justjobs banner.jpg

India’s Jobs Challenge: Wages, Productivity and Notions of Informality

in collaboration with JustJobs Network

12:30 PM -2:30 PM, 17th December

(Invitation Only)

Chair: Sabina Dewan, Partha Mukhopadhyay

India is a complex nation mired in co-existent contrasts. While it is strengthened by geographic, linguistic and resource diversity, it is still challenged by social divisions on the basis of caste, gender and religion. It has smart cities and technological hubs alongside sprawling city slums and urban labour markets that span basic manual labour to high-end finance and technology. It delivers high levels of economic growth juxtaposed with high numbers struggling to secure basic livelihoods.

Making good jobs available on the mammoth scale that India requires is one of the country’s biggest challenges.  This challenge is compounded by forces such as technological advancement – the onset of Industry 4.0, migration flows, demographic shifts, gender imbalances,trade restructuring, climate change and rapid urbanisation,all of which pose new threats and opportunities for the country’s labour markets.

How can India create enough good jobs, including good self-employment options,for its growing population? What investments in human capital will help create a workforce to match the needs of the rapidly changing 21st-century Indian economy?

For a long time, a good job was wage employment linked to social protection benefits such as health insurance and provident fund. Yet, as technology and other forces upend employment models, introducing greater job uncertainty, changing employment relationships, and rising self-employment,do these definitions of formality and employment need to change?  If one of the defining characteristics of informal employment is the absence of social protection, how do our notions adapt in a world where social protection is delinked from employment? Can we really distinguish self-employment and employment in the platform economy?How do we think about improving earnings, productivity and working conditions, and the differential experiences of female and male workers, in this context of a rapidly changing labour market?

This roundtable, co-hosted by Centre for Policy Research and Just Jobs Network, as part of their new “Jobs Initiative” will engage with these questions to understand how we can create more good jobs in the face of shifting notions of formality.

It will bring together industry leaders, academics, policymakers, labour activists and civil society actors to identify the questions that need urgent answers. The discussion will help distil areas that can benefit from further research and it will highlight possible solutions that need to be introduced into the public discourse more robustly. Through this and future discussions, the Jobs Initiative hopes to engage with a range of actors to generate new, innovative and fresh ideas to help address the nation’s jobs crisis.