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India suffers from ‘jobless growth’, says ILO

Feb 14, 2013

Amidst a political paralysis in Nepal and Maldives, fragile conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, India has maintained highest GDP amongst the South Asian nations. However, youth unemployment, gender disparity and lack of decent work remain big challenges facing the country, reveals an ILO report.

 

South Asia has been the second-fastest growing region in the world in recent years, mostly thanks to India’s contribution, and is likely continue to be so despite the slowdown and domestic constraints, reveals the Global Employment Trends 2013, a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

However, young people are hit hard by this crisis. Indians with a certain amount of education suffer particularly, with unemployment rates reaching 34.5 per cent for women and 18.9 per cent for men during 2009–10.

“India has 66 per cent of its total population below the age of 35 which makes for the world’s largest youth population. However, unemployment rate in the country is quite high, especially in urban areas”, says Tine Staermose, Director, Country Office for India and decent Work Team for South Asia.

India had already adopted Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) in the year 2010, but it seems it always remained on paper. “A large number of workers in India remain in unprotected jobs. This is the right time to push for a global goal that is decent work for all”, says Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative, UNDP.

Saying that there is no alternative for ‘decent work’ and it should be included in each and every global development agenda such as Rio+20 and sustainable development goals, Yoshiteru Uramoto, Regional Director for the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, said “I think the Global Employment Trends 2013 report is very timely. This report tries to respond to some of the important issues related to employment.” He said that the quality of work is as important as the number of jobs created.

While the process of structural transformation in South Asia has begun, its scope and direction is uncertain. In particular, it remains unclear whether the manufacturing sector will be able to absorb large numbers of job-seekers in countries like India, highlights the report.

A degree of structural transformation, youth unemployment situation and female labour force participation are the key challenges in India and South Asia. The country needs to take advantage of its ‘demographic dividend’, says Dr Sher Verick, Senior Employment Specialist, ILO Decent Work Team South Asia.

“Clearly, the youth unemployment, particularly among the youth with certain amount of education, is increasing in India. However, the ‘demographic dividend’ will pay if the restructuring is done in an orderly manner”, said Abhijit Sen, Member, Planning Commission of India. He added that the country doesn’t have many skill development schemes for women.

Talking about youth unemployment in India, Dr SK Sasikumar, Senior Fellow, VV Giri National Labour Institute, put forward an interesting fact. He said, “We have found out through an academic research that of the youth between the age group of 15-29 years, 26.9 per cent is neither working, nor studying and not even looking for a job.” This is the category that the country needs to focus on to understand the unemployment rate in a better way, Sasikumar added.

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