In the next few years India will become the youngest country in the world with the highest population of young people under the age of 30 years. The median age in the country would be as young as 28 as compared to the 45 in Western Europe and 37 in China and US. China’s economy has already benefited from their demographic dividend and now it is up to India to derive the best of its youth. But development is not a default by-product of demographic dividend. The development of our country would hugely depend on the education and skills opportunities available for these more 500 million young people that would enable them to contribute to the economy. Having the highest young population in the world also raises major concerns for a society. Are there enough jobs available to absorb this population of educated youth?
In Sikkim, to enable the maximum contribution of the youth, the state needs to focus their attention towards investing more efficiently and effectively on human resource development. This would include investment in people through quality education, better healthcare, skill development and creation of more jobs in the economy. For a state to achieve its full potential would need to enable its working population to participate fully in the 21st century economy. This calls for the state to generate opportunities that are youth-centric. Youth centric opportunities would encompass the needs and the aspirations of the young population.
To facilitate the contribution of the youth population towards development we firs need to ensure that the education is in alignment with the needs of the 21st century. Sikkim state has left no stone unturned to create a robust education system. With the highest per capita expenditure on education in the country, the state has been able to create a strong network of schools and colleges in the state. The state also boasts of achieving 100% literacy by the year 2020 which would be a stepping stone towards empowering the workforce.
But there is scope for many more reforms in the system which would equip the youth with the necessary skills and training for their participation in the society. Firstly, the state would need to introduce education reforms to make it more student centric with an employment and skill-based curriculum which can give the youth financial security. According to a recent research it was found that out of the people graduating from college in India less than 17% are immediately employable. And only 2.3% of the workforce has formal skills training as compared to 96% in South Korea and 80% in Japan. And so, it becomes of utmost importance that rapid skilling of the young takes place. Apart from a substantial revamping of school level education, this would require sharply redesigned and expanded national and state level apprenticeship programs.
Along with educational reforms and skilling reforms the government also needs to look into creating new jobs which make use of the education and skills that the youth is equipped with. Introduction of technology in sector like agriculture to improve the agricultural supply chain where imperfect information on weather phenomena and market prices are major reasons for suppressed agrarian incomes can help in transforming it in a lucrative sector of employment for the young. At the same time there is a need to create jobs that are non-agriculture in nature. Jobs creation in both the public and private sector should be given a boost to fulfill the future requirement for youth employment. The states can also look into setting up Committee to design a policy for job creation as per the specific job requirements of the state. Only through providing quality education, global skills and new job opportunities to the youth can we actually ensure the contribution of the largest young population in the development of our country.