Rising Higher Education and Unemployment – UPSC GS2

Summary:
  • Enrolment in Higher Education is increasing.
  • There is little increase in Job Opportunities leading to unemployment.
Background:
  • There has been an increase in number of higher education institutions and rates of enrolment of students from diverse backgrounds.
  • But a scarcity of government and private sector jobs is ultimately leading to large scale unemployment amongst these students.
  • This group of dissatisfied, disgruntled youth can lead to disastrous consequences for our society.
Facts:
  • The Gross Enrolment Ratio for higher education, which is the percentage of the population between the ages of 18-23 who are enrolled, is now 27 per cent.
What has led to an increase in the enrolment?
  • Reservation: The reservation for backward classes(OBCs and EWS) has increased the enrolment of students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Number of Higher education institutions: The massive increase in the number of higher education institutions has led to an enlargement of the number of available seats. There are more than 45,000 universities and colleges in the country.
What are the associated concerns?
  • Huge mismatch between enrolment and jobs availability: The increase in enrolment has not been matched by a concomitant increase in jobs.
  • Government jobs: Employment opportunities in the government have not increased proportionately and have decreased with increased contractualisation.
  • Private sector:¬†Though the jobs have increased with economic growth, most of the jobs are contractual.
  • Gig workers: The majority of the jobs are created in the unattractive sector like call centres and delivery agents for e-commerce or fast food companies.
What are the existing challenges with vocational institutions?
  • Poor quality of vocational institutions: They are poorly maintained and lack resources, both physical and human. The curriculum remains outdated and has not been upgraded to include some of the newer skills like maintaining networking and telecom equipment.
  • Huge competition for admission: it is harder to get admission into these institutions compared to the local government colleges. Manufacturing units prefer hiring them for blue-collar jobs since they at least have a modicum of training.
What is the way forward?
  • There is need of concurrent increase in the number of high-quality vocational institutions. There are around 15,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the country currently.
  • Upgrading the existing ITIs with high-quality infrastructure and a new curriculum.
  • Industries should be aligned to bring in more funding (via the CSR route) to the institutions.

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