Youth Labour Market in India: Education, Employment, and Sustainable Development Goals

Youth Labour Market in India: Education, Employment, and Sustainable Development Goals

Nitin Bisht, Falguni Pattanaik
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2779-5.ch009
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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 prioritizes active engagement of youth in achieving the targets. Aligning the pathway towards achieving youth specific SDGs (Target 4.4 and 8.5), the study examines the current situation of the youth labour market in India. For this purpose, the study analyzes National Sample Survey data on employment and unemployment from 50th round (1993/94) to 68th round (2011/12). The study engages trend analysis of key indicators of labour market. Logistic regression is applied to address the magnitude of socio-economic and demographic determinants on youth employment. The study finds an overall decline in the employment status of youth despite the ongoing demographic dividend phase. Postgraduate and graduate youth witness the highest unemployment indicating a grim role of labour market in engaging the educated youth. The findings raise concern for achieving the targets of SDGs, as a high share of educated youth strives for decent and gainful employment.
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United Nation (UN) identifies youth as the key agents of change, serving as a guiding force in achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030. The targets of SDGs revolves around the active participation of youth and promote investment in youth human capital. The active participation is ensured through the youth specific target no. 4.4 and 8.5 of the SDGs respectively. These targets strictly focus on increasing the enrollment of youth in educational institutions, enhancement of technical skills and creating full-time employment opportunities. Although, these targets prioritizes youth role in development yet unemployment among the youth remains a major challenge for both the developed and developing countries. ILO (2017) highlights that, the youth faces major setback in the labour market despite of continuously improving economic scenario across the nations.

The instability of youth labour market is highlighted by its dual nature where on one side youth stay in education for a longer duration, depicting a decline in youth labour force participation. On the other side, youth in the labour market face substantial challenges in finding decent employment and results in high unemployment rate. The lower level of employment opportunities and stiff competition of labour market, force youth towards informal employment where regular wage, job stability, social security and quality of work remains an uphill task. The assumption of a significant relationship between the education level and employment does not hold valid in case of youth labour market in India. Despite of higher education youth lack work experience and are treated as newbies in the labour market. The increasing youth unemployment has become one of the primary challenges facing most countries of the world where India is not an exception. Aligning with the fast pace of population growth, India is experiencing an unprecedented demographic shift leading to a youth bulge. Youth aged 15-29 years represent highest (27.5 percent) share in the total population of India (Census of India, 2011) and highlights the ongoing ‘Demographic Dividend’ phase of the country. To reap from this dividend the country needs to empower, educate and employ their younger population. The increasing growth of GDP in the post liberalization period indicates the strengthening of Indian economy, witnessing a stable soaring figure of economic growth in the post-liberalization era for nearly three decades. However, the structural transformation of the country in the post-liberalization era does not seem to create ample employment opportunities for the younger population. The meager employment growth depicts the sluggishness in terms of job creation especially during the period 2004/05 to 2011/12. This indicates the limited capacity of Indian labour market to generate the employment opportunities. The picture becomes more awful in case of youth employment where due to lack of work experience younger people are forced to work on low wage rate remaining underemployed for most of the time. Unlike the economic growth, youth labour market lags stability in terms of employment generation. The ‘jobless growth’ of Indian economy contradicts the postulate that the functionality of labour market largely depends on the economic strength of the country. Moreover, the structural transformation of the country resulted in the evolution of dual labour market characterized by the poor working conditions. The existing scenario of youth labour market in India highlights the lower level of youth inclusivity in the economic growth process of the country.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Labour Force: Person currently employed or available for work or seeking employment.

Work Force: Person who contribute in the economic growth by remaining engaged in any gainful or productive activity of employment.

Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET): The vulnerable section of youth who remains disengaged from the labour market.

Unemployed: Person seeking for work through advertisements or employment exchange office but have not been able to do involve in the work force due to lack of employment opportunity.

Demographic Dividend: Phase of economy when the share of working age population is higher than the non-working population. The term was coined by David Bloom while owing the success of East Asian Tiger countries to their young work force.

Self-Employed: Person who work on his own or family run farm or an enterprise.

Decent Work: Conceptualized by the International Labour Organization with a view to respect the human values and ethics of labour. Majorly represent equitability in employment opportunities.

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