NEW DELHI: The finance ministry has convened a meeting of state-run bank chiefs on Wednesday to take stock of the employment situation in these entities and seek a monthly recruitment plan for the much sought-after jobs in the financial sector.
Bankers acknowledged that there is a shortage of staff at the branch level as there are fewer hands than private sector lenders, which have higher concentration in urban centres, public sector bank customers, including those in large cities and especially in rural areas, still prefer going to the branches, which are grappling with a depleted pool at the clerical level.
While the number of public sector bank branches has gone up by 28% during the 10 years ended March 2021, the staff strength is down marginally, driven by a fall in the number of clerical and subordinate staff as digital tools and ATMs emerged as a key medium for transaction. At the end of March 2021, public sector banks had 86,311 branches across the country, along with nearly 1. 4 lakh ATMs. A decade ago, they had 67,466 branches and 58,193 ATMs.
Data released by the RBI showed that total number of employees dropped from 7. 76 lakh in 2010-11 to a little over 7. 71 lakh in 2020-21.
While the number of officers in the banking sector has increased by around 26%, there is a sharp decline in the number of clerks and subordinate staff, primarily on account of widespread use of technology and the lack of hiring in these grades.
The finance ministry’s move comes at a time when the Centre is seeking to ramp up recruitment by government agencies to address criticism of not creating enough jobs. In June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set an ambitious target, asking all government departments to hire 10 lakh people by December 2023 and has now asked all ministries to come up with their action plan.
In addition to the government, financial services secretary Sanjay Malhotra will meet bankers, seeking a timebound action plan. The meeting comes days after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke about the need to get those with knowledge of local language to handle front desks, for which banks are yet to work out a plan.
The secretary is also going to ask the lenders to procure goods from Government eMarketplace (GeM), the Amazon-like platform for government procurement, whose scope has been expanded to the public sector and co-operatives. Separately, Sitharaman will meet bank chiefs on September 28 to review credit flow to scheduled castes.