Gangtok, June 11: To engage IT professionals who recently lost jobs due to the pandemic and have returned to the state and have no plans to leave Sikkim anytime soon, the Information Technology (IT) Department of Government of Sikkim is preparing a roadmap with the vision to benefit local employment and lower unemployment rates in the state.
IT Departments’ Secretary Mrinalini Srivastava explained how the Department is gathering the necessary data to plan for the course of action in the future Sikkim’s young professionals.
Srivastava informed that this initiative is just a couple of days old and was inspired by the number of Sikkimese people who were working outside of the state and due to COVID-19 lost or had to leave their job. The idea was to create a database first to learn what career the ones who lost their jobs had, shortlist people whose work was in the IT sector or had an educational background in information technology and electronics.
The database page where applicants can register was launched on June 10 and since then 25 people have registered. Sikkim’s population and demography census were given credit by Srivastava for being able to find people who have worked in renowned IT companies.
“The next phase of the initiative is by proposing a network where applicants can be subsumed in the existing industries that are in Sikkim, and finding where the shortlisted people with IT backgrounds can be fitted in. After this, through the Centre and State government proposals will try come up for some centres like for instance- under the Northeast Provisions, we have a provision for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), and on June 11 we had the first meeting with the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) on getting that BPO organized.
We are also going to meet companies like Thompson Digital to talk of how many IT professionals they can accommodate. The goal is supporting our population with options, in a democratic process and the Government is inclusive and committed to providing this platform and opportunity.”
Creating this database is one thing, but the most important part is the IT policy from 2006; a lot of things have changed in the last decade, newer methods and platforms are in place, and now with COVID-19 and social distancing as a new normal the IT policy will be revised.
“Having worked in the commerce and skill development industry in the past, I am aware of the aspirations of our youth, and it is more around the service sector of hospitality, tourism, animation, gaming, music, media, film industry, the Government of India usually applies to the private limited rather and not to the proprietary companies, so due to this we are looking at bringing our entrepreneurs together and if they could from some industry within Sikkim where it will be for the Sikkimese people on priority and could create our jobs, despite the limitations of the pandemic,” she added.
She further detailed that since the STPI provided export services in the field of software technologies Sikkim has to export like Thompson Digital, but with this new initiative, the IT Department would have it would have its own GST. Additionally, with the Department also applying for an import-export code and developing their potential to export IT services like Telangana, it has close to Rs. 68,000 crores’ business through the export of IT services. “If a minuscule percentage of the same was done in Sikkim it would be a great service to the Sikkimese people”, said Srivastava.
With the change in the IT policy, they would be subsuming options like the above, besides creating their methodology and working guidelines towards it. Since human resource would be very crucial, the Sikkimese people who have returned are not only skilled but also willing to now work in the state. Seeing this, the Department would now be integrating the whole setup and come up with a solution that would be fruitful and a win-win situation for everyone.
Regarding the major scope for young entrepreneurs and how they can get involved with the IT Department, she said that since the IT Department is also entailed with providing services in various industries like tourism among others, the Department can provide something like an E-market for them, which would require warehouse and people to manage the platform.
The Department can also help in giving them bandwidth since Sikkim suffers from connectivity problems, which will also help in reviving the rural economy. The IT Department is further supporting the rural co-operative and tourism regarding their websites, which will soon be getting registered with the Co-operative Department.
On the bad connectivity problems in Sikkim, Srivastava informed that the Department will be meeting with the service providers to address this issue which would take some time to solve but IT will be giving NIC connections to departments like the Secretariat and key offices in more effective bandwidth. Similarly, they will be conducting survey mapping to check where 4G compatibility already exists.
With the Department working on setting up Sikkim’s first BPO, the Department will be working with entrepreneurs. The question is, how much employment can be created through this and what would be the employment target?
“Let’s say the population of Sikkim is 6.5 lakhs, out of which the voting population is a close 3.75 lakhs, out of which 80,00 people are already working with the Government, a lot of people are involved with the agriculture economy, then in the urban sector, and those involved with tourism so if we subtract all that, there could be around 70,00-80,00 people that need a supportive career, so out of the 5000 people who returned, there aren’t more than 200-300 IT professionals. The BPO under STPI could be able to subsume the 300 people if everything goes right.”
Interested applicants/IT professionals can register at bit.ly/itskilldatabase or from the IT Department’s Facebook page.
C.N. Bhutia, Additional Director of IT Department talked about the setting up of BPOs in Sikkim. “The reason for setting up the BPO centre among others is due to many Sikkimese IT professionals losing their jobs out of the state, so we are trying to find placements for them. So, with the help of STPI, we have roped in the services of a local entrepreneur Rewaj Chettri, we are working towards setting up the BPO centre, which will be the first step.”
Rewaj Chettri, founder of NETaxi and NEHoliday said, “For the STPI scheme of the BPO, we have looked at infrastructure and manpower that will be needed. If we employ the IT professionals in the BPO, they will not have to migrate again post COVID-19 and the state will be able to retain them which will also help in the economy. My role as an entrepreneur with experience is to help the IT Department with creating more employment opportunities, under the Northeast BPO promotion scheme.”
He adds, “The BPO will be able to create around 50 seats for those IT professionals who lost their jobs. We will try again bidding for more seats from the STPI.”
V.R. Tewari, the Officer in charge of STPI, Gangtok explained what the Northeast BPO promotion scheme is for the state. He said that the scheme is envisaged under Digital India Programme, seeks to incentivize establishment of 5,000 seats in respect of BPO/ITES operations in North East Region (NER), at an outlay of ₹ 50 Crore. This would help in capacity building within the region in terms of infra & manpower and would become the basis for the next wave of IT/ITES led growth. “With the BPO centre functioning for at least 3 years, we will able to create and provide the Sikkimese youth of job opportunities for at least 3 years.”
This news comes as a great relief for the Sikkimese youth since the IT Department and the Government is working towards creating more job opportunities for IT professionals and the youth in general.
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