The term ‘Youth’ as defined by the UNESCO – is “the period of transition from dependence to independence and awareness of our independence as members of a community”. India is a young nation with nearly 65 percent of its population under 35 years old[i]. However, this demographic dividend might prove to be dangerous, rather than a boon, as India lacks severely in employment, skills and opportunities.
Indian youth can contribute to higher economic growth; their potential must be aided by substantial policy orientation. The sustainable empowerment of youth can be ensured through the four pillars of education, skills and employment, temperamental change and government policy.
But the number of jobs created annually is inadequate to absorb this growing population of youth in the labour market. Currently, the youth unemployment rate (15-24 years) is 10.1 percent. 43 percent of India’s youth are not in employment, education or training[ii]. The labour market has a lot of informal employment (93 per cent) with just about eight per cent working in the formal sector.
According to the Annual Report 2016-17, The National Youth Policy 2014 reiterates the commitment of the entire nation to the all-round development of the youth to enable them to realise their full potential and contribute productively to the nation building process. Several new schemes have been launched recently to encourage entrepreneurship among the youth. These include StartUp India, StandUp India, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan.
Skill India partnered with Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to empower rural youth through scalable skilling and also empowered more than 35 lakh women. 3.16 lakh candidates were placed under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojana(PMKVY 2016-20) in less than two years of its launch.
Despite these multiple efforts, India has formally trained just 4.69 percent of the total workforce (15-59 years of age) of about 487 million people in India.[iii] The government’s own data suggests that only about 80,000 people or less than five percent of the total trained candidates were able to secure a placement.
The ministry said it had certified 612,000 candidates who completed training under the PMKVY-2 and 52 per cent of them had been placed. PMKVY-2 aims to spend Rs12,000 crore on skill training 10 million youth between 2016 and 2020.However, the 52 per cent placement record including self-employment and entrepreneurship is way below the mandatory placement requirement of 70 per cent under PMKVY-2.[iv]
First, industry interface is inadequate and is one of the major issues facing the vocational education and training system in India. Research has also found that the National Skills Development Council has not been able to synchronise course curriculum with industry needs.[v]There is lack of motivated teachers and mentors of quality.
There is an interfering and overpowering political and bureaucratic setup, outdated and rigid curriculum, non-uniformity in curricula, and limited laboratory based education, especially in basic sciences, which makes the youth disinterested. Lack of interdisciplinary approach in imparting education makes them unable to use their knowledge practically. Neither the industry nor other stakeholders are consulted in designing the curriculum.
Second, the Indian labour market is not only creating inadequate jobs, but discriminates against recruiting females. Nearly one-third of females did not receive a job offer compared to 15 percent of males.[vi] Women constitute about 48 per cent of the total population but their participation in the labour force is just about 22 per cent.
Third, the challenges of funding, patents and creation of intellectual property remain. The long process of registration of patents and lack of incentives for research and development is a reason why many start-ups prefer to be domiciled abroad. Around 90 per cent of funding for start-ups comes from foreign venture capital. According to a recent study, over 94 per cent of new businesses fail during the first year of operation.
Fourth, there is no standardisation of certification of skills training. As there is lack of clarity of available programmes, the employers also lack trust in the integrity and quality of training. Third party audits are missing and candidates are often not interested in the jobs they get. Moreover, the placement agencies are more focussed on maximising recruitment without adhering to quality standards.
Fifth, there is a major skew in favour of a handful of states when it comes to training candidates. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship claims that the large gap in the number of those trained and those placed is due to “incomplete data” and that it is taking steps to rectify the matter.
Finally, there is no attention given to skills that will allow individuals to grow. There is no focus on creativity, interpersonal skills etc.
For India to have inclusive growth and fully utilise the potential of its demographic dividend, it must find effective ways of skilling its youth.Or else our huge population is in danger of turning out to be a burden rather than a boon.
* Ispita Mishra is Research Assistant at Centre for Public Policy Research. Views expressed by the author is personal and does not represent that of CPPR
[i]Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
[ii]The World Bank 2012 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.UEM.NEET.ZS?locations=IN2012 numbers
[v]Team Lease Services 2018
[vi]Soledad ArtizPrillman et al, 2017, “What Constrains Young Indian Women’s Participation? Evidence form a Survey of Vocational Trainees. https://epod.cid.harvard.edu/files/epod/files/pandeprillamanmooresingh_skillspolicybrief.pdf