Unemployment Haunts Himachal Youth

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Creating meaningful jobs is a global problem and it is no different for Himachal Pradesh. The relatively young demographic profile of the state compounds the problem.

The number of unemployed workforce in the state is a staggering 8, 92,988, as per the data of the Department of Labour and Employment, (Figures as on 31.03.2017, aged 15-45); it constitutes about 13% of the states total population.

The 2017-18 Economic Survey of Himachal Pradesh estimated that there were about 60,549 young men and girls who would come into the job seeking market for the year after having finished their courses in the various educational institutes of the state.  The survey put the number of fresh graduates for the year at 4,928-degree holders, 7,837 diploma holders and 47,784 from both private and government ITIs..

The much touted demographic dividend is imperceptibly turning into the dreaded demographic recession.

The cardinal question, however, is: What, thus, is the way forward? The manufacturing sector in the state is bad shape for obvious reasons: The hilly terrain, harsh weather conditions, geographical location of the state, lack of adequate infrastructure, non-availability of railways, limited availability of land for industrial use, over dependence on roads for transportation, the cartel of transporters and botched up industrial policy. Consequently, only a handful of jobs were created in this sector-that too, mostly, on the shop floor.

In the past, the state did create umpteen ministerial jobs, especially, in the government sector. The state government employs, incredible, 2, 20,215 people (Source: Employees census2017 Govt. of HP. Figures as on 31.03.2017.), which is 3.20% of the total population. 94% of this workforce is employed in non-ministerial jobs. However, with the advent of technology, these jobs have either dried up or have become obsolete. A government can offer only a limited number of jobs that is never enough to meet the demand of the burgeoning workforce.

The answer about job creation lies in sectors like tourism, IT and Food Processing.

The state is blessed with bucolic setting and salubrious climate that makes it’s a top tourist destination-albeit, numerous places are yet to exposed to tourism activity. As tourism offers bountiful job prospects far more easily than, for say, manufacturing. Hence, building requisite infrastructure and marketing our tourism aggressively should be the priority to attract investment in this sector.

Resources that drives the tourism sector are limited, rare, susceptible to climate change and vulnerable to environmental degradation. Thus the development of tourism should be sustainable and bereft of any overexploitation keeping in mind the fragile ecology. The state must ensure sustainable tourism.

It’s customary for IT companies, globally, to prefer a location that is politically stable, sylvan, pollution free with an abundant availability of well-equipped workforce. The state offer all of this. It must put its act together to attract investment in this sector. Himachal Kaushal Vikas Nigam and various technical institutes should strive hard for partnership with countries like Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc to enhance the skill level and bolster modern training to the available workforce.

The linchpins of the state economy are agriculture and horticulture, contributing 22.5 % of the Gross State Domestic Product and employing 71% of the working population. Time for transition of agriculture and horticulture to the next step: to lay massive thrust on small-scale unit’s food processing industries based on local agriculture and horticulture produce, as, units as such, can employ a large number of workforce.

The state is also known as the “Apple state of the India” for large-scale production of apple. The Apple economy is worth 4% (Rs4000 crore) of the Gross State Domestic Product. The Small Food processing units dependent on local produce, coupled with sustainable agro-tourism can employ a large number of workforce. Albeit, it requires imparting technological knowledge; providing easy lending to the farmers and improving the overall industrial ecosystem – as China did in the early nineties and transformed its apple producing belts into food processing hub.

The state government has launched Start-Up and MMYS scheme, backed with sufficient budget allocation, this is set in the right direction. If such schemes are targeted properly with effective monitoring, it can change the propensity of state workforce from job seeker to job creators. In the absence of these factors, the budget allocation might become “slush fund” and yet another bureaucratic boondoggle whose fate is foredoomed to be a failure.

On top of this, the government needs to bring, much needed, changes to the education structure. The time of rote learning and regurgitating is over. Structural changes will ensure that the burgeoning future workforce is competent that can face up with the challenges of the job market.

The prognosis of unemployment can be appalling. The malady requires preemptory measures, if it’s not addressed in time, the concomitant could be severe. The job conundrum can easily turn the utopian dream of the state into a dystopian nightmare.

Sunny Grack is a former banker. Interested in matters on economy, globalisation ,financial market and public policy; an Economic and Management graduate. He lives in Shimla.

6 Comments

  • Rajesh Sharma says:

    The article is superbly put together. You have identified the real problem the youth of Himachal is facing. I feel bad when lakhs of people apply for jobs in which there a few posts to be filled. And the test they take is totally irrelevant. I believe everyone is capable of doing everything untill they are not trained for that. You got that right when you wrote that government is not promoting tourism as they aren’t doing much in this sector not realising that it is one of the sector provide employment. The youth is blinded by the word Govt. job and wasting their time.

  • Puneet singh says:

    Not a single mention of section 118 that how this section is acting as hindrance for job creation

  • Pardeep Kumar says:

    This is the right step to show the govt. how the youth is ignored. I am sorry to say that youth is struggling for employment but they are ignored by local industry. If we complaint about this problem then there is no solution.
    Also wages are very low in Himachal. Wonder is that when govt. is not careful about the expenses on the MLA’s and other administrative posts. I want to share one thing here that when Sh. Lal Bahadur Shashtri was PM and India was under crisis. Then Lal Bahadur Shashtri reduced his expenses from home as well as of Office. Even An AC was installed in his office that was removed on his order. But today PM has doubled the salary and on the same way the HP govt. is going. Job fairs are a drama in Himachal. Reality is beyond the facts. And facts are before you as the survey or report of Employment deptt. is before you.

  • Kailash Kumar says:

    I had suggested a two major project to HIMACHAL goverment,,
    One is Small aircraft manufacturing and second one is railway line,,
    I hope if project going successful ,have a inough Employment,In HIMACHAL PRADESH,also realstae working here,,

  • Bipan says:

    well, I have so much to point out what is the real face of Himachal now, Somehow we know there is lots of thing which has to put in front of Govt of Himachal, but everybody is just waiting others to come forward. I agree the fact that everybody knows the real atitude of people, that we can’t be unite. One Symbol of Unity is not enough to be unite. (1) Jobs in Himachal is quite closer to Nah ! Where are the Industries, Companies, Govt. Sectors. we have Lakhs of Students who are activally seeking for jobs, They are going outside of Himachal. just for 8 – 15 k / month. Is that sufficent. Nah ! (2) we can see the private land in Himachal, which is not cultivated since the people moving to earn, because they don’t have enough support to cultivate. If one family member get job in home city, other family members can cultivate and can contribute for growth of the nation. (3) If land would not be cultivate water lavel will go down. the other major problem in the world, where as, we have limited source of water in himahcal we know we don’t have to look into this yet. but how long. This problem can change the face of Himachal. If we will not have the Natural resources, will change the climate of Hills…So please look into matter and try to make some little change around us..
    NO JOBS > NO FARMING > LOW WATER LEVEL > NO BEAUTY OF HILLS > NO TOURISTS ..

    This article is great reminded so many things. Thanks for sharing

  • Dr. Rakesh Sharma says:

    I had written on this issue a couple of months ago. A realistic understanding of the core issue with some policy insights. Link Follows:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Rdzx0U_Jn6UF1LE8tnnnueGjX1n2KcYX/view

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