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SPEAKERS' CORNER Youth unemployment: which are your impressions at local level?

Youth unemployment: which are your impressions at local level?

Do you agree that youth unemployment is a major cause of social and political instability or not?

(Read more at:Social Inclusion of Youth, Thematic brief byAlessio Lupi. Available on IESF (En, Es, Fr)


Where youth are idle with little perspective for decent employment it is possible that it can lead to their unrest. Not all youth will go in a direction that negtively affects stability but all youth deserve a chance to grow and develop their minds and bodies positively.

It is largely true Mei. In Kenya and Africa by extension, unemployed youth are largely idle and taking into consideration that they are anergetic and have their needs which they cannot meet without resources of their own, they easily engage in crime and durg abuse. Although most of them would be from the poor backgrounds, those from well off families are no exeption either as their familieis cannot give them all they need. In addition, such youth are easily taken advantage of by the political class who pay them cheap handouts for political ends including acts of electoral crime. 

Definately, when young people are idle there is a high chance of political and social instability wherever they are. They are at an age where they are most active and they need to be busy. As the saying goes "an idle mind is the devils workshop". The 'haves' (rich,drug lords politicians) will then take advantage of the 'have nots' (idle , mostly poor youth). I agree with Michael the abuse of drugs is on the increase amongst idle youth as they are readily and cheaply available and once they get them hooked they know they have a permanent client who will do anything (e.g. crime) to ensure they feed the habit. These drug lords know that they have brisk business in countries like Zimbabwe where we do not have rehabilitation centers.  This is quite sad because this is the next generation and we are 'killing them softly'.

La generación de empleo en general es un problema que atinge a Bolivia, se genera fuentes de empleos eventuales y mal remunerados. La gran masa de jóvenes solo logra acceder a subempleos que se generan en el ámbito de servicios como son las ventas y servicio al cliente, que se caracterizan por contratos verbales de 89 días con salarios menores al Salario Minimo Nacional (SMN) y en el mejor de los casos se logra el SMN. Hay mucha rotación en estos empleos para no generar obligaciones para la parte empresarial.

En derecho se dice que “La necesidad es la madre de los vicios” y esa máxima se logra cumplir en nuestro medio ya que la cantidad de jóvenes con necesidades insatisfechas como el acceso a los centros de formación superior o intermedia, hacen que se dediquen a delinquir con mayor facilidad, caen en redes de alcoholismo y drogadicción, a redes de vandalismo y criminalidad, todo por satisfacer sus necesidades inmediatas.

Es marcada la necesidad de generar programas de apoyo a la formación técnica y generación de empleo, como FAUTAPO se trabajó hasta la gestión 2015 con el Programa de Formación Técnica Laboral para Jóvenes Bachilleres (cierre obligado por falta de financiamiento externo, pese a los buenos resultados), el desafío fue transferido a los Gobiernos Municipales, esperando que se siga con su ejecución. Otra experiencia de apoyo a este sector tan vulnerable es la creación de los Centros de Jóvenes y Empleo (CJE), que sirve como una instancia de orientación vocacional (tours del empleo), bolsa de trabajo, orientación en emplebilidad y emprendedurismo.

En general se nota muy poco interés por parte del Gobierno en sus tres niveles (Nacional, Departamental y Municipal) y cada vez hay menos financiamiento externo para este sector lo que hace más vulnerable al sector juvenil.

Vocational Education and Skills Training in itself does not create employment. While some may have the entrepreneurial spirit to become succesfull business people a majority of graduates will be looking  for a job. As 90% of employment is created by the private sector it is essential that TVET becomes responsive to labour market demand and the private sector is fully recognised as the key stakeholder in VET systems. There is nothing more frustrating than to have spent years in education only to find out that your skills are not in demand.

So very true, this is one of the main problems with TVET. There are too many trainings conducted in subjects with no or little correspondence to labour market demands. India is working on improving this through a concerted system of efforts to conduct relevant surveys, establish training commissions, training centers, etc.

You are quite right Mei. Let's hope with all these initatives India able to fulfill its goal of being the 'knowledge capital' of the world.

