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India’s Jobs Crisis And The Role Of The Government


Relook At The Public Sector Recruitment Model

Over and above these factors, University of California economist Karthik Muralidharan has argued that it is the current structure of hiring in the public sector which creates several inefficiencies in the productivity and effectiveness of publicly provided services. In the paper, he proposes an interesting alternative approach to hiring in the public sector with the objective of delivering public services more effectively within the same fiscal envelope. While his proposal does not pertain to the defence sector, it merits close examination in times when the government is attempting to play an important role in job creation.

Some key features of his framework are as follows:

  • Create untenured apprenticeship positions lasting three to five years in major frontline service delivery departments ( police, teaching, community health, and early-childhood care) at lower entry-level pay scales than the status quo.

  • Create modular training courses alongside the apprenticeship, allow the interspersing of theory and practice and provide certificates of levels of skilling that are compatible with the new National Skills Qualification Framework.

  • Retain the current pay scales and process for hiring regular full-time staff (including age limits for entry), but provide extra performance-based credit for each year of successful service as an apprentice.

  • Provide one-time payments to apprentices who do not get hired into regular full-time positions at the end of their eligibility age.

Apart from increasing hiring in entry-level jobs which will help to deal with the grave but the oft-ignored challenge of a high inactivity rate amongst the youth (over 30% of India’s youth are not reported to be in education, employment or training), Muralidharan argues that such a program will improve the effectiveness of training and the match quality of front-line service jobs by allowing candidates to experience the actual job for a few years before getting absorbed into permanent positions. For those not getting selected for regular positions, the credentials accumulated during the apprenticeship will improve their skills and employability in the private sector.

Altering the model of public sector recruitment is by no means an easily accomplishable task in India. However, as the jobs challenge mounts, it is important to not just rethink the role of the government in creating jobs directly, but also how the hiring method for public sector jobs could be revised to improve labour market outcomes for the youth. Key features of the Agnipath scheme and Muralidharan’s proposal outlined above offer innovative takeaways for recruitment processes outside the defence sector and deserve careful consideration.





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