With the pandemic now becoming a new normal, the engine of the economy has again begun to hum. And so has started speculations about what lay in store for us in the post-pandemic days and how we are going to face it. Speculations apart, life is still going on as usual, though at a slower pace. But common people who have little or no savings to fall back upon in times of difficulty, young people whose prime time of life is being wasted sitting idly at home are not ready to stand the present status quo anymore. They have a career before them and as such are too impatient to wait for safer post-pandemic days to come. So they have started to go out in greater numbers, meeting friends outside their homes, often to the dismay of their elders.
However, that is not the case with the youths from the less privileged, poorer households who cannot simply afford the luxury of staying at home even under the pandemic situation. Neither are their parents worried, for obvious reasons, when their sons or daughters go out for work or for other reasons.
From the psychological, though not physical, point of view, the youth segment of the population has been the most affected one by the pandemic. And that is only natural. Now one would like to ask if society at large has forgotten about this most potential segment of the population, or if their well-being or their future is a subject of serious thought to those who matter in society!
How far, for example, those in charge of running the government are concerned about the predicament our youths are in? There seems to be a good piece of news from the government's side in this regard. Of late, it is learnt to have come up with a whole new policy, named, the National Youth Policy 2020, which has a long-term vision about preparing our present as well as future youth populations for jobs. To all intents and purposes, it is a grandiose scheme, but the nation has long been badly in need of such a policy for the youths.
The fact is that the youths do not constitute a homogeneous group as they come from diverse social and economic backgrounds. The job creation policy, therefore, must be sensitive to the nerds and aspirations of all these different categories of the youths.
But what is more problematic than such background-specific considerations is our entire outlook about jobs which needs to be changed if we are to formulate an employment policy that is worth the effort.
Take for example the case of the educated youths. By the term educated we mean the person has obtained a bachelor's or a master's degree from a college or a university.
Interestingly, the degree a person thus obtains has no relevance to the kind of job she or he may be able to land finally. So, a graduate in chemistry may get a job in a bank or a student of English language may head the finance department of the government. Here what matters is getting a job by fair means or foul and it is not important if the job matches the candidate's field of specialisation or not. But getting a job even if it does not match one's degree is a matter of luck for the young job-seekers who come from the less privileged social background. Things are in many cases changing for private sector jobs where the situation wanted needs to be in line with the educational qualification of the candidate seeking it. However in an economy where the private sector investment is only around 23 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and where of the total unemployed, 79.6 per cent are from the youth segment of the population, a handful of private sector jobs cannot determine the prevailing trend dominating the job domain and its culture.
However, the national employment policy 2020 formulated by the ministry of labour and employment is learnt to have taken all these anomalies in existence in the country's employment market into consideration. It is also reported that according to the new employment policy, the government is planning to create 30 million jobs by 2030.
However, it still looks like a dream project as we are yet to know who are going to hire all these youths. To absorb such a colossal army of young job-seekers, the country would require a robust and thriving private sector. Taking the present domestic investment situation as an indicator and supposing that other socio-political preconditions would remain as they are, it would indeed take a miracle to achieve it. In fact, if the domestic investors are confident, the foreign investors, too, begin to show interest to invest in an economy. And to absorb the ever-growing number of youths swelling the ranks of the unemployed everyday what we would need is a very strong private sector fed by both local and foreign investments.
The optimism that politically charged experts and policy think-tank people often express about catching some of the overseas investments leaving China ring hollow when we look at the present picture of a hesitant and shy domestic sector. Howevermuch we may try to woo Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with sweet talks, it is not going to work unless the foreign investors are themselves convinced. First of all, they would like to see the presence of a vigorous domestic sector free from cronyism and not to mention other preconditions like cost of doing business, supportive infrastructure and so on.
Let all these aspects of our social and economic realities factor in the formulation of the national employment policy. Let us also hope that better days are awaiting our youths once the pandemic is over.