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Skills crunch, so chamber wants simpler work permits

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) is seeking a single-window clearance system and simpler rules for grant of work permits to expatriates, reports M Singh.

business Updated: Jul 10, 2007 02:17 IST
Madhur Singh

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) is seeking a single-window clearance system and simpler rules for grant of work permits to expatriates, which it says is necessary in view of severe skills shortages in some sectors.

“India Inc needs to admit that it is moving towards a major manpower crunch,” says IACC chairperson Deepak Pahwa, adding that many westerners both have the skills and are willing to work in Asia. “We need to gear up for a global war for talent,” he adds, pointing out that there are far fewer expatriates working in India than in other Asian countries.

Among the BRIC economies, India is generating the maximum number of jobs every year - 11.3m as compared to 7m in China, 2.7m in Brazil and 0.7m in Russia, an IACC study says. In particular, the Indian BPO, pharmaceuticals and technology sectors will need massive manpower induction over the next few years.

However, a recent Nasscom study says only one in four Indian engineering graduates has the required level of technical skills, knowledge of international business practices, fluency in the English languages and proper networking abilities. Another study by Evalueserve, a KPO provider, states that the Indian BPO industry will need over 1,20,000 foreign professionals by 2010.

The skills shortage is most acute at the mid and top rungs.

“It is clear that there is a pressing need for expats to work in some key sectors in India,” says Pahwa. However, he points out that the procedures are long drawn out and very stringent. For instance, work permits are usually tied to a particular job, which is a big disincentive for someone taking the risk to relocate to a new country.

“The government in a true progressive spirit should provide single-window clearance and simpler work permits to expats,” says Pahwa.