Karnataka is on the road to creating 1 crore new jobs, but there are speed bumps ahead.

Karnataka has set itself on the path to creating one crore new jobs in the next five years. After being in the spotlight for a series of controversial issues like the banning of Muslim traders near temple premises, row over halal meat and other products, and the barring of wearing hijab, the state’s reputation did take a beating globally, say some observers

However, the state’s IT-BT, Science & Technology, Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Minister CN Ashwath Narayan told News18 the issue of loss of business or reputation is “pure figment of imagination”.

“Give me one example of a company leaving Bengaluru or announcing its exit due to these so-called ‘communal issues’. There are none. Bengaluru is and will reign supreme as the best place for companies to operate and set up shop in India,” he said.

Armed with a detailed plan, Narayan plans to engage the proposed Karnataka Research and Innovation Authority (KRIA) to help drive this mission. Along the lines of the Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) of Israel, the KRIA will be a nodal agency for strengthening the incubation ecosystem in Karnataka.

A special task force called Mission Yuva Samruddhi (also known as Karnataka Skill and Livelihood Taskforce) was set up to create a clear roadmap for the one crore jobs mission.

The task force headed by Dr S Selvakumar, additional chief secretary, department of skill development, entrepreneurship and livelihood, submitted a report to the state government and News18 has got exclusive access to the recommendations made. It suggested that the youth are in need of career guidance, training, enhancement of employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities. The number of young persons (16 to 35 years of age) requiring skilling in Karnataka projected for the period 2016 to 2030 is approximately 1.88 crore.

“These estimates are of two types: i) Those persons who are in need of skills in 2016 (called stock). ii) Fresh entrants for skill training during the period 2017 to 2030 (called flow). The total number of youth to be trained during the period 2017 to 2030 is thus 1.88 crore – both stock and flow,” the report said.

Emphasising on digital skills, the task force also recommended that the youth be trained in critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity, and social skills.

“Technology being pervasive, these skills will be required irrespective of urban or rural settings. With technology getting into all fields of work and many of the earlier manual jobs disappearing, youth have to align to the new challenges and new ways of working. Jobs or creation of enterprises will be at the level of adapting for changes and life-long learning,” the report further stated.

The state government plans to create internship opportunities for graduates in future skills with the help of several world-class companies like Infosys, Microsoft, and IBM among others through the Karnataka Digital Economy Mission (KDEM). Surveys are also being conducted by the task force to check the current level of digital skills amongst rural students.

Karnataka will set up job facilitation centres across all districts and provide skill development courses. These courses will be offered to students after the completion of their graduation and they will also be given the opportunity to apply for soft loans for their education.

Madan Padaki, co-convenor of the task force, shared crucial details of the report and the six areas which need to be emphasised to ensure skill development: (a)Digital Skills and Entrepreneurial Mindsets, (b) Career Information and Guidance (c) Youth Entrepreneurship Incubation in Colleges (d) Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at Districts and driving local jobs /services (e) Digital Services and Tech-Based Models and (f) Agri and Agri-tech.

“We (the task force) wanted to create a favourable condition for job creation on a sustainable basis. We want to address the points right from embedding the thought of being an entrepreneur or job creator at the school level itself all the way to becoming one,” Padaki said.

The challenge today is that 9 out of 10 children outside Bengaluru say they want government jobs, he said. “We realise, in the long term, in the next four to five years, we need to change that narrative. At the end of the day, whatever you do on job creation, if there are no entrepreneurs creating jobs, there will be no jobs,” Padaki said.

Interestingly, in July 2021, the Karnataka government in collaboration with Tata Technologies agreed to upgrade 150 government ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) at a cost of Rs 4,636.50 crore. It also promised to release Rs 400 crore to 1,93,000 self-help groups as part of the ‘Community Investment Fund’ under the National Rural Livelihood Campaign.

The state government signed MoUs (memorandums of understanding) with several leading companies to equip the youth with skills and also provide internships. These include collaborating with Toyota Motors to help in courses related to the automotive sector in ITIs located in the districts of Bengaluru, Ramanagara, and Tumakuru. Agreements with companies like Wipro, GE, Narayana Hrudayalaya, ESDM Cluster, and Aditya Birla Group among others have been signed to bring in expertise and training in health, IT, BT, etc.

Last Monday, the Basavaraj Bommai government approved industrial projects worth Rs 11,495 crore that are expected to provide jobs to nearly 47,000 skilled people in Karnataka. According to a statement issued by the state government, Exide Industries will set up India’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturing unit near Devanahalli.

According to a senior government official, people should not get caught in the wrong narrative.

“We are open to discussions with new investors and Bengaluru is by far the undisputed leader when it comes to being the knowledge and technology hub of the country. Interested parties should concentrate on what we are striving to do,” the official said.

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel submitted in the Rajya Sabha that Karnataka’s software exports for the year 2020-21 touched Rs 2,04,648.96 crore.

“This clearly shows that the hype about Hyderabad and Bengaluru competing with each other is just optics. Telangana’s exports stood at just Rs 71,574.19 crore,” explained a government official.