DC Edit | Weak jobs scene a wakeup call

The report on India employment tells a very grim story on the jobs scenario. There is no doubt that India is still by far the fastest growing economy in the world and will remain so for the next few years. Whether that would translate into creating jobs for about seven lakh young people who will be adding to the workforce each year is the point to ponder.

The report by the Institute for Human Development by the International Labour Organisation pinpoints the fact that nearly 83 per cent of India’s youth are unemployed, or underemployed and, startlingly, the unemployment among the educated youth is the highest.

The former Reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan, who made an impact as an economist by predicting the 2008 meltdown, might sound like Cassandra when he points to the biggest problem that Indian society may face in the future if the jobs scenario worsens over time. His warnings carry weight though the last Periodic Labour Force Survey report for 2022-23 shows a decrease in the unemployment rate.

Considering that the very nature of jobs is fast changing in an increasingly computer-driven world soon to be dominated even more by the application of Artificial Intelligence that may eliminate repetitive human jobs altogether, India needs to bring a radically different policy thrust for quality education and skills training of youth if they are to gear up for the future.

It should hardly matter who rules so long as the future of youth is tended to and the best way to exploit the so-called Indian demographic advantage is to generate jobs that do not just offer a livelihood but are also sufficiently rewarding to offer satisfactory lives to increasingly aspirational youth. Agriculture-based rural jobs at which 148 million Indians worked (in 2023) are clearly not going to pass the test of creating conditions for fulfilling lives for the coming generations.

A shortage of work opportunities for women is another major area that needs to be addressed lest the gender imbalance affect the social fabric. It is fine to gear up for a technologically-driven future by offering sops for making semiconductors, but the task of addressing unemployment, underemployment and more jobs for women is a pressing one.

Policy planners need to wake up and not take solace in unemployment statistics that can be skewed because almost 82 per cent of the workforce is engaged in the informal sector.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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