From communication to finance to manufacturing to social interaction, the use of digital technology is ubiquitous. The adoption of digital technology has improved labour productivity and made life easier.(Bloomberg)
From communication to finance to manufacturing to social interaction, the use of digital technology is ubiquitous. The adoption of digital technology has improved labour productivity and made life easier.(Bloomberg)

The missing link in the job debate

Despite visible gains, the ongoing digital revolution is being perceived as a major challenge for labour and has ignited a passionate debate on the future of jobs worldwide.
By Pankaj Vashisht and Jay Dev Dubey
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2019 10:16 AM IST

The world has been going through a digital revolution. Starting in the early 1970s, digital technology has invaded all aspects of human life. From communication to finance to manufacturing to social interaction, the use of digital technology is ubiquitous. The adoption of digital technology has improved labour productivity and made life easier. Despite these visible gains, the ongoing digital revolution is being perceived as a major challenge for labour and has ignited a passionate debate on the future of jobs worldwide. India too has been witnessing an intense debate on jobs over the last few years and with general elections approaching, the debate has become more heated. Yet, the jobs debate in India has been lopsided, with the focus being exclusively on the number of jobs generated, with no consideration given to the changing nature of jobs. It is now widely documented that the ongoing technological progress has been steadily redefining labour/skill demand by de-routinising jobs. Evidence shows that the uses of computer-enabled machines has reduced labour demand for routine tasks while simultaneously increasing demand for non-routine tasks. These changes have serious implications for skilling and re-skilling labour.

Combining the O-Net and the National Sample Survey Office Employment Unemployment Survey data, we examine the changing nature of jobs in India by calculating the five main task content measures – non-routine cognitive analytical (NRCA), non-routine cognitive interactive (NCRI), routine cognitive (RC), routine manual (RM), and non-routine manual (NRM).

The results show that India, by and large, has been following the global trend as non-routine cognitive task intensity of jobs have increased. In contrast, manual task content, both routine as well as non-routine, has declined sharply. Our results further show that RC task intensity of Indian jobs has not declined. In fact, the RC task intensity of Indian jobs has increased between 1983-84 and 2011-12. However, most of the observed increase in RC task intensity took place before 1998-99. Since 1998-99, the RC task intensity has mostly been constant. A sectoral analysis suggests that RC task content has been surviving because of the services and agriculture sectors, both of which have witnessed an increase in RC task intensity. However, there has been a complete de-routinisation of jobs in the manufacturing sector after 1998. It perhaps shows that the Indian manufacturing sector has gone for rapid automation since 1998 when 100% foreign direct investment was allowed in most manufacturing industries.

Figure 1. Trends in task content of jobs in India

 

The changing task content of jobs in India has significant implications for education and skilling. While the demand for cognitive skills has increased, the supply of these skills seems to be lagging behind. The latest Talent Shortage Survey corroborates this and shows that 56% of employers in India face difficulties in filling job vacancies due to skill and talent shortage. If not addressed urgently, skill shortage can be fatal for economic growth.

The government of India has realised the growing role of skills and therefore has started an ambitious skilling programme under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). With this scheme, it aims to provide soft skills and other industry-relevant skills to 10 million young people. The government has also notified the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme to provide apprenticeship training to 5 million young by 2019-20. Although these are steps in the right direction, they are not directed towards cognitive skills formation and hence, cannot be a substitute for good-quality formal education.

The government had to introduce the short-term skilling programme because the formal education system in India has failed at all levels. Employers in India frequently argue that young people, even with graduate degrees, are not employable. Since the demand for cognitive skills is expected to increase further in the years to come, the government should focus more on the quality of education, particularly schooling, to address the issue of growing skill shortages. Focus on school education is also required to avoid the adverse distributional consequences of technology inducing changes in the task content of jobs. India has a very inefficient and dualistic education system. It has some very good private schools where the quality of education is comparable to global standards. However, access to these schools is primarily restricted to the economically well-off section of society. In contrast, a large section of Indian society still relies on government schools for the education of their children.

 

It is widely documented that government-run schools are in disarray and fail miserably to impart basic reading and computational skills to their students. A recent survey by the Delhi government’s Directorate of Education shows that 74% of grade 6 students in Delhi government-run schools cannot read a paragraph in Hindi, the native language, while 67% of students cannot perform simple 3 digits by one digit division. Given this stark difference in the quality of education between government and private schools, the changing nature of jobs can further exacerbate the existing economic inequality. India faces an urgent need to fix government-run schools.

