Corporates have come forward to voluntarily provide jobs to members of the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes (SC/STs) in a preemptive move to deal with the demand for job reservation in the private sector.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the apex body of Indian private companies, has chalked out a roadmap to provide job-oriented training to 50,000 people from the SC/ST category this year and arrange employment for them in different categories this year itself.
The CII has asked all member companies to take this up on a priority basis. CII will provide training to the people at different centres in India. The companies will directly recruit them and a CII team would monitor this on a continuous basis.
This is a marked change as CII has been acting as a lobbyist for the corporate sector for over 115 years. In the past five years, the focus is changing to improving the quality of life of the community as a whole. The voluntary job offer for the disadvantaged is in line with this. "This year we have decided to intensify efforts on affirmative action by our member companies, which includes providing 50,000 jobs to members of the SC/STs. The other two focus areas are skill development and corporate governance," said B. Muthuraman, president, CII.
"Affirmative action is fundamentally important. Next year more people from the SC/ST category will be employed. This is purely voluntary in nature," he added. The industry body has also asked members to increase the purchase of goods and services from SC/ST-owned enterprises by 10 to 20 per cent and help them enhance competitiveness. The Dalit Chamber of Commerce & Industry will recommend member companies in this regard. CII has also decided to double the number of scholarships to 1,000 for SC/ST students this year.
Dalit leaders have been pushing for a job quota in the private sector on the lines of government jobs and even the prime minister has mentioned this to the discomfort of the private sector.
Former commerce minister Kamal Nath had also asked corporates to take voluntary action on this front, failing which the Centre would bring out legislation to make job quotas possible. It is perhaps after this that the industry has been taking steps to prevent any forced measure.
Meanwhile, for the benefit of the other sections of society, industry plans to set up 30 skill centres at district levels to train youth for jobs. Training in services-related jobs, apart from manufacturing, would also be provided.
This is to further strengthen CII's maiden Skill Development Hub in Chhindwara, MP. Four more such hubs would be set up in four regions of the country. It is estimated that 10 million people would join the workforce every year and it is the responsibility of the industry to enhance their productivity and improve their skills.