In a new initiative launched by the government, labourers can get jobs in the nearest MSMEs based on their skills via WhatsApp.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) launched a new artificial-intelligence-driven chatbot feature on WhatsApp which will enable labourers to find jobs just by sending a “Hi”. This new initiative by the government will be an easy skill driven job hunt for workers so that they can find jobs that suit their skills. The coronavirus pandemic has led many migrant workers to lose their jobs because of the lockdown that occurred due to the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. With such Government led-initiatives, workers will be helped to gain a fixed source of employment and can start afresh with new opportunities that match their skills. 

The Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) of the DST has created a portal called the Shramik Shakti Manch (SAKSHAM) for mapping the skills of workers as per the requirements of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), providing them jobs in their native area or home states with the help of WhatsApp. With this, another initiative launched by TIFAC is the Seaweed Mission for commercial farming of seaweeds and its processing for value addition towards boosting the national economy.

How will the chatbot work?

  • When a labourer will send a message to the WhatsApp chatbot, it will ask few follow-up questions about the person, their work experience and other important information.
  • On the basis of the information received, the artificial intelligence system will connect the user with the nearest available job provider.
  • For those who don’t have smartphones, an offline variant is also available which they can access through a missed call on 022-67380800. 
  • The chatbot is only available in English and Hindi currently but the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) is working on stretching the project to other languages as well.

The portal has a detailed map of MSMEs across India. The portal matches labourers with possible job opportunities in their regions using the details provided to it by the workers and the availability of jobs in the nearby area. It is available on the number 7208635370. 

TIFAC is an autonomous organisation of the Department of Science and Technology. On its 34th Foundation Day, both initiatives of Shramik Shakti Manch and Seaweed Mission were discussed in the light of the theme “Technology, Innovation and Economy for AtmaNirbhar Bharat.”

SAKSHAM Job Portal 

The SAKSHAM job portal will help eliminate the role of middlemen and labour contractors. It will also help in the identification of skill proficiency level and development of Skill Cards for Shramiks. 

This initiative will facilitate the placement of around 10 lakh blue-collar jobs (pan-India), by directly connecting shramiks with MSMEs.This portal will reduce the hardship of shramiks in finding jobs in nearby MSMEs.

“The portal can be used by electricians, plumbers, agricultural workers, and others. Those who do not have a smartphone can give a missed call from a landline to make use of the portal and get placed in a suitable job,” Pradeep Srivastava, Executive Director at TIFAC.

He also mentioned that the idea is to reduce the need for the labour force to travel large distances to look for jobs. Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) and efforts by the TIFAC, could bring about cultural changes to connect the invention and innovation ecosystem and instill confidence to realise self-reliance in every sector through science and technology.

Seaweed Mission

The Department of Science and Technology in a statement also said, “By an estimate, if seaweed cultivation is done in 10 million hectares or five percent of the Exclusive Economic Zone area of India, it can provide employment to around 50 million people.” TIFAC will demonstrate a model along with other ministries for commercial farming of seaweeds and its processing.

This technique of Seaweed farming will prove beneficial to produce crops that require no freshwater or fertilizers, while providing a variety of valuable ecosystem services like preservation of corals which helps in Carbon sequestration as it stores Carbon in the form of food through photosynthesis.

Seaweeds can be used for extracting some commercial products such as Carrageenan and Agar. These products help develop polysaccharides, fertilizer, sludge and other high-value products such as nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals.

“We should identify those areas where technologies have made breakthroughs and bring in indigenous technologies to be independent and globally competent. It is important to make sure that we have an eye on the future as well as on the present, and that is where TIFAC’s role comes in a big way,” said V.K. Saraswat, member of NITI Aayog.

He also stated that the National Research Foundation (NRF) announced recently that it would create an ecosystem for providing a platform for futuristic research to bring our country at par with the rest of the world.