This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anshula Mehta. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Not In Jobs, Training Or Education: The Growing Problem Of ‘Idle’ Youth In India

More from Anshula Mehta

By Balwant Singh Mehta, Simi Mehta and Arjun Kumar (IMPRI)

12th August each year is celebrated as the International Youth Day (IYD) to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the youth. It was first observed in the year 2000. This day aims to endorse ways to engage them in participating more actively in accomplishing affirmative contributions to their association.

The theme of the IYD 2020 is ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’. It seeks to highlight the ways in which young people at the local, national and global level are enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.

As per the United Nations (UN) population prospects, the youth population (15-29 years) globally stands at 1.8 billion in 2020. Out of the total youth in the world, every fifth (20 per cent) resides in India (366 million) reflecting the importance of this segment of people in the country. The youth are faced with many challenges, and one of the most serious issues is the growing number of idle youth i.e. not in employment, education and training (NEET).

On this important day of IYD, we are analyzing the magnitude of NEET youth, who tend to experience varying degrees of social and economic marginalization and are more likely to be left behind from mainstream development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 2030, adopted by the United Nations in 2015 –also set the agenda specifically for target 8.6, which calls for the proportion of youth with NEET status to be substantially reduced in the next 15 years.

Representational image.

Global Employment Trend for Youth 2020 noted that there has been a continued decline in the participation of youth in the labour force across countries. The population of youth has increased from 1 billion to 1.3 billion in the period between 1999 and 2019, but the number of youth engaged in the labour force (either employed or unemployed) has seen a decrease from 568 million to 497 million during the same period.

The most disturbing pattern of youth globally is that one in every five (20%) youth, and 30% of the women and 13% of men — those aged between 15 and 24 (international definition of youth) — are currently classified as NEET. In total, 267 million out of 1.3 billion youth worldwide were not gaining experience in the labour market or receiving income from work or enhancing their education and skills—suggesting that their labour remains under-utilized.

India, at present, is home to the largest population of youth in the world. The ‘National Youth Policy of India’ (2014) defines youth in the country as persons belonging in the age group of 15-29 years. According to Census data (2011), the youth constitute 28% of the total population in the country and have a contribution of over 34 % in the country’s national income estimates. The latest estimates show that around 27% of the total population of 1.3 billion in 2020 is youth.

The positive development has been the growing enrolment of youth in secondary and tertiary level of education, which has resulted in better-skilled employees and the proliferation of decent employment in many countries. However, the Periodic Labour Force Survey for the period 2017-18, reported a significant increase in unemployment rates for the youth segment of the population.

A more serious concern is the increasing joblessness among educated youth (15-29 years), which went up nearly three times from 6.1% in 2011-12 to 17.8% in 2017-18. In particular, the technical degree holders have been noted to fare the worst with their unemployment rate at 37.3%, closely followed by those who are postgraduates and above (36.2%), graduates (35.2%), and youth with formal vocational/technical training (33%).

For young women, the unemployment situation is grave in terms of labour force participation as well as unemployment. Women are moving out of the labour force in greater numbers, but among those who remain in the labour force, unemployment rates are higher than those among men. This holds even for women who are educated or have received training and has worsened during the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

One would imagine that the young population with ‘industry-relevant’ formal vocational training would have better job prospects. But, only 1.8% of the population reported receiving formal vocational/technical training in 2017-18 with youth forming more than half of the people who received formal vocational/technical training, which is in sharp contrast to 50-80% in developed nations. Around 33% of the formally trained youth was unemployed in 2017-18.

Nearly a third of trained young men and more than a third of trained young women were unemployed. Among youth who did not receive such training, 62.3% were out of the labour force. Further, the growing number of NEET is also posing a serious challenge, as the number has increased from 70 million in 2004-05, to 116 million in 2017-18.

The government has increasingly been wary of this and has taken steps to deal with this growing challenge. In recent years, the government has launched the Skill India campaign which includes an array of initiatives under its purview to bridge the gap between lack of skill training and joblessness. A key initiative under the campaign is the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) scheme, Skill India, National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme, and so on.

The PMKVY was envisioned to impart employable skills and help the youth in securing better livelihoods. Although the PMKVY intends to provide training free of cost, most of the youth who have received formal training have had to personally bear the cost of training. The PLFS (2017-18) data shows that only 16% of the youth who received formal training was funded by the government. Around 73% of the trainees underwent full-time training. The training period for more than half of the youth exceeded a year, and about 30% underwent training for more than two years.

unemployment rate in india
Representational image.

It was apparent as early as 2016 that there are several issues with the initiative when a committee (led by Mr Sharda Prasad) appointed by the government to rationalize Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) and improve ‘Skill India’ found that the programme’s targets were too ambitious. Additionally, it was found that the spending of the funds allocated for the programme was not subject to adequate monitoring mechanisms.

On the whole, most youths remain outside the ambit of formal training and many of those who can personally finance themselves to undergo months of vocational training remain jobless. The subsequent decline in budgetary allocations for PMKVY is an indicator that the government itself is not convinced with the working of the scheme.

In sum, as argued by economists and researchers that if the ‘youth’ is properly skilled and absorbed in the labour market; it can contribute to the higher economic growth of the country. The country is going to continue having a larger youth population for the next two decades, which poses an imminent challenge as well – of leveraging the potential of the abundant human resource. However, the increasing unemployed and NEET or Idle youth is posing some serious questions on higher education, skill development, demographic dividend and India’s future.

There are other concerns of quality of jobs, decent workplaces, upper mobility, wages, aspirations, competition accrued by a limited supply of new jobs, contractual nature of jobs, mental health, and creation of opportunities of entrepreneurship and fostering innovations among the young minds. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country is moving towards the vision of New India and AtmaNirbhar Bharat, an urgent thrust to the concerns as well as aspirations of the youth population would be of uNot In Jobs, Training Or Education: The Growing Problem Of ‘Idle’ Youth In Indiatmost significance for inculcating and strengthening their AtmaVishwas.

You must be to comment.

More from Anshula Mehta

Similar Posts

By Shorya Mittal

By pratyush prashant

By Divya Yadav

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below