ILO Report Examines India’s Youth Employment Landscape

Source – India Employment Report 2024

A new report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) dives deep into the issue of youth employment in India. Titled “India Employment Report 2024“, the report explores how India’s economy, job market, education system, and skill development landscape have evolved over the past two decades, particularly in relation to youth employment challenges. 

India faces challenges in capitalizing on its demographic dividend. Despite rising education levels, a skills mismatch between young people and available jobs leads to unemployment. A significant portion of youth, especially young women, are outside education, employment, or training. Technological advancements further complicate the situation by demanding new skillsets in the labor market.

Here are some of the key takeaways on the challenges related to youth employment in India:

The Paradox of Rising Education and Skill Mismatch: Educational attainment among youths has grown significantly, but a large portion remains unemployed or underemployed. This is due to a mismatch between the skills demanded by the job market and the skills young people are equipped with. Youths often lack the specific industry-relevant skills or experience employers seek, despite having degrees. This mismatch is particularly stark for highly educated graduates, leading to overqualification and a longer job search period.

The Grip of Informal Work and Low Wages: India’s job market is dominated by the informal sector, characterized by low wages, precarious work conditions, and lack of social security benefits. Youths are heavily concentrated in this sector, particularly in casual labor or unpaid family work (especially young women in rural areas). This offers limited opportunities for career growth and decent livelihoods. Even for those with some education, decent formal jobs remain scarce.

Stagnant Growth and the Challenge of Job Creation: While the economy has grown, employment growth, especially for youths, has been stagnant or declining. This is partly due to a shift towards capital-intensive production methods, requiring fewer workers. Additionally, sectors like manufacturing haven’t expanded job opportunities as rapidly as expected. This lack of job creation creates fierce competition for a limited number of openings, further pushing youths towards low-quality informal work.

Uneven Demographic Dividend and Regional Disparities: India is poised to benefit from a demographic dividend with a large working-age population. However, this advantage is unevenly distributed across states. Youths in poorer regions, particularly those with a high potential demographic advantage, often face lower educational attainment, limited access to quality skills training, and fewer formal job opportunities. This exacerbates regional disparities in youth employment outcomes.

Inadequate Skilling Initiatives and Shortcomings in Education: While skills development initiatives exist, they haven’t adequately addressed the skills gap. Limited training uptake due to cost, relevance concerns, and lack of awareness are some issues. Additionally, spatial imbalances leave youths in poorer regions with fewer training opportunities. The education system also faces challenges, with high drop-out rates and concerns about the quality of education impacting youths’ employability skills.

These challenges highlight the complexities surrounding youth employment in India. Addressing these issues requires a multi-pronged approach involving education reforms, improved skill development initiatives, and policies that promote job creation in high-growth sectors, particularly in economically disadvantaged regions. 

You can read the full report here! 

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