The participation of a number of Goa-based private companies in a job fair in Sawantwadi, Maharashtra a few days ago to recruit workers has raised concern in the state, forcing the state government to order a probe into it. Recruitments from outside the state by Goa-based companies took place at a time when thousands of people have been rendered jobless due to shutdown of mining. Though private companies operating in the state are expected to provide 80 per cent jobs to Goans, most often the claims of the Goan youth are ignored by them on one ground or another, the most common being that the skills the employers are looking for are not available among Goan aspirants. The best way to find out about the availability or unavailability of the skills the companies need is to advertise in Goa’s newspapers and seek applications through the Employment Exchange. The companies are also expected to seek a no objection certificate from the state government in case they do not get candidates with the needed skills and have to recruit applicants from outside the state. These are the things the inquiry by the labour commissioner ordered by Labour and Employment Minister Rohan Khaunte is going to ascertain.
It is not that the job fair in which over 650 vacancies were announced was organized overnight. The job openings were for lower skills in engineering, commerce, accounts, sales, security and so on. Goans might not prefer jobs of security men; however, it cannot be that there are no skills available in Goa in accounts, nursing, sales or reception. Why were the companies not able to find the right candidates in the state? It is common for them to prefer candidates from other states as they are willing to work at lower salaries, accept contractual employment, work in shifts, put in long hours and not ask for long leaves during festivals – ‘qualities’ that they find lacking in Goan workers. Goans prefer fixed work timings and long leaves and holidays. These are reasons why the Goan youth are dying to get government jobs. At the same time, it is true that the companies operating in the state have a very large number of Goans in their workforce. That shows that Goans are willing to work according to the requirements and guidelines of the companies and they are getting salaries that are acceptable to them, even though they might not be of the level they would want them to be.
Some of the companies that participated in the job fair said it was a “routine exercise” for them to recruit workers from outside. Now, there is no law by which a state government can force a private company operating in the state to employ only people from the state. That is why, even though successive state governments have promised to make 80 per cent jobs in the private sector available to Goans, they have not been able to implement it. They have tried soft means, like urging the companies to employ Goans or sometimes even linking some government approval to it; but it has been left largely to the discretion of the companies. The companies too have advantages in recruiting local workers: they do not have to worry about or pay for their housing or accommodation, or the workers going to their far-off native places and not returning. The companies also earn goodwill of the people of the state if they have a large number of local workers.
As lack of skills is often cited as a key reason for private companies to make recruitments from outside, they could earn a Goan-friendly image by notifying the government in advance of their requirements in the future. It should then become the responsibility of the labour and employment department to find the youth with the required skills or to train local youth in those skills. The government of India and the state government have their own skilling programmes, apart from the industrial training institutes and institutes for specific training such as nursing. The state employment exchange has over 1.20 lakh Goans on its live register. On an average 18,000 youth register every year with the employment exchange. Around 20 per cent of the youth on the live register of the employment exchange get employed every year. The government still continues to be the largest employer with 90 per cent of those employed every year finding employment with them. The employment of Goans in the private sector has been dropping every year. The government needs to step in and increase the private sector share in employment. The government needs to make the companies pay better wages and offer better terms with regard to bonus, leave, duty hours and transportation in order to achieve the objective.