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March 29, 2024

The Paradox of Education and Unemployment: ILO Report Reveals Stark Reality for Young Indians

In a startling revelation, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has unearthed a disconcerting truth about the Indian job market: higher education does not necessarily guarantee employment for the country’s youth. According to recent data from the ILO, educated young Indians are more likely to be unemployed than their less educated counterparts, painting a grim picture of the nation’s labor landscape.

The statistics paint a stark reality: with a jobless rate of 29.1 percent, graduates in India face an unemployment crisis almost nine times higher than those who lack basic literacy skills, standing at a mere 3.4 percent. Even individuals with secondary education or higher face daunting odds, with an unemployment rate six times higher than their less educated peers, at 18.4 percent.

The ILO report emphasizes that youth unemployment in India is not just a passing phase but a deep-rooted problem, especially among those with a secondary level of education or higher. This trend has only worsened over time, signaling a distressing mismatch between the skills possessed by the workforce and the demands of the job market.

Renowned economists like former central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan have long warned about the detrimental effects of India’s inadequate education system on its economic future. The prevailing situation underscores these concerns, highlighting the urgent need for reforms in the education sector to align with the evolving demands of the job market.

Distressingly, the gender gap exacerbates the issue, with women bearing the brunt of unemployment. The ILO data reveals that women constitute a staggering 76.7 percent of educated unemployed youth, significantly higher than the 62.2 percent of men. Moreover, urban areas grapple with higher unemployment rates compared to rural regions, further deepening the socioeconomic divide.

India’s abysmally low female labor force participation rate, standing at around 25 percent, adds another layer of complexity to the unemployment conundrum. While there was a slight improvement during the pandemic due to a surge in subsistence employment, the overarching challenges persist, necessitating comprehensive policy interventions to empower women in the workforce.

The emergence of the gig economy, characterized by temporary and low-paying jobs, poses additional challenges to India’s labor market dynamics. Platforms offering gig jobs, such as food delivery services, have blurred the lines between traditional employment models, posing new challenges to the well-being and working conditions of workers. The ILO report underscores the urgent need for regulatory frameworks to safeguard the rights of gig workers and ensure fair labor practices in the digital age.

As India grapples with the formidable task of revitalizing its economy post-pandemic, addressing the underlying issues of education, gender disparities, and the changing nature of work is paramount. The findings of the ILO report serve as a clarion call for policymakers, educators, and stakeholders to collaborate in forging a more inclusive and resilient labor market that empowers the country’s youth and fosters sustainable economic growth.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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