The scare of job losses is affecting people across sectors. With limited resources and rising global population, the debate has to be centred around the efficient utilisation of these while providing employment opportunities and quality life. The 2018 annual conference of the Indian National Association for the Club of Rome focuses on this aspect. Former TCS vice-chairman S Ramadorai who is chairman of Club of Rome-India, speaks to FE’s Shubhra Tandon on the future job market.
We are talking about efficiencies and sustainability, but given the kind of job losses numbers we read and hear in textiles, telecom, manufacturing, etc, what is your sense of how will all these play out?
There are a lot of adjacency. For example, if you take textiles, the whole question is how do textiles and technology come together? With the design capability through the iPad, a designer in any part of the world can specify the design and visualise it completely, instead of physically doing anything. So, what a weaver could do in about three months can now be done in one or two days and produced with best of silk or hand loom. Their children too get involved with technology-based intervention into weaving. Then they can also migrate to other sectors because technology and design are picked up by them. What stops them from doing an interior design or become an architect or becoming temple builders or restoring temples? The same is true with agriculture too, where technology is helping farmers to match output with demand and aiding sustainable agriculture. So, there might be job losses, but there is a number of MSMEs we can create with the world class quality and automatically the demand will be more.
What about people who have been in the same industry for 10-12 years or may be more? When they make the move to another industry it is not necessary that they will get to do things where they specialise.
Today a 30-35-year-old individual cannot assume she/he is going to do the same thing for the next 20 years. One has to look for opportunities to learn new things. One needs to keep the intellectual capacity very active and then keep shifting.
What about remuneration?
Not every issue has to be judged by revenue or remuneration. Whatever job you want to define for yourself, so long you know how to market it, you have an opportunity. Nobody is going to say this job means you are going to get more money. You can disrupt anybody’s job by a different thinking. Also, one of the things of sustainability is that the disparity between the wealthiest guy and the downtrodden is so terrible now that if 7% of India’s population grabs 85% of all consumption or money, this is not an equitable society. The thing we are trying to address is how we are going to bring in equilibrium. It is going to take time, but I think younger people can adapt to this and should be able to shift gears faster.
What is the role of MSMEs in job creation? With credit offtake by the segment all but stopped, how do you look at gainful employment there?
These are cycles. There is going to be distress, then there will be plenty, there will be sustained effort to create employment and then there will be underemployment. However, delivery of jobs has become easy through technology. You do not have to be physically in that location. If you are part of an MSME, you can do the work in your small area or district and supply it so long the road infrastructure and logistics are good.
MSME and entrepreneurs are the engines of growth and their role is the most important. Supply chain of MSMEs is going to be the critical component of our growth.
What do you think are jobs of the future that youth should train themselves in?
Anything to do with sustainability will be important. Affordable medicine is going to be a great revelation, affordable devices for affordable healthcare will be in great demand. Similarly, in agriculture, sustainable agriculture, nutrition and organic farming will be the key.