Clash of Aspirations: India’s Youth Can Give the Country an Edge If They Get the Jobs, They Desire


07:45 AM

1 min read

Why in news?

  • India is at an inflection point, with rapid economic growth positioning it as a potential counterweight to China on the global stage.
  • However, there are numerous headwinds to India's ambitions, particularly in terms of employment and the labour market.
  • Therefore, it is important to examine the current economic situation in India, highlighting both its potential as an economic powerhouse and the significant challenges it faces in achieving this status.

India’s Labour Market Challenges

  • High Unemployment Rates
    • India has a relatively high overall unemployment rate of around 8%, which is concerning for a country with a large young population entering the workforce annually.
    • Unemployment rates are particularly high among younger workers, especially those aged 20-24 years, with a reported rate of 44%.
    • This suggests a substantial mismatch between the skills young people possess and the jobs available to them.
    • Unemployment rates are also high among graduates (29%) and those with secondary or higher education (18%). This is indicative of a disconnect between the education system and the labour market.
  • Small and Low-Productivity Firms
    • Indian firms tend to be smaller and grow more slowly compared to firms in other emerging economies like China and Mexico. Small firms often struggle with limited resources and face challenges in scaling up their operations.
    • The low productivity of many Indian firms limits their ability to demand a large workforce and offer competitive wages. This, in turn, affects overall employment rates and economic growth.
  • Skill Deficit
    • Employers, especially in the white-collar service sector, often struggle to find workers with the requisite skills.
    • This is due to gaps in the education system and vocational training.
    • The quality of education in India has been a longstanding issue, with students often lacking the necessary training and practical experience needed for the modern workforce.
    • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) highlights issues in student learning and skill acquisition.
  • Geographic Mismatch
    • Many employment opportunities are concentrated in urban areas, far from the rural regions where a large portion of the population resides.
    • This geographic mismatch presents challenges for workers who must migrate to urban centres for work.
    • Migration can be costly both financially and socially, and may lead to a disconnect between the aspirations of workers and the opportunities available to them.
  • Gig Economy and Job Security
    • The rise of the gig economy has provided some opportunities, but these jobs often lack stability and security, leading to uncertain incomes and limited benefits.
    • The quality of available jobs is a concern, with many positions offering low pay, inadequate benefits, and limited opportunities for career advancement.
  • Policy and Regulatory Challenges
    • Policy and regulatory challenges can hinder the growth of firms and the creation of new jobs. Complex regulations and bureaucratic hurdles can stifle entrepreneurship and business expansion.
    • India's labour laws can be restrictive and may not align with modern employment practices, creating challenges for firms seeking to hire and manage workers efficiently.

Clash of Aspirations in India’s Labour Market

  • Worker Aspirations
    • Education and Skills
      • India's young workforce is more educated than previous generations, with many holding high school or college degrees.
      • This increased educational attainment leads to higher aspirations for career opportunities and job quality.
    • High Expectations
      • Young workers expect jobs that offer good salaries, stability, career growth, and opportunities for skill development.
      • They are also influenced by India's overall economic growth and its potential as a global economic power.
    • Mismatch with Available Jobs
      • Despite their education and skills, young workers often find that the jobs available to them do not match their expectations in terms of pay, job security, and career prospects.
      • This can lead to frustration and disillusionment.
  • Entrepreneur and Firm Aspirations
    • Limited Growth Ambitions
      • Many Indian entrepreneurs and firms have limited ambitions for growth, often choosing to remain small.
      • This may be due to a variety of factors, including regulatory and tax challenges, risk aversion, and a lack of resources.
    • Risk-Averse Behaviour
      • Small entrepreneurs may prioritise stability over expansion, choosing to avoid the risks associated with scaling up their operations.
      • This can limit their ability to compete in global markets and create high-quality jobs.
    • Domestic Market Focus
      • Some firms focus primarily on serving the domestic market, which can limit their growth potential and competitiveness compared to firms that export.
      • This domestic focus may also discourage innovation and productivity improvements.
  • Diverging Paths
    • Lack of Suitable Employment Opportunities
      • The limited ambitions of firms and entrepreneurs result in fewer suitable employment opportunities for young workers with high aspirations.
      • This mismatch can lead to underemployment and dissatisfaction among the workforce.
    • Impact on Economic Growth
      • The clash of aspirations can hinder India's economic growth by creating a labour market that fails to fully harness the potential of its young, educated population.

Ways Ahead to Address the Challenges in India's Labour Market and Unlock its Full Potential

  • Demographic Dividend: Enhancing Education and Skills Development
    • Aligning educational curriculum with industry needs can help ensure that students acquire relevant skills and knowledge for the job market.
    • Expanding vocational training and apprenticeship programs can provide hands-on experience and job-specific skills to young workers.
    • Encouraging continuous skill development and retraining throughout workers' careers can help them adapt to changing job market demands.
  • Promoting Firm Growth and Productivity
    • Providing easier access to credit and financial resources can help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) expand and hire more workers.
    • Encouraging firms to adopt new technologies and innovate can increase productivity and competitiveness, leading to job creation and economic growth.
    • Simplifying business regulations and reducing bureaucratic hurdles can facilitate firm growth and encourage entrepreneurship.
  • Reforming Labor Laws and Job Protections
    • Implementing more flexible labour policies can help firms adjust their workforce according to market demands, promoting job creation and economic resilience.
    • Ensuring fair and adequate job protections for workers can increase job satisfaction and stability.


  • While India’s demographic dividend offers significant potential, the country must address the challenges in its labour market to fully capitalise on this opportunity.

By creating a more ambitious and competitive entrepreneurial environment and ensuring a skilled workforce, India can transform its demographic dividend into sustained economic growth and establish itself as a major global economic player. 

Q) What is the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE)?

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) is an independent economic think tank based in Mumbai, India. It is renowned for its extensive databases, economic research, and analysis covering various aspects of the Indian economy, including employment, industry, agriculture, and consumer sentiments.

Q) What kind of data does CMIE provide?

CMIE's monthly unemployment surveys provide insights into the employment situation in India. It offers data on industrial production, manufacturing, and sector-specific performance. CMIE provides information on agricultural output, prices, and rural economy dynamics. It tracks consumer sentiment through surveys, offering insights into consumer behaviour and economic sentiment trends.

Source:The Indian Express