In 2014 the BJP-led tiol Democratic Alliance (NDA) stormed to power at the Centre unseating the Congress with the backdrop of huge fall in economic activity and non-creation of jobs. One of the most prominent promises of Prime Minister rendra Modi was that his government will create 10 million jobs every year. To achieve this herculean target, Mr Modi set up a new ministry med Skill Development to enhance the employability chances of unemployed youth. A sizeable fund was also earmarked to build up skill development centres across the country to train youths on different job oriented courses. The move was in line with Prime Minister Modi’s vision to introduce skill-based education for students in the country. The Prime Minister’s Skill Development Mission set up an ambitious target and skill development centres mushroomed all across the country. However, how successful the initiative has been three years after it was launched needs a proper verification and alysis. India has world’s largest young population within the age group of 20-35 years. It is a demographic dividend but the huge rate of unemployment, especially among educated youths, is a burning issue which has the potential to turn the demographic dividend into a disaster. One of the strong criticisms the Modi government faces is that despite the uptick in economy after years of sluggishness, the government has not been able to produce enough jobs for youths. India needs nearly 1 lakh jobs every month. But in last three years, the creation of job avenues has been nothing to write home about. And after demonitisation and introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST), many companies have put their hiring plans into deep freeze.
Meanwhile, creation of jobs in government sector remains very tepid. Public sector banks and the Railways, both hitherto large recruiters, have also downsized their requirements. In such a scerio, the government needs to find an altertive avenue of employability of youths. Very rightly, when NDA rode back to power piggybacking mainly on youth sentiment, it tried to find a solution to the raging unemployment issue by addressing the core issue of skill set. However, it needs to be said that the Skill Development Mission which was launched with much fanfare failed to achieve its desired goal and got mired into bureaucratic red-tapism. This is testified by the fact that Prime Minister Modi in his latest cabinet reshuffle removed Rajiv Pratap Rudy from the Skill Development Ministry reportedly for lacklustre performance. However, in recent times, various state governments on their own initiative have started to push skill development and vocatiol courses in the curriculum. A few days back, the Assam government instructed all the universities to mandatorily include skill development, vocatiol and professiol courses in their curriculum. The Directorate of Higher Education has reportedly issued a directive to the Registrars of all varsities in the State, asking them to redesign their existing undergraduate courses by incorporating skill development and professiol courses as an essential component. In Assam, some colleges are conducting skill development programmes but it’s not mandatory. The basic idea is that by introducing skill development courses in the syllabi, a student can be made job-ready on passing graduation or higher secondary level. But to realise this effort fully, the State government needs to provide schools with all the necessary infrastructure needed to train students in a real, stimulating environment. Otherwise, all these will remain a mere cacophony with no real intent to achieve the goal. In fact, it is the need of the hour for skill-based education system which could train the burgeoning youth population for the very rapidly changing, competitive job market.
Unemployment has been one of the biggest problems facing Assam and imparting modern skills to youths can eradicate it to a large extent. Lack of expertise among our youths means that we have to bring even semi-skilled workers from other States for working in major projects like Gas Cracker in Lepetkata. We need to change the pattern of education and put more emphasis on skill development. Both high and semi-skilled workforce is in great demand and the State must be able to produce a pool of skilled manpower to cater to the needs of various sectors At 12.13 percent, J&K has the highest unemployment rate in India in 2017, according to the data compiled by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy in collaboration with Bombay Stock Exchange. The other States with high unemployment rates are Kerala (9.6%), Assam (8.6%), Chandigarh (8.05%) and Harya (7.16%). The tiol unemployment average is 4.7 percent. The three States with lowest unemployment rate are Uttar Pradesh (1.35%), Madhya Pradesh (2.4%) and Kartaka (2.42%). So Assam is on top of the list when it comes to unemployment and the problem can only be solved if educated youths are equipped with proper skill set when they enter the competitive job market.