Jean, I am partly agreeing with you on the point that more persons/youths (or trained graduates) would opt for wage employment than to start their own business for a variety of reasons and hence, link VET training to industry/private sector/market/ demand. However, the realities of developing (or underdeveloped) economies like India is not entirely based on this fact. Rather, I will argue that by providing increasing emphasis on wage employment driven VET, we will (a) further accentuate the problem of 'unemployment' and 'under-employment' of similar types that is existing today – given the fact that job potential in manufacturing sector and ‘traditional’ service sector are not enough (and job scope for VET graduates in ‘modern’ services sector is ‘minimal’ as  they tend to prefer highly educated) and (b) create a disadvantageous situations for those who don’t prefer to migrate out from rural-agro based livelihoods to non-farm jobs in towns/cities and resist such migration from their own culture driven/sensitive societies –  and this is especially true of women and young girls – for whom starting small businesses specific to local economic activities could be an way out of deprivation and poverty. So there is a need to provide ‘reasonable’ emphasis on ‘VET training for self-employment’ as well, unless and until we can generate more and more non-farm wage jobs in the rural areas/villages by establishing large number of industries of different types/sizes and investing heavily in rural manufacturing (like China has done for last so many years). These days, Government of India, is increasingly emphasizing on ‘Make in India’ and incentivizing domestic and foreign industry to enhance their investment commitments in manufacturing sector.

In addition to the above, 93% workforce depend on informal economy and informal economy is primarily consists of self-employed people among which ‘own account workers’ (like street vendor's, rickshaw pullers, etc) are the largest segment and they are largely unregistered. Hence, no labour market information can be collected/projected about their future labour demand and no census of enterprises can also be conducted given the huge numbers of informal micro and small enterprises. The number of employer's in the informal economy - who employ at least one wage workers - are relatively small. The remaining 7% workforce are employed in the formal economy (both public and private). Hence, we can all imagine, the number of wage workers the public and private sector can absorb in future. Further collecting labour market information and providing job matching services from formal sector enterprises is also difficult in a country like India or for that matter other similarly placed countries in South Asia or for some other Asian/African economies. Notwithstanding this, there are many successful job matching service options are available in the private sector (albeit with limited facility) and the government too has come out with career counseling and job matching services of its own – their success needs to be seen in future – as employers are not mandated to notify their vacancies rather it is ‘voluntary’ for them.

Under this scenario, we need to have a balance between skills training (VET) for wage paid jobs and training to start own business. In India, currently we have a ratio of 70:30 between wage and self-employment trainings respectively. So trainings are increasingly becoming employment linked and being made mandatory for all training providers. In that sense, we have graduated from only training – to assessment linked training – to training with both standardized assessment/certification and placement. But then time has come now to shift the ‘training outcome parameters’ towards providing ‘high quality placement/jobs’ in the formal economy. All these trainings (and also all general/technical/professional education) are now linked to appropriate level qualifiers in the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) and which are again linked with European and other Skills Qualification frameworks and in this endeavor India-EU Skills team is working relentlessly as far as my understanding is concerned.

Secondly, I agree with you that the Private Sector should be recognized as a key stakeholder in VET system. In fact in India, apart from others, they have been recognized as a key stakeholder in terms of deciding training areas, course curricula, in setting assessment standards and in imparting training through PPP mode - which in fact have been their long standing demand from the Government so that efficiency, productivity and economic growth increases manifold, apart from jobs being made more inclusive by imparting training to the masses (school dropouts, existing unemployed and underemployed workers in the informal economy) at the bottom of the income level. But is this the only role of the private sector? Does private sector has no responsibility towards the society or at least towards the sector of their operation in terms of spending their own profits on imparting skills training as per their industry specific requirements instead of depending exclusively on PPP mode, in which Government is the ‘only’ investor? Does private sector has no responsibility ‘at least’ to provide decent high quality jobs and better working conditions to those who have been VET trained? or will they continue to exploit now the ‘unlimited supplies of skilled-semi-skilled migrant laborers to the small towns and cities, much like the same way they earlier exploited (and also complained about) unlimited supplies of illiterate and unskilled labourers?  There is a need to deliberate on some of these aspects, where greater private sector role and leadership needs to be emphasized and no room should be given to the private sector/industries to box themselves out from these pertinent issues. Recently, I was analyzing 3000 VET graduate data relating to one of the provinces in India and was astonished to know that average monthly salary of these VET graduates are as low as $100/month. So training or no trainings, the monthly earnings are still more or less the same – so why so much emphasis on VET training and the providing major role to the private sector? Are we through these trainings ‘transitioning out form the informal to the formal economy’ or staying in the informal economy for eternity? Whom one should complain about? The private sector has decided everything – they decided the training areas/trades; they themselves are the training providers as well as assessors and at the end they themselves are the employers.

