Despite the annual rise in Indian jobless figures, employers now find themselves faced with the apparent paradox of increasing difficulty in recruiting talent with role-specific expertise—revealing a deepening crisis affecting every sector nationwide.
But whilst the urgent need to up-skill the population has been recognised by the government alongside the publication of concerning figures—a 2013 unemployment rate of 9.9%, an increase of 5% from 2012, and a new labour ministry survey reporting that one in three Indian graduates is unemployed despite an increase in education levels—there is a potential solution that has remained absent from discussions in India: role-relevant assessments, qualifications and certification.
The ManpowerGroup’s “Break the Crisis and Complacency Cycle” report makes grim reading, with 48% of Indian employers surveyed in 2012 having difficulty filling vacant jobs, putting the nation seventh out of 42 countries in terms of the severity of the problem faced. The global context is bleak: the world’s jobless population rose by 4 million in 2012 to 197 million, a figure set to increase by 8.1 million by 2014. The number of low-skilled jobs in Europe may fall by 12 million by 2020, while the number of high-skilled jobs will increase by 16 million.
While India’s record in significantly reducing poverty and improving crucial human development indicators such as levels of literacy, education and health has been remarkable, National Service Scheme data (61st round) indicates that of the individuals in the labour force aged 15-29, only 2% received formal vocational training and 8% non-formal vocational training.
With so many people available for work but lacking the right skills to perform, governments have been backing vocational training. Educators are devising new programmes to up-skill the unemployed and technologists are providing greater innovations with more blended and mobile learning. The solution may begin, rather than end, with training.
There have been positive developments in India. The government has set itself the task of creating a skilled workforce of 500 million by 2022 and a National Skill Development Council was also created. In February 2012, the HRD ministry launched the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF). According to the ministry, the NVEQF is necessary as the Indian workforce is mostly represented in the informal sector, estimated at 93%. Suffering from low levels of literacy and numeracy, there was no bridge for these workers to enter the formal economy. Policies and programmes of national importance are laudable, but there is a need for certification, a