NEW DELHI : The skill development and entrepreneurship ministry is setting up a national skills registry to match trained job seekers and apprentices with employers.

The move comes against the background of a heightened debate over the lack of jobs in the country.

The registry will initially capture data of nearly 20 million trained people and will build in a system to match them with around 20,000 companies and organisations, the ministry said.

The national database, which is being developed by technology firm IBM, will not only contain records of people trained by 22 ministries and departments of the Union government but will also integrate all state skills missions.

“The idea came from the cabinet secretary. During one of our review meetings, the cabinet secretary suggested that a national registry on skills be established. The way we have a national database for passports and pan cards, we shall have a national registry for skills. IBM is developing the registry for us," said Rajesh Agrawal, a joint secretary in the ministry who is overseeing the project.

The project will be the first major initiative to be implemented by the new government post elections, according to officials in the ministry.

At present, there is no system to provide a fair sense on what kind of jobs are in demand in a particular region, Agrawal said. This is making it difficult to match supply with demand, he said. Once the database is in place and state missions are on board “we can have geography specific training and placement", said the joint secretary.

“Jobs is a big debate in India, and if we can match trained manpower with what employers are looking for, it will help in employment generation and sustainable livelihood," he said.

Jobs or the lack of it has been a huge debate in India for the last few years. The centre maintains that a lot of employment is being created in the formal sector and counts Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation data to present its case on formalization of workforce.

Critics, however, believe the government suppressed jobs data reports in the last couple of years to cover growing unemployment. The leaked National Sample Survey Office report has showed the unemployment rate in 2017-18 was at a four-decade high of 6.1%. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMI), a private data research organisation, has estimated that in 2018, nearly 11 million people lost jobs—9.1 million in rural India and 1.8 million in urban India. In contrast, the government claims it has added some 10 million jobs in the 18 months ended 31 December 2018. “The month of April 2019 ended with an unemployment rate of 7.60% and there is a 95% chance that the true unemployment rate is between 7.59% and 7.61%," CMIE said on its website.

While India adds about 12 million people to the labour market each year, employment generation has not kept pace with demand.

A national skills database may help match jobseekers with employers, according to the authorities.

Agrawal said the initiative will help in the five key areas of policy making, matching of jobs, bolstering the skill education ecosystem, reducing duplication and ensuring effective communication with all stakeholders.


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