Union Budget 2023 for jobs: Sustainable employment & entrepreneurship key to India’s growth story
Sustainable employment generation and micro-entrepreneurship are crucial for driving India’s economic growth and development. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, providing opportunities for self-employment and creating jobs is essential for promoting inclusive economic growth. The unemployment rate as on 19 December 2022, based on The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s (CMIE) data, stood at 9% on a 30-day moving average basis. Despite India’s healthy economic growth, the impending impact of a global slowdown will have a bearing on the overall unemployment situation in the country. A well-timed and targeted policy intervention, adequately addressed in the Budget 2023, is required to address the issue.
The Hon’ble Finance Minister, in the pre-budget meeting, touched upon the impending concern of growing unemployment. The Union Budget 2023-24 is around the corner and offers an excellent opportunity to introduce measures to focus on sustainable employment generation, self-employment, and micro-entrepreneurship to revive the job market.
Self-employment & micro-entrepreneurship can create direct and indirect employment opportunities with a multiplier effect. It will generate income and build assets, leading to overall economic development. According to the 2020-21 Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 55.6% of India’s workers were self-employed. This data substantiates the need to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.
Here are some measures that the government can look at to combat unemployment in the upcoming Union Budget.
National scheme for entrepreneurship focusing on micro-entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurship plays a critical role in the economic development of a nation. It builds a pool of entrepreneurs who provide employment opportunities to others, creating a ripple effect. Micro-entrepreneurship, defined as small-scale business ownership, plays a critical role in driving economic growth and development at the grassroots level. These small businesses provide employment opportunities and contribute to the development of local economies. Micro-entrepreneurship also provides a path to self-sufficiency and financial independence for individuals and families. Though India boasts a dynamic start-up ecosystem, making an enabling policy ecosystem for micro-entrepreneurs to thrive, is essential.
To augment micro-entrepreneurship, we need to nurture talent. A national program fostering entrepreneurship can be a stepping-stone in this direction. The program should be inclusive, providing end-to-end solutions for budding and existing micro-entrepreneurs, focussing on skill development, providing mentorship and handholding support, and linkage to credit and markets places. A targeted program for this beneficiary community that has limited access to a developmental ecosystem, will benefit immensely by leveraging existing schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY).
Digital content and deployment: Creating digital content and deploying it for skill development demands investment. The efforts toward creating and making digital content available has been sporadic and varies across sectors, trades and roles. We need to scale up digital content creation at a fast pace while standardizing it across industries. Instead of reinventing the wheel, there is great merit in adapting and consolidating the existing content for speedier deployment. Along with curated and new content across sectors, we must build easily accessible learning platforms to democratize skilling and take away the burden off the physical training model.
Additionally, making available digital content for blue-collared workers and micro-entrepreneurs is a cost-effective and scalable way of providing them with access to valuable resources. Online training and certification programs, managing small businesses and micro-entrepreneurship resources, industry/trade specific content, and e-guides for leveraging digital marketplaces and platforms, can support these individuals to improve their skills, increase their productivity and grow their businesses, ultimately leading to sustainable employment and economic growth.
Specific training program for new-age skills: Matching skilled trainees to relevant jobs in the industry 4.0 market is critical. With the employment landscape evolving quickly, bringing in fundamental changes to the skilling system are necessary. Tech-based training modules will take precedence, and skilling programs on new technologies like cloud computing, analytics, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and robotics will have to be designed to develop a smart workforce for smart workplaces. Moreover, with the gig economy, automatic supply chains, and drone sector gaining popularity amongst the youth, we need to upgrade our learning modules. Today’s youth is well aware of the market trends and demands no less than the best training for better outcomes. These changes will have a wide-ranging impact across sectors and the profile of employees.
Several corporates have set up foundations and invested in skill training of unskilled, semi-skilled and underprivileged individuals in urban and rural India. They are providing access to technical and non-technical courses to aspiring job seekers, opening new employment opportunities for them. However, more such initiatives and programs are needed, across sectors and cover the blue-collared workforce, to complement the existing “Skill India Mission.”
The road ahead
With a great demographic dividend and a growing economy, India is much better positioned than most other countries. We need to fund a specific charter that will equip the workforce with the right skill sets and enable an ecosystem to promote micro-entrepreneurship. Creating a workforce with market-relevant skills and empowering them to create micro-enterprises towards becoming job providers, will enable the next phase of the India growth story.
(Veenu Jaichand is Partner – Government and Public Sector, EY India.Views expressed are personal)

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