Education and employment indicators show that highly educated individuals are more likely to be employed. With the onset of the Great depression and the sluggish labor market, there have been widespread reports of newly minted college graduates who have failed at finding jobs suited to their education level. It has increasingly become difficult for recent graduates to secure a job and those who do find work, often get confined to low-wage positions. In Kashmir, the overall employment and labor market situation continues to give rise to serious concerns. The Kashmir labor market needs the highest attention in economic as well as social policy-making. Unemployment is a major contributory factor in the rise in poverty. The biggest challenge that Kashmir faces today is that a large proportion of the recent college graduates are jobless. The unemployment among young people in the 15-24 age groups is more than three times the overall unemployment rate. In Kashmir, around 60% of the population is concentrated below the age of 25 years which means that many graduates enter the labor force annually. But most of them aren’t absorbed into the workforce. Our state requires a growth rate above 10% in order to absorb this increasing number. But Kashmir’s economy has slowed down in the past years and creating employment opportunities for youth has become a scary task. Today, very few opportunities exist in the formal sector and have been shrinking for some time. The trouble with recent graduates popping out in Kashmiri universities and colleges is that most of them have little interaction with the real world. With the growing intersection of technology and business, there is an immediate need to tackle both short-term and long-term unemployment of youth so that they do not become a significant burden on the society. There is a need to overcome disparity between education and training of young people in the context of growing burden on city and urban centers.
But most colleges and universities are still primarily running students through a “one size fits all” model. They assess students in standardized ways, overlook the students’ unique strengths and talents and completely ignore the economic realities. Our economy is changing but it does not mean that our graduates/workers are ready for it. Most of them are struggling to survive and thrive in the new economy but most of Kashmiri youth do not have the know-how or the resources to re-skill themselves in face of an adapting labor marketplace. Although youth issues have been ignored in the past, there’s no time like now to embark on an action plan for Kashmiri youths’ social and economic issues including employment and entrepreneurship challenges. In Kashmiri colleges and universities are not moving in the direction of providing substantive practical exposure to the students to prepare them for post studies life. Currently, our universities do not give students hands-on knowledge about how to learn and think independently.
(The author is presently working on a project on youth Entrepreneurship and Education in conflict Areas – A study of Higher Education. Views are his own, firstname.lastname@example.org)