extended four times till 31 May, and the subsequent closure of establishments, led to reverse migration of workers, who form part of the unorganized sector, constituting about 90% of India’s total workforce of nearly 500 million.
According to industry estimates, the lockdown has impacted 65% of manufacturing output, 60% of construction activity and 53% of services due to the unavailability of workers.
Manish Kumar, managing director and chief executive, NSDC, said skilled professionals can earn up to 9% more, while those who complete certifications can earn almost 15% more than unskilled workers.
“We expect a lot of migrant workers returning to their hometowns would want to re-skill themselves according to the demand of the local economy. We started working on this platform with a private company to address the demand-supply gap."
The platform will map details of skilled professionals by region, as well as demand across industries, using artificial intelligence-based solutions, so that the best professionals to do a particular job in the vicinity can be mapped to the requirement.
The portal is expected to be launched by mid-June in partnership with Bengaluru-based blue-collar workforce management startup Betterplace. NSDC has also partnered with several other companies for various skilling initiatives. It is currently working with 100 different clusters, as defined by the CMIE based on economic activity, to provide demand-specific courses in these regions.
“Our approach is to impart skills to reduce travelling and migration requirement. We also realised when people move into urban areas their bargaining power reduces due to the supply surplus," said Kumar.
Lohit Bhatia, president, workforce management, Quess Corp., said during the lockdown daily wagers and platform, or gig workers lost their jobs and started moving back to their villages, where they have lower cost of living, as well as alternative livelihood options such as farming.
“India may very well move from a labour-surplus situation currently with most economic activity closed, and shift towards labour shortage in the next 3-6 months as economic activity gathers pace and we head towards the seasonal peak during the August to October period," he added. Therefore, the need to map supply-demand of the workforce will only increase in the coming months.
Kumar said post-lockdown, agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry courses will see more demand, and there will also be higher demand for healthcare courses. Since the lockdown, NSDC has observed a 700% increase in the learning traffic from smartphone users. However, affordability of data and devices is still a concern for a large part of the user base, said Kumar.