In 2017-18, 33% of Indian youth was unemployed. While unemployment has always been a cause of concern for India and at the forefront of the nation’s challenges, this figure causes alarm as it includes formally trained professionals, too.
India is considered among the youngest nations in the world. However, while this remains one of our strongest virtues that can contribute to us becoming a global power, the lack of practical skills holds us back. The recent unemployment numbers among trained youth are a testament to India’s faulty education system and the lack of the right learning opportunities for young professionals.
The Government of India had announced that it wanted to create a workforce of 500 million skilled professionals by the year 2022. Of course, the government did not foresee the coronavirus pandemic and the obstruction it would bring with it. Nevertheless, these goals seem unattainable from where we stand, a year from 2022.
There was a time when a degree could get a person their desired job. However, a degree is no longer equivalent to education as even educated Indian youth find it hard to get a job where they can excel. The biggest issue remains the battle between theoretical and practical knowledge. Classroom learning is more or less focused on theory. When students step into professional world, they find themselves ill-equipped to handle the work that comes their way.
The unemployment rate for postgraduates is 36.2% and graduates 35.2%. Professionals with formal vocational training have an unemployment rate of 33%. This highlights the inadequacies in our education system.
Recruiters across industries are struggling to find skilled candidates as most of the educated Indian youth is not necessarily ready for employment. They still lack new-age skills that companies are using on a day-to-day basis. Tech professionals may be the most impacted. With limited online and offline courses for industry-specific training such as engineering, IT, etc., most young professionals lack confidence while encountering on-the-floor problems at their workplace. Moreover, since schools, colleges and universities are following age-old curricula, there is a significant dearth of knowledge of new technologies being adopted by industries. This poses a hurdle when professionals come to face with a real-life circumstance.
But this is where skill development can help. Skill development can end the disparity between the numbers of skilled and unemployed youth. Skill development goes a notch above education and makes students ready to be professionals. Being one of the youngest nations in the world, India has the potential to be a preferred destination for global sourcing. Skill development can bring this to reality by instilling more confidence in young professionals.
As their employability will increase, unemployment rates will decrease and ultimately lead to the nation’s financial growth.
Only 3% of India’s workforce is formally trained. On the other hand, over 80% of China’s workforce is trained. With immediate competition in our neighbourhood, we need to adopt better strategies too. It is time to say goodbye to mediocre standards of education and adopt newer methods. The higher the standards of training and skill development, the better our workforce can be.
Edtech platforms are bridging the gap by offering programmes that provide insights from industry experts and a curriculum that helps an Indian youth take the journey from being students to professionals and, ultimately, true leaders.
The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) can also contribute to solving the problem. Skill development still does not get the kind of attention it deserves. The NSDC can create more awareness around it and come up with suitable programmes that can help professionals. Its current success rate of placements is only 12%. This speaks volumes of the cracks that still exist in the curriculum.
These issues may likely take many years to solve. But a step in the right direction can help us get there eventually. Change can only come when the government, the education system, industries and students unanimously understand and acknowledge the importance of skill development and hands-on knowledge.
About the author: Abhimanyu Saxena is the co-founder of Scaler Academy, an upskilling platform for students &and working professionals.