Published: 29th January 2020
Unemployment in Indian youth has doubled since 2016: Will WEF's Reskilling Revolution create jobs?
India also has lesser jobs for those who are more educated — 14.6 per cent of the graduates in our country who are actively looking for jobs are unemployed
India joined the World Economic Forum's Reskilling Revolution as a founding government member on January 22. The initiative is expected to provide one billion people with better education, skills and jobs by 2030. The scheme aims to make workers future-ready so that they can cope with any technological change. A scheme like this is what the much-talked-about Indian youth needs right now — as more than 2.74 crore youth, aged 15 to 29 years, are unemployed and the situation has worsened in the past couple of years, indicates CMIE's quarterly statistical profile of unemployment in India.
The data shows that if classified by age, the most amount of unemployment is seen in the age group 24-29 years — 32.59 per cent of them are unemployed. Even though there are externalities that affect the unemployment rate at that age and it has always been the age group where unemployment is the highest.
What is noticeable is that the number has doubled since 2016 — from 79.7 lakh to 1.5 crore being unemployed in the past three years. The unemployment rate drops dramatically from the age of 30. It falls to 2.5 per cent for the age group 30-34 years and then it falls down close to 1 per cent and then less than 1 per cent. "The problem evidently is severe for the youth who are looking for jobs. The sudden sharp fall in unemployment after 30 years of age implies that beyond a point in age, people settle for whatever jobs become available. A wait for a job cannot be infinite," wrote Mahesh Vyas, Managing Director and CEO of CMIE.
India needs skilling
Even though Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been silent on the issues of unemployment and the economic slowdown, Home Minister Amit Shah recently accused the Opposition of spreading negativity, saying no new solution was found to deal with unemployment during its 50-60 years of rule. On the flip side, Shah also said the government's target to make India a $5 trillion economy was doable. "Those saying negative things in India always talk about unemployment. When they talk about unemployment, a question always comes to my mind. You have ruled this country for 50-60 years, what measures did you take for this country's unemployment problem. I want to ask them all — was any new solution found during your 50-60 years rule to provide employment to the youth of this country having 130 crore population? You did not do anything new and are now seeking answers from us?" Shah asked, without naming any particular political party. He further said the Skill India programme will become a solution to the country's unemployment problem in the coming days. "I also want to ask them, what did they do during their long rule. They took the country's economy to USD 2 trillion in the 70 years post Independence, but the Narendra Modi-led government has taken the $2 trillion economy to $3 trillion within five years," he said.
As per media reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought recommendations from several ministries to bring in new and impactful steps for skilling the youth of this country. The ministries sent their suggestions to the PM on January 10 and the cabinet is likely to incorporate these recommendations in a new five-year plan. Modi has reportedly told his council of ministers and top officials that education is important and the government will always make efforts to push for it, but he also noted that a strong focus should also be skill development. Modi has also suggested that required skill sets should be mapped out effectively against the life cycle of a human being, starting with fulfilling the services needed right from pregnancy (like medicines) and to later stages (like social care for infants, education and more), adding that training people with skill sets specific to their needs could open a pathway to demand-based employment.
On the other hand, the youth wing of the Congress has launched a nationwide campaign to prepare a National Register of Unemployed (NRU) to highlight rising unemployment and demand answers from the government about the steps it was taking to address the issue. The campaign was launched at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi by the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) chief Srinivas BV and the Congress in-charge for IYC, Krishna Allavaru.
Less jobs for the educated
India also has lesser jobs for those who are more educated — 14.6 per cent of the graduates in our country who are actively looking for jobs are unemployed. India's unemployment rate has risen to 7.5 per cent during the last three months of 2019 — September to December — showed the data. "This was the seventh consecutive wave to record an increase in the unemployment rate since May-August 2017 when the unemployment rate was 3.8 per cent," read the CMIE report. "Matters get worse for educated youth. The educated young report a much higher unemployment rate. This indicates that the educated are looking for better quality jobs but are unable to find them," it added.
While those in the age group of 20-24 years reported an unemployment rate of 37 per cent, graduates among them reported a much higher unemployment rate of over 60 per cent. "The year 2019 was the worst for these young graduates. The average unemployment rate for them during 2019 was 63.4 per cent. This is much higher than the unemployment rate they faced in any of the preceding three years. The unemployment rate they faced in 2016 was 47.1 per cent. In 2017 it was 42 per cent and in 2018 it was 55.1 per cent. Therefore, 2019 saw a very severe worsening of conditions for the young graduates," the report read and added, "Similarly, while the age group 25-29 years reported an unemployment rate of 11 per cent, graduates in this age group faced an unemployment rate of 23.4 per cent. They too found 2019 to be the worst of the past four years with an average unemployment rate of 23.7 per cent. The rate in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was 21.3 per cent, 18.3 per cent and 20.5 per cent, respectively."
The unemployment rate for post-graduates is also similarly high but it has not deteriorated since 2016 when it was 24.6 per cent. In 2017 it rose to 25.4 per cent, then fell to 22.3 per cent and rose again to 23 per cent in 2019. "An overall unemployment rate of around 7.5 per cent does not reflect the real challenges faced by India. Graduates between 20 and 29 years of age, face a much higher unemployment rate of 42.8 per cent. This is India’s real challenge. An equally important challenge is that graduates of all ages put together also have a very high unemployment rate of 18.5 per cent," wrote Vyas.