ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Social Networks, Job Search Flexibility, Employability, and Mobility of Migrant Workers

This paper examines the job-seeking behaviour, various traits of labour employability, and the nature of mobility to achieve employment aspirations of the North East migrant workers in Bengaluru. It shows that migrants extensively use social networks for finding employment. The use of social networks and flexibility in job search shortens the waiting period. Their skill levels and the major factors that influence their hiring are discussed in detail.

The labour market information imperfection and job information asymmetry have rendered many jobseekers dependent on social networks. Social networks, which are a rich resource, are widely used to collect employment information on available avenues, remuneration and working conditions by jobseekers to find a job (Davern 1999; Livingston 2006). Both migrants and non-migrants have the potential to use social networks for obtaining a job. The North East migrant workers were expected to use social networks to search for jobs in the cities. Flexibility in job search shortens unemployment period. Rapid migration to urban centres is expected owing to slow and uneven economic growth (IOM 2015) even in India. North East labour migration is caused by unemployment issues at the origin of migration, that is, north-eastern region or NER (Usha and Shimray 2010; Remesh 2012; Marchang 2017, 2018). The North East migrants have some educational qualification and skills (Usha and Shimray 2010; Ramesh 2012; Marchang 2017, 2018) that motivates them to out-migrate for employment to cities where opportunity flourishes and prevailing wages are relatively higher. In India, new employment opportunities are mushrooming and available in selective sectors, some urban regions and some urban centres (Kundu 2007). The argument that propensity to migrate increases with an increase of acquired educational qualifications (Cote 1997) appears to apply for North East migrants too. The North East migrant workers worked in various cities of India to meet their expenses of stay, to pay for their education, support their siblings’ edu­cation and their families back home (McDuie-Ra 2012; Marchang 2018).

However, obtaining a job is constrained by an intrinsic skill to qualify the labour as employable. Employability, a psycho-social construct, is the basic set of skills and abilities necessary to find a job, remain in a job or obtain a new job (Robinson 2000; Misra and Mishra 2011). It is determined by the job-­related qualifications, willingness to develop new competencies, willingness to change jobs and knowledge of the labour market (Wittekind et al 2010). Understanding labour employability manifests the recognition of Becker’s (1975) human capital theory. The issue of employability is well related to labour discrimination (Arrow 1971) based on tastes and perception of the employer that reflected wage differences between races, genders or school diplomas. Labour employability traits revolve around the skills, experience, expectation, attitude, flexibility, willingness and competency among other factors of the employees and its interaction in the labour market, particularly with the employers (Arrow 1971; Hodge 1973; Becker 1975; Bricout and Bentley 2000; Grip et al 2004; Wittekind et al 2010; Misra and Mishra 2011; Cai 2013; Likhitkar 2016). Similar traits of labour employability are expected for North East migrant workers. Employers consider the level of edu­cational attainment to measure labour quality or ability (Cai 2013) that determines labour employability. Moreover, many North East migrant workers kept on changing their jobs mainly to obtain their expected remuneration. Labour mobility or switching is imperative to wage growth as per its job-matching theories (Even and Macpherson 2003). The ability to switch jobs primarily depends on workers employability skills such as flexibility.

This paper examines the job-seeking behaviour, various traits of labour employability and the nature of mobility to achieve the employment aspirations of the North East migrant labour in Bengaluru.

Data and Method

The study is largely descriptive based on the primary data collected during August and September 2018 in Bengaluru. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, research questions were canvassed through a personal-interview method. A mixed method of sampling technique was adopted due to difficulty in locating, reaching, and identifying North East migrant workers in Bengaluru. Using simple random sampling and snowball sampling techniques, a sample of 255 workers on the job were drawn. Out of the total sample, 150 workers were randomly drawn from workplaces like salons, malls, restaurants, music institutions, and educational institutions; from residence; and from North East community functions, meetings, and churches in Bengaluru. And the rest were selected following Goodman’s (1961) snowball sampling technique. The initial referees were drawn through individuals from various North East social organisations, such as Rongmei Welfare Organisation, Naga Students’ Union, North East Solidarity and others. The field data is analysed comprehensively covering the aspects of job search, labour employability skills, job dissatisfaction, and job mobility.

