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Skilling Youth Today Is Key To Shaping India’s Tomorrow

(January 12, 2022)

Fresh graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to seek employment due to lack of appropriate skills and experience required in the job market.

The youth of the country are a dynamic population that plays a crucial role in the nation’s growth and development. They form strong pillars of the social and economic growth of communities. One in every third person in India is below the age of 24. This creates a large pool of human resources with high untapped potential for development. A nation’s productivity and development depend on the skills that its workforce holds. As a result of the demographic dividend, the youth will be key to building a strong economy. With an abundance of natural resources, improving world-class infrastructure, and policies that support self-reliance, India is on a path to breaking barriers and positioning itself among world leaders. At the heart of this progress are the people, especially the youth who are the principal resource contributing to national growth.

However, according to UN reports, young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than other adults and are continuously exposed to low quality of jobs, greater labour market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. With the onset of the global pandemic, the youth of the country were subjected to a disconnect from quality education and work opportunities as economic activities plunged. As per the results of the latest quarterly Periodic Labor Force Survey (PLFS), conducted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, around 23 per cent of urban youth in the 15-29 age group remained unemployed in January-March 2021. As per data from independent economic data agency CMIE, India’s labour participation ratio has fallen to 40.15 per cent in November 2021, i.e., 60 per cent of employable people in India have fallen off the job market. These factors make it important to help the youth of the nation access training and skill development opportunities through public and private initiatives.

Fresh graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to seek employment due to lack of appropriate skills and experience required in the job market. Widening skill gap is the major reason for growing inequality in job opportunities and increasing unemployment among youth. There is a growing need to restore the balance between demand and supply of skills in the market. Skilling and training of youth for 21st-century employability skills and capabilities will help create a skilled workforce that can contribute towards socio-economic growth. The youth must be trained in real-time market-oriented skills that encompass soft skills as well as technical skills rather than specific skills taught in isolation. Holistic skills training will not only help the youth get employed and participate in the workforce but will also allow them personal growth and a climb up the social ladder.

At the core of skilling is basic education. The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) is a step in the right direction as it aims to address the skilling of the youth to prepare a workforce that is fit for industrial revolution 4.0. Focus on vocational training will allow students to grow in sectors of their interest and help them tap their true potential to contribute fully to the nation’s development. While the NEP 2020 is at work, there is a need to address skilling and training for the youth who are currently looking for employment and skill acquisition. Given the rise in digitization across India, remote and virtual-mode learning needs to be leveraged to reach out to youth in semi-urban and rural India to provide skilling opportunities that can enhance talent and help provide access to employment opportunities, leading to the development and growth of communities. Skilling fresh graduates and those who lack the skills required for the job market and upskilling those looking to move industries or move upwards in their current sector will be a definite addition to the quality of the national labour force.

Make no mistake, skilling and training will be key in forming a world-class workforce that aids the Indian economy’s ascendancy. Addressing the skilling and training needs of India’s youth will also help our country achieve its sustainable development goals of reduced inequality, decent work and economic growth, and poverty eradication and overall wellbeing. We need to take steps now to harness the true potential that the youth of India hold so that our country is able to realize its demographic dividend.

The article is written by Santanu Mishra, Co-Founder and Executive Trustee, Smile Foundation.

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