With govt vacancies open for all, Exchange banks on private sector for jobs

Challenges faced by Employment Exchange

A staff at the Employment Exchange office guides job seekers to fill the registration forms. Pic: Akshatha M

With gradual decline in the number of job seekers approaching Bengaluru’s Employment Exchange offices in last two decades, these units which function under the State government’s Directorate of Employment Exchange and Training have started losing the significance that they once enjoyed.

Sanath Kumar, Employment Officer at school dropout section in the Bengaluru’s Employment Exchange office recalls the days when the number of job seekers per day in the capital city used to be anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500. That was the kind of registration spree taking place in late 90’s.

School drop out section’s live register then used to have 1.5 lakh candidates at any given point of time. It has now come down to on an average 4,000. “In those days, each section was located in different parts of Bengaluru. And all of them were buzzing with candidates willing to register with Employment Exchanges. There were long queues,” he remembers.

Now, the officers in the Bengaluru’s Employment Exchange unit claim the cumulative number of candidates registered in all five branches per day is anywhere between 100 and 150. But this statistics too seems to be overstated.

Filled up registration forms in an Employment Exchange. Pic: Akshatha M

The data from the head office – the Directorate of Employment Exchange and Training – reveals that the total number of registration in all five branches of Bengaluru’s Exchange office in last July was just 1,108. The total registration to have taken place from April 2016 to March 2017 is 12,705. So on an average the monthly registration is 1,058 and daily registration is 35. From 1,500 registration per day in 90’s to 35 registration now, the decline in the popularity of Employment Exchanges is beyond any doubt.

Why did Employment Exchange lose its significance?

Multiple factors have contributed to the diminishing popularity of Employment Exchanges. The school dropouts’ office used to have highest registration at one point, and has seen a steep decline in the registration ever since SSLC was made as minimum qualification to apply for the government jobs.

“Earlier a lot of them used to register with us because they all prefered government jobs. Recruitment for jobs like house keeping, sweepers, cook, kitchen assistant, help, security in government guest houses, offices and government residences used to happen through us, says Sanath Kumar.

According to him there are two reasons for reduced number of registrations in school drop out section. First, a Central government rule in 2001 made it mandatory to have SSLC as minimum qualification to apply for the government jobs. In Karnataka, the State government allowed the school dropouts to apply for State government jobs till last year, but now SSLC has been made the minimum qualification for State government jobs. Due to this, the number of applicants has significantly reduced.

Second, there aren’t many vacancies in government sector. The number of government jobs has reduced, due to outsourcing of workforce. Group D workers are hired on contract basis.

Number of registrations at Bengaluru’s five Employment Exchange branches

Name of Employment Exchanges

July 2017

Registration

July 2017

Live Register

April 2016-March 2017

Registration

April 2016-March 2017 Live Register

SREE, Bengaluru (10th to degree)

620

54,042

5,911

53,985

DEE (G), Bengaluru (school dropouts)

42

3,326

286

3,818

DEE (T), Bengaluru (Technical training)

249

17,205

2,425

17,248

Special Employment Exchange, Bengaluru

14

4,579

180

4,519

Prof & Exec Employment Exchange, Bengaluru

183

8,050

3,903

8,716

 

One of the major factors that changed the fate of Employment Exchanges way back in 90’s is the Supreme Court order that made it mandatory for the Central government to notify the job availability/recruitment process through newspaper advertisements.

“It changed the entire scenario for job seekers. Interviews became open for all. Anybody could apply for the job without employment registration numbers, unlike before,” Sanath Kumar, Employment Officer at school dropout section in the Bengaluru’s Employment Exchange office, says.

Srinivasa K says that not just the Central government jobs, but even the State government undertakings do not ask for employment registration numbers anymore. “Government jobs are open for all now. Introduction of competitive exams, government recruitments happening through recruitment boards etc has devalued the seniority process that we used to follow in allocating jobs,” he remarks.

The reason why people still register

Despite this, youngsters continue to register with Employment Exchanges. The live register for Bengaluru for July 2017 shows the number of registered candidates is 87,202 (all five branches). It implies, despite the shrinking importance of Employment Exchanges, there is still sizeable population that to some extent relies on Employment Exchange.

Some employment related info displayed on the walls. Pic: Akshatha M

What kind of services and help do the Employment Exchange offices provide to those who have registered with them in the recent past? Why do some youth continue to avail the services of Exchanges?

Govinde Gowda, Joint Director of Employment Exchange says the Employment Exchanges help candidates to get jobs in private sector. “We have slowly moved from facilitating government jobs to that of private jobs. We provide a platform and act as a bridge between the candidates and companies,” he says.

When he says acting as a bridge, he implies, the Employment Exchange offices share the registered candidates’ data with the private companies for free. “Later the companies will directly contact the candidates and work on hiring them if they fit into the job profile.”

When asked various officers if they could share the data of jobs provided in private companies, they said it is not quite possible to get the figures as often the companies do not give feedback on recruitments. “We do not know if a candidate has been hired or not, after we share the data. Though we always insist that the companies inform us about the number of candidates who have been hired and give us the feedback and reasons for not hiring certain candidates, they do not budge to our request,” the officer says.

This apart, a few public sector undertakings continue to recruit through Employment Exchanges. Assistant Director Srinivasa K says organisations like HAL, ISRO, BHEL, BEL, NIMHANS and defence sector ask for employment registration numbers while hiring Group C and D level employees. That is one of the reasons why youth eyeing on these government jobs get employment registration numbers from Employment Exchanges.

With the challenge of keeping the dying employment bureau alive and make it relevant, a few measures were and are being taken by the respective governments. But why has it not really helped in the revival of Employment Exchanges? Will the government’s latest initiative of skill development programmes help? Read about it in the last story of the series.

Akshatha M
About Akshatha M 220 Articles
Akshatha M was a Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters. She tweets at @akshata1.

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