(A longer version of this article is available on ideasforindia.in)

Pankaj Vashisht is a senior fellow at ICRIER and Jay Dev Dubey is a research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
"Is there any estimate of how much gold has been smuggled since he (V Muraleedharan) became a minister?” Pinarayi Vijayan asked.(HT File Photo)
"Is there any estimate of how much gold has been smuggled since he (V Muraleedharan) became a minister?” Pinarayi Vijayan asked.(HT File Photo)

Kerala CM slams union minister amid calls for resignation over smuggling case

PTI, Thiruvananthapuram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 01:29 AM IST
Vijayan claimed that Muraleedharan, on multiple occasions, said the baggage seized by the Customs was not a diplomatic one.
Close
Marimuthu Yoganathan is a bus conductor in the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation by profession.(Tweeted by ANI)
Marimuthu Yoganathan is a bus conductor in the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation by profession.(Tweeted by ANI)

Tamil Nadu bus conductor who planted 3 lakh saplings in 30 years wins praise

ANI, Chennai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 01:23 AM IST
A known eco activist, Marimuthu Yoganathan has been awarded "Eco Warrior" award by Vice-President of India, 'Unsung Hero' award by wildlife film-maker Mike Pandey and film actor John Abraham in "Timberland" function held in Delhi.
Close
Elections to the 126 assembly constituencies in Assam will be held in three phases. In picture - Congress Party supporters in a rally in Tezpur.(PTI)
Elections to the 126 assembly constituencies in Assam will be held in three phases. In picture - Congress Party supporters in a rally in Tezpur.(PTI)

Congress releases first list for Assam after ‘rumblings’ in unit

By Utpal Parashar, Guwahati
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 01:13 AM IST
Congress’ state unit chief Ripun Bora to contest from Gohpur constituency.
Close
Trivedi is the latest in the list of TMC leaders, including political heavyweight and minister Suvendu Adhikari and state minister Rajib Banerjee, who switched over to the BJP.(HT Photo)
Trivedi is the latest in the list of TMC leaders, including political heavyweight and minister Suvendu Adhikari and state minister Rajib Banerjee, who switched over to the BJP.(HT Photo)

‘Golden moment’: TMC ex-MP Trivedi joins BJP

By Smriti Kak Ramachandran, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 12:59 AM IST
Describing his entry into the BJP as a “golden moment”, the 70-year-old took a veiled dig at his former party.
Close
After the Chamoli tragedy, the state government has announced many steps with regard to disaster mitigation in the state. In picture - Border Roads Organisation (BRO) building a valley bridge over the Rishi Ganga River.(PTI)
After the Chamoli tragedy, the state government has announced many steps with regard to disaster mitigation in the state. In picture - Border Roads Organisation (BRO) building a valley bridge over the Rishi Ganga River.(PTI)

A month on, questions remain over cause of Chamoli disaster

By Neeraj Santoshi, Dehradun
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 12:52 AM IST
While several studies say that the tragedy was man-made, a DRDO body rejected human activity as the immediate cause
Close
The court of chief judicial magistrate AN Dave acquitted 122 persons arrested for being members of the banned outfit SIMI, giving them the benefit of doubt.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The court of chief judicial magistrate AN Dave acquitted 122 persons arrested for being members of the banned outfit SIMI, giving them the benefit of doubt.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

20 years on, court acquits 122 people accused of SIMI links

PTI, Surat
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 12:41 AM IST
The accused were held in 2001 under UAPA for allegedly being SIMI members and organising a meeting.
Close
The finance department has written that as per rules, the withdrawal from treasury has to be done only up to the extent required for direct payment to vendor/contractor/payee in their respective bank accounts and under no circumstances the money should go the bank accounts of subordinate officials. (REUTERS PHOTO).
The finance department has written that as per rules, the withdrawal from treasury has to be done only up to the extent required for direct payment to vendor/contractor/payee in their respective bank accounts and under no circumstances the money should go the bank accounts of subordinate officials. (REUTERS PHOTO).

