India has experienced a transformational revolution in the field of education in the last few decades with the number of graduates rising from a few thousands to millions every year. A dramatic rise in university education has equipped Indian youth today with prospects unseen in past generations. However, India appears to be at an influx – facing a crisis that threatens to devastate the economy more than ever before. Education should have addressed the problem of unemployment comprehensively. Instead, there is an alarming rise in the number of unemployed educated youngsters in India, who are finding it increasingly difficult to become part of the employed workforce in the country.
According to a Labour Ministry report, Youth Employment-Unemployment Scenario 2012-2013, nearly 1 in 3 Indian graduates under 29 are unemployed, while the total unemployment is close to a staggering 12 percent. The flourish of education has been so overwhelming that the economy just can't seem to keep pace anymore. That's why it's not uncommon to see bus drivers, construction workers and manual labourers with graduation degrees. The job market cannot absorb the bulge in the number of Indian educated youth anymore. While education has swelled in size, lack of basic vocational and language skills has obstructed these educated youngsters from being able to compete in burgeoning industries like technology, telecom and retail. These newly sprung industries simply cannot offer adequate employment opportunities to non-skilled Indian youth.
The Labour Ministry report also indicates that the unemployment rate among the educated youth is higher than among the uneducated youth. These astounding statistics clearly indicate that India's ability to provide sufficient jobs for its youth is nowhere near where it should be – creating a youth employment crisis like never before. Long-term unemployment diminishes ambition and motivation in youth, causing the International Labour Organization (ILO) to issue warnings of a 'scarred generation' unless radical action is taken. In fact, just 2 percent of India's youth and merely 7 percent of the working age population have received any form of vocational training. Is it any wonder then that India's educated unemployment rate is soaring upwards when it should be scaling downwards?
To tackle educated unemployment efficiently, India must find a way to address the disparity between the skills of students and the needs of the business world. Vocational and entrepreneurship training could be the answers India is looking for to empower youth with the right skills to reduce educated unemployment in the country. Vocational training equips youngsters with applied skills in technical and practical fields, so they can expand their job stratosphere to industries they may not have otherwise considered. This will go a long way in reducing the problem of long-term youth unemployment in the country. Enabling policies should be implemented to ensure that youth are skilled enough to meet the demands of employers through vocational training, outreach programs, apprenticeships and job assistance platforms. But vocational training is simply one end of the spectrum. Arming youngsters with entrepreneurship skills are the key to progressive change, so they can create sustainable businesses capable of producing wealth, generating employment and supporting the economy. Proper strategies should be developed to establish business incubators in both rural and urban areas of India to tackle this growing problem. Training youth to develop technical and entrepreneurship skills will create more independent businesses and more jobs.
However, training programs are simply not enough. Educated Indian youth are suffering from an unexplainable malady. Their headlong pursuit of the sparkle of urban offices is pushing them away from the endless entrepreneurship possibilities they can pursue in a rural environment. To be truly successful, there needs to be a consequential shift in the mindset of the youth. They must realize that having a BA or MA degree is simply not enough to succeed in the highly competitive urban business world. They must be prepared to take risks to accelerate a fundamental shift in their skills, so that they can rely on their individual entrepreneurship capabilities to produce a deep-seated change in their opportunities. Most importantly, youngsters should stop blaming others for their lack of employment and must find ways to establish enterprises that will redefine their economic status.
Educated youngsters are the pillars of India's destiny. They have the power to mould the future by steering the economy in the right direction. As policy makers, NGO's, social enterprises and training institutes, we must help government through PPP, tie-ups to empower and train these youth with fundamentally practical, technical and entrepreneurship skills to succeed in urban and rural environments. Entrepreneurship training is not just our job as facilitators – it is our inherent responsibility! This is exceptionally important because India is on the threshold of becoming the world's youngest country with a working age population of 64 percent by 2020. And we need to pull up our socks!
Sachin Adhikari, a Global Business Leader, Social Entrepreneur, an Author, a Mentor, Thinker and a Strategist, has developed 'Value and Principle' based revolutionary Human Transformation Models for mass application. Institute of Economic Studies with the help of eminent personalities, economists and academicians, conferred 'The Udyog Rattan Award' to Sachin Adhikari in the field of Training and Development Activities across the globe and for 'Excellence' in productivity, Quality, Innovation and Management at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.