Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXIV No. 6, July 1-15, 2024

A severe skill/requirement/attitude mismatch? The Govt. seems to be having an HR problem on its hands

-- by Sriram V.

Headlines of the last few weeks seem to indicate that there is a severe manpower issue as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned. On the one hand there is a shortage of people, skilled and otherwise. And on the other we seem to have wasted resources who could be more gainfully employed. We allude to the delay in execution of the Chennai Metrorail Project which has been attributed to lack of availability of labour and also to the hooch tragedy which has sadly claimed many lives. It may not be correct to see a pattern or link between two seemingly diverse events but we have at the same time a huge project held up due to lack of people and we also have an enormous tragedy because people went to seek bliss from a fatal temptation.

CMRL has recently admitted that it faced an enormous labour crisis due to the elections. While its second phase needed 25,000 people, it was managing with half that strength with much of the workforce having gone back to its places of origin to exercise its franchise. The statement also has it that while people are trickling back, the present numbers are nowhere near what is required. Though CMRL does not state this explicitly, it seems implied that much of the labour comes from outside Tamil Nadu. The question then arises as to what has happened within the State to its indigenous labour force.

Of course, we have seen a contraction in the past decade or so, when it comes to Tamil Nadu’s supply of people to what can be euphemistically termed support services. It began with Chennai and then gradually spread across the rest of the State – we have been increasingly relying on migrant labour. There are two schools of thought when it comes to explaining what has happened to the local workforce. There is the negative school of thought, often identical with the elitist which opines that those who ought to be working have stopped doing so, given the freebie culture that each political regime only increases. This, combined with Tamil Nadu’s drink problem – the State admittedly has one – they say has ruinedthe workforce for good. The other school of thought has it that with increased literacy, access to better healthcare, and welfare schemes, the State’s workforce has moved up the value chain. This combined with a flattening population curve they say, is the prime reason why we don’t have locals queuing up for jobs.

Both seem plausible. While we are definitely one of the more prosperous States, there does seem to be a huge unfulfilled demand in services which locals, even those needing jobs urgently, seem to be shying away from. Even the uncertain world of the gig economy seems preferrable to the jobs that are on offer in the less glamorous avenues in the service sector. And then there are huge skill disparities. Should the State not be addressing this?

The latest happening, namely the hooch tragedy throws up a disturbing question. As many as 56 people dead and scores injured owing to the hell brew. And they were all in the wage-earning bracket when it comes to age. Does this not go to reinforce the argument that a populace that ought to be working is wasting itself? We had mentioned earlier that the State has a drinking problem.

A study in 2015 revealed that there were more than one crore alcoholics (those who consumed it everyday) in the lower wage-earning sections of society in the State. The numbers may have only gone up since then. Will the Government wake up to its responsibility of weaning people away to more responsible and constructive activities? And may be add to the skilled workforce?

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  1. Rangarajan. S.v. says:

    அருமையான பதிவு. மக்களின் மனதில் நாம் வசிக்கும் இடம் நன்றாக இருக்க வேண்டும் என்ற எண்ணம் வேண்டும். பாழாய்ப் போன கள்ளச்சாராயத்தை மக்கள் எப்படி அடிமையானர்கள்.

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