A government-sponsored job fair for the educated youth of Goa held on Friday at Soccoro turned out to be an eye opener. Around 50 companies participated in and over 3,000 educated youth turned out at the fair. The companies from six different sectors, including hospitality, retail, automobile, IT, pharmaceutical and real estate, were there to shortlist candidates for both blue-collar and white-collar jobs.
The jobseekers in the fair hailed from different educational backgrounds, like commerce, management engineering, technical and other professional courses. The fair was aimed at providing a platform for the Goan youth to get employment at ‘home’. The government-sponsored recruitment process came in wake of a similar fair held recently at Sawantwadi in neighbouring Maharashtra in which several Goa-based companies participated, creating a negative impression that these companies were hiring hands from other states and not Goa. Though the Soccoro fair could be described as a success as a large number of recruiters and youth seeking jobs participated in it, it did not yield the desired results. The industry captains claimed that they did not find adequately ‘qualified’ candidates for the jobs, and many youth were disappointed by the ‘low’ salaries being offered to them and did not show keenness in taking up the jobs.
Most of the jobs on offer were in sales, marketing, front office, customer service and technicians (ITI) which did not attract the job seekers. The job aspirants claimed that they would have to spend a major portion of their average salary of Rs 10,000 per month on travelling between their homes and offices and food and other expenses. Even IT graduates were offered a salary of Rs 15,000 or so per month for jobs in the state, whereas the same posts in Pune and Bengaluru command a salary of Rs 30,000 –plus. One company official claimed that they were scouting for experienced candidates for posts of software developers but only fresh graduates applied for these posts for which a package of Rs 1.5 lakh per annum was offered as stipend.
The company expected these IT professionals to prove their worth and qualify for incentives in the days ahead. The great mismatch between the salaries offered to IT professionals in the state and those outside is intriguing. Does it mean that Goans who work in their own state are less competent, though they have done the same courses and are equally qualified?
The state government has been promising to make the youth passing out from educational institutions employable by providing them required training to man the jobs but little has been done on the ground to put it into action. Labour and Employment Minister Rohan Khaunte urged the state industry to train Goan students to make them employment-ready. Khaunte said that the industries as part of corporate social responsibility could train freshers in the skills they seek. This could help the youth acquire necessary skills to take up jobs. However, at the same time, the government needs to ensure that the recruits are adequately paid for their services.
The salaries that were offered to most of the youth at the Soccoro job fair was equivalent of minimum wages fixed by the government for unskilled labour, who as per the latest government notified rates are to be paid minimum wages of Rs 327 per day, which works out to Rs 9,810 per month. The salary of Rs 10,000 is less than the prescribed daily wages of Rs 481 for graduates working as clerks and Rs 439 for others.
The government should direct the companies to pay respectable and attractive salaries to ensure Goans take up jobs. Khaunte appears to have taken serious note of Goans being compelled to leave the state for taking up jobs owing to the lower salaries offered in comparative jobs by the private sector. He wants the industry to introspect on what they can give back more than the taxes they pay to the state and expects that the industry can do it by employing Goans.
If the fresh graduates and diploma holders get jobs with respectable salaries in their home state, the flight out of state and the influx of workers from other states would stop. The employers of course have the right to look for the best candidates. The employment of Goans must be done on merit and like charity or under the pressure of a politician. Perhaps when the government or the private sector holds another job fair in Goa, the salary-candidate mismatch would be given equal importance to the job-skill match. Then only we can reach the optimal balance on the local:outsider ratio in private sector employment.