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Educated Unemployment in India : The Terror of Graduates produced each Year.

From Universities to the streets, lies the story of about 3500 graduates from Tamil Nadu in 2019, who due to lack of jobs in the industry, had to apply for sweeping jobs. Along with them are around 20,000 candidates who applied with their M. Tech degrees for the posts of watchmen, office assistants and drivers in Bihar & a total of 7,000 engineers, graduates and diploma-holders who applied for 549 posts of sanitary workers in the city Corporation in Coimbatore in 2019. These youths constitute a smaller part of a huge population that comes under the criteria of “Educated Unemployment”. 


Educated unemployment, in simple words, is not finding a job in a particular industry despite holding a relevant degree and willing to work at industry standard wages/salaries. Indian youth unemployment is one of the biggest concerns and one of the most widely discussed issues, yet it has hardly seen any resolution. Training for us Indians is about completing schools and colleges. But we don’t understand this is not it. 


It’s not the amount of years you ‘re spending in schools or universities, that will give you a career. What matters is the standard of the education and skills gained over these years. Most of our childhood and youth is spent in mugging up textbooks and very less in practical understanding and acquiring skills.

According to a report, almost 2 million graduates and half a million post graduates are unemployed in India. Around 47% graduates in India are not suitable for any kind of industry role. Above all, the level of educated unemployment in India increases with higher education. 

While, at the primary level, youth unemployment is somewhere around 3.6%, it is 8% at graduate level and 9.3% at postgraduate level.

India’s Employment Crisis: Rising Education Levels and Falling non-agricultural job growth, co-authored by Santosh Mehrotra and Jajati K Parida, reports a highest-ever unemployment peak of 8.8% in 2017-18, up from 3% in 2011-12. Most disconcertingly, joblessness among educated youth went up nearly 2X from 6.1% in 2011-12 to 17.8% in 2017-18 across the board.


According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE:2018-19) there are 993 Universities, 39931 Colleges and 10725 Stand Alone Institutions with total enrolment in higher education estimated to be 37.4 million with 19.2 million male and 18.2 million female. 

As many as 406 million of 1.2 billion Indians were employed as of December 2019. And the unemployment rate was pegged at 7.1% in January 2020. But this joblessness is hitting the youth the most.

 Pramod Kumar, 30, who belongs to another backward caste (OBC), is a BTech from a reputed engineering college of Bhopal but faced with unemployment, he has now applied for the post of a driver under group-D in the Bihar secretariat.

22-year old S Vignesh, who completed mechanical engineering from a private college in 2018, applied for a sweeper’s post as he couldn’t find any other job, with a family to feed.

The jobs crisis among educated youth has often been described as a ticking time bomb, given that half of India’s 1.3 billion population is below the age of 25.

In fact, over the past six years 13 million women have been leaving the labor market. Some of the reasons for this are social expectations, increasing family wealth and a lack of good opportunities. A sizable gender wage gap just makes matters worse. Indeed, the employment rate of Indian women in labor is currently among the lowest in the world.


Let us have a look at some of the major reasons for educated unemployment in India:


  1. Low Institution/University Standards
    When we equate our educational institutions with those in other developed nations, we get an understanding of our deficiencies. The root of youth unemployment lies in obsolete curriculum, inadequate teaching facilities, lack of adequate infrastructure, to name a few. Students are not educated to meet the economy ‘s needs, or to grasp the topic to the core, but to cram the syllabus and get the right grades. For others, the new education system has become a way of doing business. The fees are sky-rocketing, although the quality of the education remains below par.


Although it is important to increase the number of institutes in any given region in light of increasing population, the standard of these institutes has never been touched upon. In India, the increasing number of institutes means only compromising educational quality, probably due to a lack of monetary resources and funding.


2. Lack of right skills
One of the major reasons for youth unemployment in India is the lack of appropriate skills. It is very important to equip oneself with the requisite skill set and to concentrate on competency in order to be prepared for working in any industry. However, most youth today lack the adequate skills required by a job specification.

A very high number of graduates do not have strong English communication skills as required.  When we talk about skills, primary education plays a major role. At elementary level it is important to concentrate on basic skills such as communication and language.


3. Unawareness about what jobs and skills are or will be in demand.
The key hurdle reported was a lack of knowledge and understanding. Youth simply don’t know what professions and skills are in demand or will be in the future. The information skewness comes with no career support from within the educational system.

With a majority of the youth identifying lack of knowledge on best-fit work skills as their greatest obstacle, some of the youth reported non-existent mentoring or apprenticeship opportunities. 


4. Job opportunity & qualification mismatch
In India, low wages are at the threshold of educated unemployment. India’s best colleges and institutes have failed to provide jobs that could pay decently.

A study says 48% of urban youth are faced with the question of having an acceptable job. 38% of those employed are dissatisfied. It also indicates a lack of decent working practices and work environment.

Lack of decent remuneration has been widely documented in the media, especially in the field of engineering and legal studies. That serves as an obstacle for many job seeking students. They turn their back on the right chance of knocking at their doors, leaving them idle.


5. Population
Talking about the youth population and youth unemployment in India, India sees an 8-9 per cent rise in higher education enrolment per year, according to a source. India has the largest number of students going to the universities among the top 5 nations. The problem here is that the number of opportunities doesn’t increase equivalently.

Graduate production is higher than there is demand. This gap is especially growing in times of recession, as it is difficult for businesses and organisations to cope with the declining economy , resulting in employee lay-offs, far less recruiting new ones.


6. Job creators, not job seekers are becoming prominent
Some part of this lack of paid employment reflects the rising ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ in India as well. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said during a budget speech that these entrepreneurs are not work seekers but ‘job creators.’

Such businesses are projected to expand beyond only a ‘scale of self-employment.’ The count of self-employed people has shot up from 33 million in 2016 to 56 million in 2019, which is 23 million. Their share of total employment in 2019 has risen to almost 14 per cent.



The current state of affairs in terms of unemployment of graduates and post graduates is a two-edged knife. Because of a lack of suitable work and obsolete or non-existent skillsets, a significant chunk of youth is in limbo and out of the labor market. 

Yet Indian youth also constitute an economic powerhouse — an unprecedented ‘demographic dividend’ in which almost more than fifty percent of the total population is under the age of 25.

Employment and unemployment in India have always been the subject of discussion for both the government and intellectuals. Employment in itself comes with some of its own problems, such as lack of decent working conditions, workplace bullying, lack of proper remuneration etc.

Though there are laws in India that concentrate on jobs and unemployment, we have hardly seen any implementation. Regulation of salaries, making the private sector more structured, fixing fees for educational institutes are, inter alia, some ways to manage it when it comes to educated unemployment in India.

Above everything, educational quality should be the pillar of government and people alike. It is time we took more seriously the Skill development program initiated by the ruling government.

Training skills and vocational education must go hand in hand with mainstream education, which must become multidimensional in itself in order to allow young minds to become lifelong learners. ‘Skills’ and ‘Employability’ should become the new avenues for paving a value-added modern Indian education.

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