Demographic Characteristics and Education

The North East migrant workers surveyed in this study, based on field data result, were those who are currently employed in Bengaluru. The field sample (255 workers) comprises workers from Manipur (31.8%), Nagaland (20.0%), Assam (12.5%), Mizoram (11.0%), Meghalaya (8.2%), Tripura (6.7%), Arunachal Pradesh (5.5%), and Sikkim (4.3%). It consists of almost an equal representation of males (50.6%) and females (49.4%) indicating that there is no gender discrimination by their family and parents for outmigration and they are equally engaged in economic activities for their livelihood. They were in the most economically productive age group (18 to 46 years) having high job expectations. Migrants were largely never-married bachelors (78%), followed by married (21%), and divorced or separated (1%).

Similar to the findings of Ramesh’s (2012) study of the North East migrants in Delhi, those in Bengaluru were mostly (94%) educated who have completed matriculation and above qualification. And the rest of the workers have qualification below matriculation. Over half (55%) of the workers have studied arts and humanities subjects that may cause employability issues in the modern technology-driven employment. The remaining workers have studied science, including engineering and allied subjects (18.5%), commerce and management (6.3% each), theology (2.4%), and up to matriculation without any specialisation (12%). Above half (60%) of the workers have migrated to Bengaluru after completing studies in the North East. And the rest have studied in other cities, including Bengaluru.

Thus, many North East migrants initially migrated to cities for education, and after completion of their education, they moved to other cities to find employment. It also implies that out-migrants for education in the cities either do not want to return to their native place or have further migrated for jobs to other cities. Intercity migration (outside the North East) for employment is prominent. Moreover, migrants predominantly have studied in English medium (95% in school education and 89% in higher education) that enhance English communication skills for a job. English communication skills, in particular, enhance the chance of finding and keeping a job.

Outmigration for Work

Census of India data shows that outmigration from NER to Bengaluru has substantially increased sixfold in number and migration for employment has increased from 16% to 46% between 1991 and 2011 (Table 1). Unemployment problems in the North East and employment opportunities in the cities are the primary reason for outmigration for employment (Usha and Shimray 2010; Ramesh 2012; Marchang 2018). The unemployment problem has aggravated in most of the North East as its unemployment rates (usual principal status) have considerably increased between 1993–94 (NSSO 1997) and 2011–12 (NSSO 2014).

Further, it is validated, based on field data results, that initially most of the North East workers have migrated to Bengaluru for job-related reasons, some for education and a very few for other reasons such as marriage across different age groups (Table 2, p 62). Over half of them migrated to the city primarily in search of (better) employment due to lack of opportunities at the place of origin of migration. That indicates either the severity of unemployment issues, inability to find a job or the shortage of the expected job at the origin. Conversely, they migrated to Bengaluru due to the availability of job opportunities in the city. Moreover, over a quarter of the workers migrated to take up a better job in the city highlighting dissatisfaction from previous employment primarily associated with low remuneration. This further indicates that their aspired jobs were not obtainable at their places of origin. A similar situation prevails for various age groups and categories of the place of last residence (POLR) (Table 2).

Migrants tend to keep on migrating to achieve their job aspirations that ultimately affect their well-being. It is evident from the proportion of the POLR of migrants (Table 2) that a considerable share has migrated to Bengaluru from places other than the North East as forward migrants. However, a majority of the migrants to Bengaluru were the first-time out-migrants from the North East for almost all the reasons for migration. A majority of the migrants have migrated primarily for employment. Education is the second prominent reason for migration. About 36% of the migrant workers initially migrated primarily for education in Bengaluru indicating that after completion of their studies, they continue to stay back in the city and enter into the labour market. Thus, the North East migrant workers are fairly employable in the available job
opportunities of the city.

