Labour minister Harish Rawat says the government is confident of creating 58 million additional jobs by the end of the 11th Five Year Plan in 2012 thanks to the smart recovery in the farm sector and its resultant impact on the rural economy.
"Agriculture has responded very positively. With economy poised to grow at nine percent in this fiscal year, we will be able to meet the target," Rawat said in an interview, adding his assessment was that the country now was mid-way in realising the target.
"I can't say there will be zero unemployment, but it will stay in control," he said. "The real position will be known after data on employment and unemployment is released by the National Sample Survey Organisation."
Even though agriculture was not among the sectors identified by the central government for incremental employment during the 11th Plan, Rawat said buoyancy in the sector will be beneficial as it employs two-thirds of the labour force, directly or indirectly.
The country's farm sector grew 2.5% in the first quarter and 4.4% in the second quarter of this fiscal, as opposed to a mere 1.9% and 0.9%, respectively, during two corresponding quarters last fiscal.
The gross domestic product (GDP) climbed 8.9% each in the first two quarters.
Rawat said the 10th Five Year Plan target of creating 50 million additional jobs fell short by three million due to a shortfall in fresh employment in sectors like manufacturing, transport, tourism and agriculture.
As per the report on the employment and unemployment survey released by the labour ministry in October, the unemployment rate in India was 9.4% last fiscal. In the rural areas the unemployment rate was 10.1% and in the urban areas 7.3%.
The labour minister said his ministry had also put together a working draft of a new employment policy, which aims at creating skilled manpower according to industry needs, which has also been the main demand of the private sector.
"The focus of the policy will be on employment generation and productivity with flexible framework of training," Rawat said, adding the document was being considered by the top authorities in the government.
He said the government has charted out plans to modernise employment exchanges under the public-private partnership model so that accurate data on vacancies, along with the required skill set, is easily available online.
He said 37 million people were currently registered with employment exchanges.
"The exchanges should not only serve as points of registration for people seeking jobs but also provide counselling. The government is planning steps to make them a platform for employers to post their vacancies and get information on available skillsets .