Although I sound critical, but there are silver linings also and hence one shouldn’t generalize the evidences shared here. I will be happy to answer any clarifications on this note and any other linked issues.

Anoop, your analysis is insightful and I must say that the low wages of the VET graduates are really astonishing. I wonder how many entities have done similar analyses. It is quite possible that wages and/or income in case of self-employment remains low for many such graduates in other places also.

Mei this is the general situation across countries where such interventions (skills training) are taking place but with variations depending on their relative level of development (measured in GDP) and the type of trainings that is being imparted. For instance most of the Skills training in India for the masses [(illiterate, semi-literate, school/college dropouts, unemployed youths, underemployed informal economy workers, workers with skills (acquired informally either on the job or through intergenerational transfer of skills)] but having no formal certifications are of 3 months duration in general. Government has a target to skill 500 million persons by 2002 in such trainings. The average monthly nominal income data I shared for 3000 skilled graduates are trained for 3 months in relevant trades/job roles/occupations as per industry demand and placed in wage jobs. While the average monthly income is around $100, the income range varies from a low of $40-50/month to a high of $ 350-400/month. Those who are receiving low income of $40-50 didn’t opted to migrate out and trained in trades such as sewing/stitching or to be as security guards – hence had low level of education before joining training. Those who are receiving higher monthly income of $350-400/month opted to migrate out for work in other cities and towns of India and was trained in modern service related trades such as hospitality, IT and retail – and had 12-15 years of prior education (good English speakers) before joining training.

As far as self-employed after training is concerned – we don’t have much idea as their tracking is not being done as emphasis was on wage employment. However, this is changing now with increasing emphasis being placed on self-employment with the realization that enough wage employment can’t be created for all. Therefore concepts like “Makers of India”, and “Startup India” are gaining increasing importance to reboot the manufacturing sector. Credit and other financial inclusion programmes have been directed to provide assistance to start small businesses in the country in a big way.

Apart from the 3 month duration training, India has also higher level of VET such as Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in every districts of the country under the Government and Industrial Training Centers (ITCs) in the private domain. The ITIs and ITCs run 1 and 2 years VET trainings. Students can enter these trainings after completion of 10 to 12 years of education. In the Government ITIs, students are admitted competitively (either through conducting exams or on the basis of test scores in the qualifying exams and this varies from province to provinces). Government ITIs are highly subsidized, but number of seats available is less compared to demand. Those who couldn’t enter Government it is, but have money get themselves enrolled in private ITCs most of whom charge exorbitant tuition fees. As the training duration of ITIs/ITCs are of longer duration here the wages and salary of graduates are better compared to 3 month trained graduates. But in this case too placement is not sure immediately after training like any other educational institutions and students have to search employment in labour market. But through a World Bank funded vocational training improvement project 400 Government run ITIs have been modernized in the country with increasing emphasis on enhancing quality, placement and income level of the passed outs.

Thank you Anoop, together with my notes from my Skype interview with you, we will use this information in our research analysis. 

Most Welcome Mei !


Usted ha mencionado que hay muy poco interés del gobierno en los tres niveles. ¿Cree que hay alguna posibilidad de aumentar su interés? ¿Hay una manera de incluir los jóvenes a hacer un poco de promoción sobre esto?

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Francesco Barilli
5 February 2016

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