Expert Speak India Matters
Published on Oct 29, 2018
The expanse of the young population makes it important for India to understand the needs, desires and aspirations of its youth.
Improving job satisfaction among India’s youth India is contending with its shifting demographic structure. It is both the second most populous, and one of the youngest countries in the world. More than 50% of the Indian population is below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35.  Nearly 5 million people are added to the Indian labour force each year.  If efficiently employed, India’s young population has immense potential to add to the wealth of the country. The expanse of the young population makes it important for India to understand the needs, desires and aspirations of its youth. The Youth Aspirations in India Survey by Observer Research Foundation and the World Economic Forum shows that youth are dissatisfied with the availability of suitable job opportunities. As many as 49% of youth perceive the availability of desirable employment opportunities to be not good or very bad.  This may in part be the result of a misalignment between the supply and demand of skills in the market. In other words, there exists a divide between the skills and qualifications acquired by youth and those that are required by employers. This mismatch has economic as well as a social dimensions. Unemployment and underemployment are formidable challenges for India. At the same time, 92 percent of work is informal.  These underlying characteristics of the Indian economy make job seekers look for work that fetches them financial stability. While the fear of losing a job is incessant, this makes people look for job security. This is reflected in the fact that half of the respondents to the The Youth Aspirations in India Survey prefer a government job.  Further, there is a conventional inclination towards fields in the hard sciences. This makes people hesitant to explore other career trajectories. At the same time, labour market outcomes are not optimal, and job satisfaction among youth is tepid. 30% of youth reporting being not satisfied with their job.

Unemployment and underemployment are formidable challenges for India. At the same time, 92 percent of work is informal. The underlying characteristics of the Indian economy make job seekers look for work that fetches them financial stability.


With the emergence of advanced technologies the labour force may undergo significant transformations. In turn requiring up-skilling and the ‘right’ skilling of workers. To reduce the gap between the skills acquired among youth, and labour market realities today and in the future three things are needed. First, greater investment is needed in providing youth with reliable career counseling, mentorship opportunities and job seeking information. While 62% of youth report that career counseling and mentoring opportunities are moderately or very accessible to them, for a third of youth, they are not accessible at all.  30% of currently employed youth report that it took them more than year to find their job. In order to improve the matching of job seekers with appropriate opportunities, information asymmetries need to be addressed. Second, youth need opportunities to test out different career pathways. It is striking that just 8% of youth respondents are currently employed in an internship. This is compared 81% who think that participating in an internship or apprenticeship is important for landing a job. A lack of experience is one of the main barriers faced by youth in finding desirable jobs. The private and the public sector alike have an important role to play in providing greater opportunities for young people to gain work experience. This can also help new entrants into the labour market recognize their skill potential, and help them make career decisions that are in-sync with their aspirations. Such initiatives can help youth find ‘purpose’ in their future careers and improve job satisfaction. Finally, skilling initiatives need to be future ready. For nearly a third companies, the average tenure of an employee is less than 3 years.  This points to a need for skilling programmes that are easily accessible, and are targeted at individuals at all stages of their career. That is, the education-to-work-to-retirement trajectory is a thing of the past. Individuals will now have the opportunity to change jobs and career paths multiple times throughout their lives. Skilling programmes and initiatives need to be demand driven, supported and provided by the private sector and attractive to India’s aspiring youth. 76% of youth report being very interested in pursuing a skills programme, while 77% have never enrolled in a programme. The barriers to participation, particularly for India’s female youth need to be addressed. A skilled workforce is essential for India, but a 'right' skilled workforce can work as an elixir for India and help the country channel its demographic strength on the path of prosperity. There is discernable interest in pursuing skills programmes, finding jobs and attaining higher education. This motivation needs to be harnessed to drive growth, improve labour market outcomes and increase job satisfaction among the nation’s youth.
2011 Census The Labour Bureau Report on Employment & Unemployment Survey 2013-14. Vidisha Mishra, Terri Chapman, Rakesh Sinha, Suchi Kedia and Sriram Gutta, “Young India and Work: A Survey of Youth Aspirations,” The Observer Research Foundation and the World Economic Forum. Forthcoming. NSSO 2011-12 Employment and Unemployment round. Vidisha Mishra, Terri Chapman, Rakesh Sinha, Suchi Kedia and Sriram Gutta, “Young India and Work: A Survey of Youth Aspirations,” The Observer Research Foundation and the World Economic Forum. Forthcoming. Vidisha Mishra, Terri Chapman, Rakesh Sinha, Suchi Kedia and Sriram Gutta, “Young India and Work: A Survey of Youth Aspirations,” The Observer Research Foundation and the World Economic Forum. Forthcoming. Terri Chapman, Samir Saran, Rakesh Sinha, Suchi Kedia and Sriram Gutta, “The Future of Work in India: Inclusion, Growth and Transformaiton,” The Observer Research Foundation and the World Economic Forum. 2018.
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