Social Networks, Job Search Flexibility, and Waiting Period

Social networks, which supplement publicly available information, provide employment information faster than non-network job-seeking methods (Livingston 2006). It is used extensively both by jobseekers to find a job and by employers to acquire information concerning potential employees (Davern 1999). The North East migration to the cities has been largely in the form of chain migration through a social network for various reasons, including job search (Marchang 2018). Social networks through friends, colleagues, social media, seniors, teachers, and relatives are a prominent medium for disseminating and gathering job vacancy information since 70% of the North East migrant workers got their job vacancy information through it. This reaffirms the findings of Davern (1999) and Livingston (2006) that social networks are widely used to collect employment information by jobseekers to find a job. Further, only 13% of them got their job through a proper advertisement. And the rest (17%) was facilitated by brokers, agents, placement consultancies and direct enquiry about the job.

Workers mostly do not wait for long to get their present jobs largely because of the nature of job-search processes through social networking that somehow has job assurance. The workers’ job waiting period, that is, the job-searching period ranges from one to 18 months. On an average, migrants, who were mostly educated, sought their present job for two months only. The inverse relationship between duration of unemployment of a person and level of educational qualification (Prasad 1979) holds true for these educated migrants. However, the job waiting period varies between migrants depending on their type, nature and level of educational qualifications, and the nature of job search. Most workers (91%) got a job within three months perhaps due to flexibility in seeking or choosing their occupation. Even among the new workers (that is, on the first job), who are mostly educated (93%), about 86% got their job within three months. It contradicts the finding of Visaria (1998) that the unemployed, especially the educated, went through a long waiting period for employment before their first job is found. It is because the opportunity cost for the unemployed migrants is higher than the unemployed non-migrants. Moreover, jobseekers cannot afford to remain unemployed for a long period if they are living in poverty and human capital endowment is poor, which would eventually force them to take up lower-profile jobs (Mitra and Verick 2013). Thus, most migrant workers remain unemployed for a shorter period owing to job search flexibility. Their flexibility and adjustability depend upon their economic condition and the prevailing labour-market condition. Being a modest middle-income migrant, their opportunity cost of remaining unemployed is very high. The issue of employability of North East migrants in the city is associated with their household economic condition where workers usually made a downward adjustment of job and income aspirations (Marchang 2017).

The existence of long-term unemployment is negligible among the North East migrant workers. According to Krueger et al (2014), long-term unemployment means being without a job for more than seven months. The long-term unemployed are on the margins of the labour market as they are either self-discouraged accompanied by skill erosion or discrimi­nated against by employers. They find it harder to get and keep jobs. They, after experiencing greater difficulty in finding work, often compromise their job aspiration and trade down to accept the lower-graded job (Roberts 1985; Todaro 1991; Mitra and Verick 2013) implying they had a false job aspiration that otherwise was employable at the lower-graded job.

The educated seek a specific job or white-collar jobs and remain unemployed till they get their aspired job (Callaway and Bettenhausen 1973; Gumber 2000). Because it is evident that the majority (63.5%) of the North East migrant workers do not seek a specific job or wait for a particular job till they get their aspired job, implying their readiness to take up any remunerative job irrespective of occupation. It shows that they searched for multiple jobs and chose the jobs they felt best suited with their interest, outlook and skill. The rest (36.5%) have sought a specific job such as in the information technology (IT) sector, teaching, banking, nursing, air hostess, etc.

Migrant workers who do not seek a specific job and are flexible got a job relatively easier and faster when compared to those who seek a specific job. Among those who do not seek a specific job, 92.6% of them got their job within one to three months, 6.8% within four to six months and 0.6% within 13–18 months. However, in the case of migrants seeking a specific job, 88.2% of them were unemployed for one to three months, 9.7% for four to six months, and 1.1% each for 7–12 and 13–18 months. To some extent, it shows that aspiring and seeking a specific job takes a longer waiting period.

It takes a relatively long time to find a job for some of the business process outsourcing (BPO) (2.5%), IT (5.9%) and airline (12.5%) workers, owing to their nature of professionalism, as they remain unemployed for over seven months before getting a job. The remaining majority of the BPO, IT, and airline workers got their present job in less than six months. For the rest of the jobs as retail executive or manager, teacher, security personnel, corporate employee, banker, hospital staff and others, the period of waiting has been less than six months. It shows the North East migrant workers are attracted and have higher employability traits in these occupations.

Over-qualification and Job Search Flexibility

The widespread upgradation of minimum hiring educational qualification for a job (Todaro 1991) because of the deterio­ration in the quality of education (Visaria 1998) remains applicable even for the North East migrants. Thus, over-qualification is prevalent for the North East migrant workers as 14.5% (37 workers) of the total 255 workers in Bengaluru claimed to have possessed qualifications higher than that prescribed for their job. This is associated with the deterioration of employment prospects (Roberts 1985; Visaria 1998) because the education system has failed to produce employable labour (Visaria 1998). It indicates that they have traded down their job aspiration below their acquired qualification, and were not employable in a job that was commensurate with their level of education. Usually, after a spell of unemployment, the unemployed, after experiencing greater difficulty in finding their aspired job, are often obliged to trade down and accept the second or third best job (Roberts 1985). It calls forth for improved educational quality to enhance labour employability and generate adequate employment avenues. Additionally, among them, about 73% did not seek a specific job, which means they were ready to take up any job of their interest; and the rest 27% sought a specific job of finance-related, IT, human resource, teaching, security, cosmetic, government job and aviation.

Employment, Job Agreement, and Job Security

The North East migrant workers, largely educated, mostly worked in the private (predominantly organised) sector (97%) and some of them (3%) work in the semi-government organised sector. It is aligned with the findings of Parthasarathy and Nirmala (2000) that educated people seek employment primarily in the public or private organised sectors. The low employment in the public sector shows that many of the migrants cannot afford to wait for a public sector job for long due to economic pressure. Immediate employment is prioritised due to their modest household economic condition and financial pressure.

Similar to the findings of Gooptu and Sengupta (2012), the North East migrant workers were engaged in various occupations ranging from retail, corporate, hospitality, spa, airline to educational institutions in Bengaluru. The single largest occupation was as corporate workers, including BPO, corporate, and IT employees (37.3%), followed by retail executives (19.6%), make-up artists (6.7%), security and restaurant workers (6.3% each), teacher, including music and secular (4.3%), nurse and airline workers (3.1% each), bank employees (2.0%), self-employed and retail managers (1.6% each), outreach officers (college) (1.2%), spa, graphic designers and self-employed (0.8% each) and visualise merchandising, vendor managers in office campus, room service waiters, research assistants, nursing tutors, laboratory assistants, interior designers, human resource, housekeeping, fitness instructors, English editors and bartenders (0.4% each). Male workers predominantly work in retail, corporate, restaurant, and security services; while females largely work in retail, corporate, make-up studio, educational institutions, hospitals, and airlines.

On average, a worker earns `25,001 to `30,000 per month. Migrants normally have a higher expectation in terms of wellbeing and job remuneration. Around 45% of the workers got their expected salary, 50% of them received salaries lesser than expected and about 5% of them got more than the expected salary. Workers who have accepted and received lesser-than- expected salary indicate their difficulty in getting the desired job or having employability issue for the desired job thereby traded down job and salary expectations after a spell of unemployment and financial difficulty. Over-expectation of job and salary is one of the problems of labour employability (Bricout and Bentley 2000; Likhitkar 2016).

The majority (90.6%) of these workers have been employed for less than five years, and the rest (9.4%) for more than 10 years in their current job. The majority of them were working for a period of less than five years across a different period of migration (Table 3). Many workers have lived in the city for longer years but are working in their current job for a shorter period indicating partly that the workers tend to change their job frequently either voluntarily due to dissatisfaction or involuntarily due to lay-off or termination by the employer. For example, there were about 34% of those who were working for less than a year or 36% of those who were working for a period of one to less than five years among those who have lived in Bengaluru for a period of five to less than 10 years.

Moreover, migrants do not continue in their same job as they keep on changing their job. The proportion of migrants employed for various periods do not correspond to various migration durations (Table 3). For example, 92 migrants have lived in Bengaluru for five to less than 10 years but only 10.9% were working in their present job for the same period. It indicates that many of them faced job insecurity or have unsatisfactory terms and conditions of employment, salary, working environment and others.

Having job terms and conditions agreement between the worker and employer for job security is important. About 61%, 32% and 7% workers claimed to be on permanent, temporary and contractual job, respectively. Only over half (52%) of the permanent workers (155), 54% of the temporary workers (82) and all the contract workers (18) have a job agreement. Overall 56% have a job agreement. The rest, which constitutes a considerable 44%, do not have a job agreement. Without any job agreement, the terms and conditions of their job are susceptible and vulnerable to the discretion of their employer. Job insecurity and job loss, under situations like the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, is undeniably due to the absence of job agreements.

Employability Skills

Employability is a construct of attributes that enhance the opportunity of getting employment, such as individual qualities, occupation-related and specific skills, labour-market conditions, government policies, wage policies, employer training policies, etc (Hodge 1973; Grip et al 2004; Misra and Mishra 2011). Employability depends upon employment-related traits, such as loyalty, commitment, morale, honesty and integrity, enthusiasm, common sense, positive self-esteem, motivation, performance, reliability, adaptability, effectiveness, pressure management, aspirations, biases and attitudes towards the employment of a person (Bricout and Bentley 2000; Likhitkar 2016). According to Likhitkar (2016), employability issue originated from the mismatch of skills possessed by the person and that required by the employer in the labour market. The mismatch arises from the appropriateness of the choice of qualification, adequacy of subject knowledge, sufficient skills for a particular job and adequacy of practical and technical knowledge. In India, the problem of labour employability includes the mismatch of demand for (practical) and supply of (possessed) skills and the problem of over-expectation of job and salary among others. Further, factors that influence labour employability include training and mentoring an employee, work experience, flexibilities, abilities, competencies, willingness to learn new things and working functions, skill development programmes that possibly enhance the chances of gaining reemployment after having been laid off, improved labour market elasticity, and educational qualification. Employers’ expectations from the employees are many ranging from the ability to work, dedication, motivation, commitment, and communication, flexibility and creativity.

Labour competency is a mental ability to execute work. Having a competency and willingness to develop new competencies partly determines labour employability (Wittekind et al 2010). For North East migrant workers, the nature of competency was multifaceted for their current work. All workers felt competent to either manage or execute the work. Their competency includes ability to manage, plan, organise, guide, coordinate, execute and motivate among others. It was derived from their confidence, skills, ability, experience, and education. Skills required for the workers’ current job are many and varied across establishments. Only some workers (3.5%) expressed that specific skills, such as communication, teamwork, confidence, responsibility, positive attitude or management skills were primarily required to execute their current job. The rest (96.5%) needed a combination of multiple skills for it. The various skills needed for work include multiple combinations of the following: communication, initiative, teamwork, planning, guidance, confidence, appreciation, adaptation, negotiation, organisational, thinking, technological, work safety, responsibility, positive attitude, resilience, willingness to learn, self-management, motivation, problem-solving, pressure management, valuing diversity, numeracy, and patience.

For the current job, communication was the foremost skill required as the majority of workers (89%) have opined. The ability to guide and have the skill to take any responsibility were the second largest needed skills. Having confidence in executing work, organisational skills and a positive attitude towards work, co-workers, employers and other people were also considered important skills. A quarter of the workers felt that skills of teamwork, planning, appreciation, adaptation, technical knowledge and willingness to learn from colleagues and others were needed for their job. Skills such as the ability to take initiative for any activity, negotiate, think, work safety, resilience, self-management, motivate others, problem-solving, pressure management, valuing diversity, numeracy skills, and patience were also needed but considered as not so important by many workers. Hence, having good communication skills along with other job-related skills, mainly who can guide or help others and execute the work with responsibility, may enhance labour employability.

On-the-job Skill Training

Migration can address labour and skill shortages by making migrants in the labour pool more employable (IOM 2015) through skill training. Most workers enhance their human-capital stock after education, mainly through on-the-job training programmes (Borjas 2005). Development of employability skills is required for enhancing labour employability (Visaria 1998; Sermsuk et al 2014) through education. Employability issues can be addressed by changing the entire educational system and content of the curricula orienting towards skill development and practicals considering the changing structure of the economy (Visaria 1998). Thus, the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 attempts to link skills development to improved employability and productivity in India (MSDE 2015). Subsequently, the National Education Policy, 2020 aims to provide opportunities for job and research internships to students to improve the labour employability potential of higher education programmes (MHRD 2020).

Evidently, only 18% (46) of the migrant workers’ working skills and knowledge were acquired from their formal school or college education. However, for the rest, it was not acquired directly from their educational syllabus. Their working skill was acquired mostly through on-the-job training (66%) that was followed by both job training and self-learning by observation and self-learning by observation (16.3%), self-learning by observation (8.1%), training from colleagues and self-learning by observation (4.3%), employment training and from colleagues (3.3%), from colleagues (1.4%), and through experience (0.5%). It shows that labour is employable after a worker is trained, tried and tested on the job. Thus, most workers (90%) have acquired the required skill and knowledge to perform their current job partially or entirely through on-the-job training. It highlights that job training builds the capacity and ability to perform an activity and stay on the job. Eventually, it may enhance the employability of labour and also increase labour productivity. Therefore, on-the-job training is primarily necessary skill developmental training for workers to be employable. The ILO (2013) has established that development of targeted skills training or apprenticeship programmes enhances workers employability.

Workers received job training for skill development and employment stability from the employers, while employees voluntarily agree to remain with that employer to allow the employer to earn returns from such skill investment in employees (Burea 2003) remains practical. Out of the 255 workers, most have received on-the-job training at the workplace from employer (79.6%), some received it from elsewhere (6.7%), and some did not receive training (12.2%). And a few got it through self-training or self-employment (1.6%). Hence, job training is largely essential for workers to be employable.

Job Dissatisfaction and Mobility

New entrants in the labour market whose present job is their first and continuing in it constituted 31.4% (80) of the total North East migrant workers. And the rest (68.6% or 175) were working in their second or subsequent job that shows that they did not continue to work in their same job but willingly changed it. The willingness to change a job is one of the characteristics of labour employability (Wittekind et al 2010). Many North East migrant workers willingly kept on changing their jobs. Among them, 32.0%, 59.4%, and 8.6% have changed their job for the first time, few times and many times, respectively, before joining in their present job. It was due to the issues related to job security, working environment, remuneration, work timing and others. Nevertheless, they are relatively more employable because of work experience. They often switch between jobs to achieve their aspired job or salary that is similar to the findings of Even and Macpherson (2003). The workers of corporate and retail sectors have a higher tendency to change their job because the workers in their second or subsequent job have previously worked mostly as corporate/BPO workers (35.4%) and retail executives (25.1%). And the rest of the workers have previously worked in other occupations. It portrays that they either do not have a steady job or have raised job aspirations.

Intra-change of employment (for example, from BPO to BPO) is more common than the interchange of jobs (for example, from retail to hospitality). A large number of workers continue in the same profession or job description. However, many workers have changed their occupations. For example, some earlier corporate or BPO employees are currently working in the banking sector, and some earlier make-up artists, hairstylists and songwriters are currently working in aviation. It indicates some possess the skill, expertise and knowledge that suit the job that was unexplored or they develop it over some time through experience that enhances their labour employability and make them relevant for multiple occupations. It shows that there is untapped employable knowledge and skills among some people which can be ascertained only after they are tried and tested in some job. However, most workers’ existing skill, expertise and knowledge revolve around their previous occupation that hinders interchange of jobs.

Evidently, 35%, 55%, 6.3%, and 3.8% of workers in their first job have worked in their present job for <1 year, 1 to <5 years, 5 to <10 years and >10 years, respectively. Contrarily, among workers in their second or subsequent jobs, 29.1%, 61.7%, and 9.1% have worked in their present job for <1 year, 1 to <5 years, and 5 to <10 years, respectively. This highlights that the majority of the new entrants and experienced workers worked in the same job for a short period of up to five years. It shows that their jobs are insecure and not permanent, irrespective of their claim as a permanent job, and they tend to leave their job or get laid off after a few years of employment.

Employment instability is partly owing to the employers’ policies of constantly changing the workforce to maintain low-wage bills (Papola 1968). Low remuneration and working environment issues encouraged switching between jobs for most of the migrant workers. Workers in second or subsequent jobs sought an alternative job while they were on the previous job. About 32% of them did not spend time waiting for their current job. But a majority (68%) of them had to wait for a period between one month and four years for their current job after their previous employment. Thus, most of the current workers did not continuously work primarily due to inadequate access to job vacancy information, break taken on health issues or to go home, and had difficulty in getting a new job. However, the majority workers got a new job within six months owing to the possession of the required skill for their aspired job. It is just a matter of locating, identifying and applying at the right place for the right opportunity. Noticeably, as the waiting period between jobs increases, the proportion of persons who have previously worked decreases almost consistently. This pattern indicates that some workers are very much employable in their aspired job and some trade down their job expectations as job-seeking period increases. Others remained voluntarily unemployed for a longer period, self-supported from previous employment savings, as they could not compete and achieve their aspired job. They are employable at a lower-profile job but did not trade down their expectation.

Sizeable workers continuously attempt to change their jobs due to dissatisfaction. As much as 20.4% (52) of the total 255 workers were currently seeking another (new) jobs due to dissatisfaction. Workers were concurrently seeking for a new job primarily because of their desire of stable, permanent, decent and more remunerative employment. It indicates that the salary expectation is unmet, difficult to move or get a new job, and labour employability is doubtful in other more remunerative jobs. They were also seeking it for their professional and career growth, and to work in a pleasant working environment with better working hours. Besides these, unprofessionalism at the workplace among some employers is another factor that causes them to seek new jobs. These factors essentially influence the worker’s job aspiration that affects the prospect of their labour employability. Labour employability is affected by both the intrinsic skills and exogenous factors such as the remuneration. It includes both intrinsic individual quality and labour-market conditions that limit the accessibility of some people to some jobs (Hodge 1973). Provision of a good working environment and salary by the employer appears to be imperative to retain labour.


Unemployment issues are causing outmigration from NER to Bengaluru. Migrants extensively use social networks to search for jobs. The use of social networks and flexibility in job search shortens the waiting period. Some workers, including educationally overqualified, tend to lower their aspirations after facing difficulty in obtaining their aspired job. Migrants worked predominantly in the private sector earning a modest income. Their employment in corporate, retail and hospitality sectors were considerable. They change job frequently due to lay-offs or termination by the employer as many workers do not have job agreements. In the absence of a job agreement, the terms and conditions of the job are susceptible and vulnerable to the discretion of the employer causing job insecurity and job loss.

Workers derive labour competency from confidence, skills, ability, experience and education. Communication was the foremost skill requirement. Labour employability is attributed to intrinsic personal skills as well as by exogenous factors such as remuneration and working environment. The latter immensely determines the prospect of the worker to continue in the same job. Most workers acquired their working skill and knowledge from on-the-job training. Job training enhances labour employability and job stability. Moreover, job dissatisfaction, low remuneration and job instability caused job mobility. Corporate and retail workers in particular largely kept on switching their jobs willingly. Job mobility is to achieve the worker’s aspired wage due to the low labour wage bill mandated by employers. Work experience enhances labour employability. Intra-job mobility is more prominent than inter-job change. Flexibility in seeking and choosing a job essentially enables job mobility. Labour was found employable after it was tried and tested on the job.

Hence, it is necessary to promote English-medium education, link and bridge the educational syllabus with the skills demanded by industry, create flexibility in job search, avoid long-term unemployment, encourage job switch, avoid over- expectation of salary, enter a job contract agreement, provide extensive skill development training, provide on-the-job training, and promote compulsory internship and apprenticeship after graduation to enhance the labour employability.


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Updated On : 29th Jul, 2022
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