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Educated Unemployment: Will This Challenge Derail India’s Economy?

Unemployment in India is an alarming concern, within which lies the alarming case of educated unemployed in the country. Amidst the new educational schemes and policies introduced in the system, the number of unemployed graduates is rapidly increasing which is detrimental to the economic health of the country. India is experiencing a demographic transmutation. As per a report, India is adding 12 million people to the working-age population every year.

The median age in India will be 28 by 2022 which is in itself a fringe benefit for the country. Efforts made for educating children and pushing more and more of them to attend nearby schools have increased the number of graduates which consequently has instilled hopes for better lives, but job creation hasn’t kept its pace with this rising number of job aspirants. The tragic irony is that India is the 5th largest economy in the world but ranks as low as 51 in employment rate throughout the world.

Representational Image. For a country with a young median age like India, growing rates of educated unemployment are concerning.

The expanding size of educated unemployed has led to unrest and social conflict among the youth where the privileged are motivated to fly abroad for better job prospects, the middle class is mired down to settle with whatever they have and underprivileged as well as the under-skilled are pushed out of the race.

Reverse Effect

Common evidence shows that the investment in education has helped bring a positive shift in Indians. A decade back, they considered education a burden, a survey now shows that 71% of Indians are willing to take loans for their children’s education. The concern of the hour is disappointing returns on this investment which can push them back to where they stood in the past but this time with a bigger debt on their shoulders. 

Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University reported that unemployment among the well-educated is thrice the national average. It is by far surprising to know that unemployment is increasing directly proportional to the level of education. It is 8% at graduation and further, it accelerates to 9.3% at the post-graduate level.

Education can face negative effects if unemployment continues to haunt the youth of the country. Parents who send their kids to schools and colleges to keep them away from bad habits and lift them from their poor family background in the hope of overcoming financial crises will find their children back in the same rut. Students from agricultural families pursue education in the hopes of becoming white-collar professionals.

In the absence of the required skills and exposure needed for the job industry, they are unemployed and forced to come back to their villages. It is demotivating for others to see their peers not able to earn a living even after earning a degree. These educated unemployed are now in no position to lay their hands in mud as they left the art of agriculture with an aspiration for a better career.

A Dwindling Educational Foundation

The root cause of the problem is amateurish schooling and poor quality of education at colleges. Students are not job-ready and there is a widening gap between students’ skills and employers’ expectations. As a consequence, these degree holders are unemployable for jobs commensurate with their qualifications.

As shocking as it may sound, according to a report, 47% of Indian graduates are unfit for the job market as they lack vocational training. Indian students are cocooned. As a result, they never dig deeper to find their true passion owing to the parental pressure to make an innocuous career choice. This leads to a bulge of unskilled but educated freshers in the job industry further exacerbating the employment prospects with a build-up of unnecessary competition.

Employers expect analytical and practical knowledge of the subjects, but students are only equipped with theoretical know-how, hence, they get defeated in the screening process. An analysis by a talent assessment company, Aspiring Minds, shows a dreary picture of Indian tech graduates, only 10% of the fresh graduates have adequate skills for job roles.

Even Narayana Murthy, Cofounder of Infosys pointed out that Indian freshers lack what it takes to start in the job market. Employability rates of college students remain under 50% and as low as 30% for graduates in arts and commerce. Some 134 million graduates in India are employed, 38% of them remain dissatisfied. The major contributors to their dissatisfaction are job-qualification mismatch and lack of interest in the field. 

Policy Recommendations

Statutory bodies in education should formulate strict quality standards for educational programs to ensure efficacious teaching. Private institutes should be licensed based on stringent parameters to reduce the monetization of education and produce employable graduates. Institutes should be inspected every year based on an annual employability report by employment experts to enhance competitiveness in the education industry and streamline the entire system.

Universities need an entrepreneurial setup that encourages brainstorming and innovation. The education system should stress more on passion-driven careers and help students disencumber societal and parental pressure. It’ll reduce the bulge in the job market and bring freshers closer to the jobs they are the best fit for. Infrastructural investment in rural and semi-urban areas where the majority of the population comes from troubled family backgrounds is needed.

Incentivizing education using different governmental schemes is not enough to build better careers. Public colleges in underdeveloped areas need insightful teaching methodology, an extensive collaboration with advanced institutes for cultural exposure, and a creative platform to boost students’ confidence. These students will themselves become vocal for education within their community. This will work as a motivating strategy and reduce the irrelevant costs incurred in promoting education. Costs saved can then be invested in skill enhancement and overall personality building so that students are all set to face the demanding job market.

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        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.

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