With little growth in private jobs, government employment remained the only option. Skills the youth possess are not what the industry needs, and private higher education is beyond the rural students’ reach. Result: rampant unemployment, drug addiction.
Ruchika M. Khanna, Tribune News Service
India pins much hope on its young demographic profile, expecting to take on the world with cutting-edge human resource, but Punjab — once at the forefront of development in the country — has failed to capitalise this asset.
In fact, the condition of the youth has become a blot of sorts on the state, which has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of unemployment and drug addiction in the country, besides witnessing mass migration of youth to greener pastures abroad.
Though the unemployment or underemployment has more to do with the near collapse of the once-robust economy of Punjab, successive governments in the state have also failed to provide any fresh avenues for jobs by attracting large industrial investment.
The only jobs on offer for the young in recent years have been in the government sector, where the numbers are too few to count.
With the education system in the state — school, college, technical as well as university education — failing to keep pace with the needs of the industry, most big industrial houses in Ludhiana and Jalandhar have been unable to find the required skill sets among Punjabi youth. The majority of them thus hire their workforce from outside the state. It is not uncommon to find Punjabi youth with degrees in engineering or business management accepting clerical jobs in private companies.
Though not sufficient, the government did make efforts towards developing the education sector, facilitating the opening of three new universities. It set up 13 new colleges in backward and rural areas, besides other institutes.
Several welfare schemes, such as the Mai Bhago Vidya Scheme, were also introduced to promote education among girls, who were also given bicycles in Classes XI and XII to contain their dropout rate. However, not much was done to improve the course curriculum either in schools or colleges.
While there are no verified figures available, it is estimated that nearly 70 per cent of the youth in the state are unemployed or underemployed. The number of unemployed youth is put at 25 lakh. There is also a large population of people who are past the age of being called “youth”, but are still unemployed.
This huge chunk of young and restless unemployed population is also considered to be a factor behind social ills such as drug addiction and the practice of seeking dowry.
SAD manifesto check
- Vacancies in government sector filled.
- Opening of higher-education institutes such Indian Institute of Technology (Ropar) and Indian School of Business (Mohali) facilitated.
- Promotion of sports by building stadiums, encouraging games such as kabbadi to keep youth off drugs.
- Colleges opened in rural and backward areas.
- Foreign collaborations for quality education for joint degrees in various courses.
- Education for employment in the IT sector through bridge courses in rural areas.
- Training in latest skills to semi-employed workers and youth.