Bihar finance dept sounds alert against attempts of irregular fund withdrawal

PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 12:18 AM IST
  • The finance department has written to the top brass of various departments, offices and administration to ensure strict compliance to the finance and treasury rules for maintaining fiscal discipline.
Close
Dharmendra Pradhan, who recently donated <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>1 lakh to the Jagannath Temple, requested the Gajapati to act like a bridge between the Centre and state for smooth operation of the fund collection drive. (HT FILE PHOTO).
Dharmendra Pradhan, who recently donated 1 lakh to the Jagannath Temple, requested the Gajapati to act like a bridge between the Centre and state for smooth operation of the fund collection drive. (HT FILE PHOTO).

Union minister proposes collection drive for beautification of Jagannath Temple

By Debabrata Mohanty
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:59 PM IST
  • In a letter to Puri king Gajapati Dibya Singha Deb, Union minister for petroleum and natural gas, Dharmendra Pradhan urged him to launch a mass fund collection drive to enable contribution by crores of devotees of Lord Jagannath for the development of the Jagannath Temple heritage corridor.
Close
In the second phase of the vaccination drive, 3,005,039 people over 60 years of age and 460,782 between 45 and 59 years with comorbidities have received their first dose of the vaccine.(Reuters)
In the second phase of the vaccination drive, 3,005,039 people over 60 years of age and 460,782 between 45 and 59 years with comorbidities have received their first dose of the vaccine.(Reuters)

Cumulative Covid-19 vaccinations cross 20-million mark: Government

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Srivatsan K C, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:35 PM IST
India has administered 20,662,073 doses of the vaccine so far of which 6,972,859 healthcare workers have received the first dose and 3,522,671 have got the second dose.
Close
Anurag Thakur said the government welcomes innovation and new technology, but with caution, so that citizens get due protection and national security is ensured.(ANI)
Anurag Thakur said the government welcomes innovation and new technology, but with caution, so that citizens get due protection and national security is ensured.(ANI)

Issue of national security key as govt decides on cryptocurrency, says Thakur

By Rajeev Jayaswal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 01:49 AM IST
  • Cryptocurrency is, however, not legally banned and the government is in the process of enacting a law on this matter.
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits a stall at an exhibition during the Combined Commanders Conference in Kevadia on Saturday. (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits a stall at an exhibition during the Combined Commanders Conference in Kevadia on Saturday. (ANI)

Need to develop military into ‘future force’: PM Modi at top commanders’ meet

UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:17 PM IST
  • The PM asked the three services to rid themselves of legacy systems and practices that are no longer relevant.
Close
The desk would provide support to file cases in offences related to violence or discrimination.(PTI File Photo )
The desk would provide support to file cases in offences related to violence or discrimination.(PTI File Photo )

Transgender help desk set up at police station in Hyderabad

PTI, Hyderabad
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:09 PM IST
Noting that the idea of the help desk came from the community itself during a meeting 10 days back, police said the entire credit for the initiative must go to the community.
Close
On the basis of the young man's interrogation, the police also arrested his accomplice Vishnu Bishnoi (23) and recovered the illegal pistol from his possession. (GETTY IMAGES) (Image used for representation).
On the basis of the young man's interrogation, the police also arrested his accomplice Vishnu Bishnoi (23) and recovered the illegal pistol from his possession. (GETTY IMAGES) (Image used for representation).

In Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district, 2 arrested for brandishing gun at wedding

PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 11:07 PM IST
  • According to the police, some young men were dancing at the DJ night in a wedding ceremony, during which one of the accused pointed the pistol at the forehead of another youth.
Close
Farmers sitting near their tractor as they take part in a road blockade to mark the 100th day of the protest against the new farm laws on a highway near Kundli Border on Saturday. (ANI Photo)
Farmers sitting near their tractor as they take part in a road blockade to mark the 100th day of the protest against the new farm laws on a highway near Kundli Border on Saturday. (ANI Photo)

As farmers protest completes 100 days, Cong says ‘100 days of BJP's arrogance’

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:45 PM IST
Farmer leaders have made it clear that they would not settle for anything less than a repeal of the new agriculture laws.
Close
Entry into the courtroom for the physical hearing will require lawyers to make “special hearing passes” to be issued by the SC Registry. (HT PHOTO).
Entry into the courtroom for the physical hearing will require lawyers to make “special hearing passes” to be issued by the SC Registry. (HT PHOTO).

Supreme Court to begin limited physical hearing on trial basis from March 15

By Abraham Thomas
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 10:25 PM IST
  • In January this year, Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde ruled out any reopening of courts for the present.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP