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.

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Updated On : 29th Jul, 2022
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