Jharkhand’s first round of mapping shows 70% of migrant workers are skilled
The skill mapping of 2.5 lakh out of the five lakh migrant workers who returned to Jharkhand from different states has revealed that most are skilled and majority of them were engaged in construction, automotive and electronics sectors, government officials said on Wednesday.
The exercise is being carried out on the instructions of chief minister Hemant Soren so that workers could be provided employment opportunities according to their skills. But economists are skeptical that the government would be able to provide jobs to all of them.
In the first round of skill mapping, Jharkhand government has mapped the skills of 2,50,056 inbound migrant workers till now. Of those surveyed, 1,77,186 or 70% returnees are skilled labourers, while the rest 72,871 are unskilled workers, according to the state government’s assessment.
According to the Jharkhand government records, about seven lakh workers, stranded outside the state had registered with the government to return home. Till now, over five lakh migrant workers have returned to Jharkhand since May 1.
Jharkhand is among several states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, which have carried out skill mapping of migrant workers in a bid to provide them work within their respective states after their return.
The skill of labourers was mapped by dividing them into 52 trades which were further subdivided into 14 sectors. According to first round mapping, a total of 49,942 workers were engaged in various construction works and included painters, masons and carpenters.
As many as 34,757 workers have experience in the automotive sector, 22,238 workers in logistics, 21,054 in electronics, 17,291 in apparel, 15,692 in tourism and hospitality and 11,511 in the healthcare sector. Besides, 17,768 workers have experience in beauty wellness, capital goods, financial services, information technology, plumbing, retail and security.
But providing job opportunities to such a large scale of migrant returnees will be a major big challenge for the Jharkhand government, said Belgium-born economist Jean Dreze.
“I don’t expect the Jharkhand government to provide much employment to skilled workers from its own funds. If it has no money to pay its own employees, how is it going to employ large numbers of extra workers?” Dreze said.
Dreze said, “A fair amount of skilled work could be generated under MGNREGS in the form of gram rozgar sevaks, assistant engineers, field assistants, social auditors, computer operators and others. This could also include skilled work for masons and others at worksites. This will also have multiplier effects in the form of helping to increase the overall scale of MGNREGS.”
Migrant workers who returned, have already started pleading for jobs for survival. The workers said they would not go back to their workplaces if the Jharkhand government provides them employment.
Guddu Yadav, who returned from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu to Jharkhand’s Palamu district said, “I used to work in a tyre company there and earn Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 a month. We migrated to other states only to earn livelihood for family members. If I get a job here, I would not like to move out of the state,” he said.
Another migrant worker, Etoram Tudu, who returned from Kerala, said he has experience in fabrication work. “But, I am ready to work even in MGNREGS. I do not want to go outside leaving my mother alone here,” said Tudu, a resident of Gomia in Bokaro district.
Aradhana Patnaik, secretary of the Jharkhand rural development department which carried out the skill mapping said most of the workers would be accommodated in rural development schemes.
“The department has chalked out some short and long-term plans for these migrant workers. Bulk workers would be accommodated in various rural development schemes such as MGNREGS and national rural livelihood mission.”
She said work demand in MGNREGS has increased more than double in the past fortnight. “On an average, 3-3.5-lakh workers work in MGNREGS per day. However, the workers count reached 6.6-lakh on Tuesday. More than one lakh migrant workers who have completed 14-day quarantine have been engaged in MGNREGS jobs. Many skilled labourers are willing to work in MGNREGS.”
Patnaik said the mapping data would be shared with other departments including industry, urban development and information technology and they would also create job opportunities according to the skill of the workers.
However, Harishwar Dayal, a Jharkhand- based economist, said, “Providing jobs to all the migrant workers is not an easy task for the government. MGNREGS jobs are not permanent and remuneration is also very poor. Private players will have to pitch in to accommodate skilled workers.”
He expects entrepreneurs to make the most of cheap labour in Jharkhand.
“I think private players and entrepreneurs would come to Jharkhand to cash in on the opportunity, as they would get labour at a cheap price right now. Industries would also try to pick the skilled workers for their needs.”