The youth population of a country is generally considered as its assets and strong pillars of a rising economy. One such nation which was expected to rise as a huge economically ambitious region is now losing its value due to its unskilled youths and high unemployment rates. Once considered a formidable asset, has India’s demographic bulge turned toxic due to the country’s lost economic decade?
High Unemployment Rates
Since India’s stellar growth got derailed by the 2008 recession, it has struggled to get back on track. More than a decade on, its fiscal deficit has not fully recovered as companies failed to clear debt, and banks ran low on fresh capital. While the GDP rate began recovering before the pandemic hit, the noise on the ground was far less promising, with political turmoil fueling economic discontent and insecurity among citizens from all walks of life.
In the latter half of the decade, the government made some hasty and unpopular decisions. For instance, in 2016, the demonetization of 500 and 1000 rupees bills hit without warning. The move immediately crippled the poor, and left financiers clutching their wallets. Then, the July 2017 introduction of a goods and services tax further fueled uncertainty and compliance issues. Together, the two created a slump in corporate investment, and therefore jobs. With the covid-19 pandemic, recovering from the decade-that-was now seems even trickier. In addition to straining infrastructure and existing workforces, the disruption it wrought has created long-term job losses.
Is The Indian Education System Good Enough?
Sheer numbers of young people won’t help India’s economy grow. It’s the quality of talent that will determine their actual impact—and that should concern India. The rot sets in early, during the school years to be precise. A cocktail of poor quality instructors, outdated curricula, inadequate infrastructure, and time-consuming certification processes have kept India’s education system tied up in knots, a 2019 Unicef report found (pdf). Skilled workers are rare. Of the 13 million youngsters that join the workforce each year, only one in four management professionals, one in five engineers, and one in 10 graduates are considered fit for jobs. Among the large swathes of college graduates, most are deemed unemployable (pdf).
“Knowledge-based industries have become more prominent, and jobs that require a higher level of skill have gone up in demand. While this has meant that the perception of India as a destination for higher quality has become more important than a destination for labor arbitrage, it has also meant that there are greater expectations of skilled resources being able to provide world-class standards,” says Anandorup Ghose, partner at Deloitte India. “The education and training industry has struggled to keep pace with this, and there has been a clear case of an inverse relationship between quality of talent and availability.” he adds.
The Gender Disparities And The Reservation Tumor
The recruitment process can be haphazard and ridden with corruption (and often nepotistic), making it difficult for those without the right contacts and recommendations to make it. Jobseekers often end up working in roles they are overqualified for only to get some security, and pay off student loans.
Gender disparity has not been uprooted yet either. In both urban and rural pockets, cultural barriers and safety concerns hinder women’s educational and professional development. Those who do enter the workforce constantly battle biases during recruitment, and in the workplace. Right before the pandemic, unemployment in India was at 7%, but for women, it was 18%. When covid-19 hit, working women were already juggling their professional lives with household duties and children’s education. The abrupt changes that followed ended up forcing many to quit the workforce.
Source : Quartz India