As the fastest growing economy today, India is home to a fifth of the world’s youth. Half of its population of 1.3 billion is below the age of 25, and a quarter is below the age of 14.
The World Economic Forum and the Observer Research Foundation recently collaboratively conducted a survey of more than 5,000 youth in India.
- Indian youth are independent, optimistic and open to a changing labour market
The influence of family and peers on the career and educational choices of India’s youth is in decline. Young people are increasingly seeking productive employment opportunities and career paths that reflect their individual aspirations. Moreover, a third of the respondents report being interested in entrepreneurship, and 63% report being highly or moderately interested in supplementing their income with gig work.
- Indian youth need more guidance and career counselling
Many youth report facing multiple barriers to finding desirable and suitable job opportunities. Factors like information asymmetries on jobs and skills, and lack of guidance for setting realistic career goals and making professional choices, are holding back young Indians. 51% of respondents report that a lack of information about available job opportunities that match their skill sets is a significant barrier. Around 30% report a lack of access to any kind of counselling or mentoring opportunities. 44% of respondents view this as the most important factor in the demand-supply mismatch.
- Young Indians are interested in pursuing higher education and skills development
84% of respondents consider a post-graduate degree as a requirement for their ideal job, while 97% aspire to a degree in higher education. They are also keen on other forms of ongoing education, with 76% of youth reporting that they are very interested in participating in a skills development programme. Increased employment opportunities and higher wages are the main motivators for this goal.
- The private sector must do more to bridge the skills gap
The private sector needs to play a more active role in enhancing the capabilities and skills of India’s youth. India is faced with a paradox: there is significant youth unemployment, and yet the private sector bemoans a lack of adequately skilled and market-ready workers. Notwithstanding the government’s role in providing basic education and training, there is a significant need for greater private sector involvement. This will ensure that training initiatives are demand-driven and impart skills that match industry requirements.
- India’s socio-cultural norms add further complexity
34% of the surveyed youth report that discriminatory and personal biases related to their marital status, gender, age or family background are a major barrier when looking for a job. 82% of female respondents said their ideal employment would be full-time, disproving the stereotype that women prefer part-time jobs. Similarly, despite the persistent view that household work and unpaid work are suitable and desirable for women, only 1% of surveyed female youth report this as being a desirable option for them.
- Social Media and the internet can play a bigger role in effective job-hunting
81% of survey respondents rely on media and internet sources for obtaining information about employment opportunities. The prevalence of social media and internet use among India’s youth presents an opportunity to expand their awareness about education pathways, employment opportunities, skill needs, and available skill development programmes.