Thursday, July 25, 2024

Job creation not on government’s agenda


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By HH Mohrmen

A small neighbourhood where I live has about ten houses and not less than ten educated unemployed youths and the educational background of these youngsters range from matriculate to graduate. Most of them are from the Arts stream so job opportunities are indeed very limited. It is a known fact that almost all localities in the urban areas of the state face a similar situation where young people are endlessly waiting for a job. Then I look at the growing numbers of young people who enrol themselves in schools and colleges and I can’t help but wonder how and where these young people will find employment. In a meeting organized by the Jaintia Youth Federation recently, where Bindo Lanong the Deputy Chief Minister was the chief guest, this issue was brought up front for the Minister to answer. The Deputy Chief Minister expressed his surprise at the fact that people from the other parts of India or and even from other countries come to Jaintia Hills to find employment while the young people of the district remain unemployed. A coal baron who is also one of the speaker nodded in agreement with what Lanong just said. I can understand the chuckle of amusement from the coal baron. It is easy for him because he can travel in his air-conditioned SUV and does not have to expose himself to the heat and dust. Can we imagine an educated young man or woman slugging it out in the heat and dust or worse still get into the rat hole and mine? Why are they being educated if they have to end up doing a menial job like that?

It is the duty of the government to respect their dignity and to provide them employment befitting their qualification. It is also believed that industrialization would help solve the employment problem but how much can the cement companies employ? It is also a known fact that the cement companies prefer outsiders than locals because they say, “the locals don’t have the industrial culture.” So, how can we provide employment to our young ones? Some adventurous young men and women have gone outside the state in search of greener pastures but what about the average young people?

I am not the first one to blame the education system in the state for creating this gigantic problem but the purpose of this write-up is not to dwell in the past and go on criticizing the government for not doing enough to ensure a better future of our young people. This write-up hopes to suggest ways and means for the government and even educational institutions to take into consideration and improve the employability of the educated youth of the state. That can happen only by reforming the examination system. The education department is already on the right track and as mentioned earlier our concern is not with the section of youths who do well in their studies but the average young people the second and third divisioners who roughly constitute not about 60 percent of the youth population. The 100 percent cut off mark for admission is certainly beyond what this section of the class can think of, but that is not the end of the world for them. There is a lot that the government can do to help this section of the youth. Thank goodness, quite a few of them gain employment as teachers in the schools under the SSA but even young people know that the government cannot employ the entire workforce available in the state. The question is what are the available options?

Social activist A.K. Nongkynrih of the Sociology department NEHU has time and again emphasised on the need of empowering the rural folks. If we want to improve the economy of the state we need to focus our attention on the villages. How else can we build our economy when more than 80 percent of the population resides in the villages? Nongkynrih once reminded the audience that for everything we need we import from outside the state; we spend crores of money importing fish from Andhra Pradesh; we also spend crores of money importing pigs and cows to be slaughtered to satisfy our appetite. We even import safety pins and match boxes and export nothing except our mineral resources. And we do not even add value to those resources. How do we expect the economy of our state to improve if we have nothing to export and our youths are not gainfully employed?

Now many farming families in the villages send their kids to schools hoping that they may get a better job, but the idea is to let brilliant students (the 100 percent) continue with their studies because we also need doctors, engineers, teachers and what have you. But we can teach average students’ different skills from the higher secondary section onwards. After the SSLC results average students can choose to continue with their higher secondary education combined with training on skills like fish farming, piggery farming, poultry farming etc. Students who in spite of ‘the best of five system of examination’ barely manage to scrape through should be encouraged to undertake livelihoods skills training. I don’t see the need of having a Polytechnic or an ITI to train young people in trades that will not help them be gainfully employed but only increase the numbers of people waiting for government jobs. We need to teach students skills that will help them go back to the field and start farming and may be even create more employment; trades that have ready market available locally.

How do we go about it? Well we have Agriculture department, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Industries and Commerce departments even at the Block level. These can chalk out programmes with schools or the Inspectors/Deputy Inspectors of School to conduct the necessary training. Government can provide funds to these departments to conduct a workshop in all the higher secondary schools of their respective blocks/sub divisions and to train students in the various job oriented programmes that their offices or departments can offer. For instance a farmer’s programme (Kisanwani Programme) is already on air in collaboration between the various departments and the All India Radio.

I hope this will help young people find self-employment to reduce if not stop the urban migration. This way the government can make use of the best machinery available to create employment for our educated young people and also improve the economy of the state. Then the crores of rupees gained from selling our mineral resources will circulate in the state itself and benefit everybody in the state. One hopes that the MUA government will start making job creation an agenda of the day if we do not want our young people to squander their lives or may be even create a problem for the state in the near future. It is also hoped that the proposed MBOSE open school system of the education department would introduce locally absorbable trades and not copy whatever the NIOS has in its syllabus.

(The author is an elder of the Unitarian Church, a scholar and columnist)


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