THE INDIAN EMPLOYMENT CONUNDRUM: Ill- Equipped Youth, Unsteady Goals and Underachievement

Imagine you are a highly qualified individual employed as the manager of a restaurant. Your head chef abruptly decides to pull a number on you and goes on a strike for an increase in wages. It is a scary situation for any professional, having your regular patrons trickling in but no chef in the kitchen to take care of their orders. How would you respond to this situation?

India witnesses a classic catch- 22 situations these days: With over 14% of graduates and 16% of postgraduates figuring in the latest unemployment charts as opposed to roughly 7% of illiterates, the situation is most peculiar. More still are stuck in a job that they hate, do not specialize in, or are simply overqualified for. How often have you seen an engineer bhaiyya (brother) going for a bank job because there just were not enough job opportunities? Have you ever stopped to wonder if it truly was because of the dearth of jobs or because he simply wilted under the competition and pressure? Time and again we see less educationally qualified people racing ahead in terms of professional success compared to their more educated counterparts. What gives them this boost in the rat race?
Employability and Life Skills: Let us refer to the scenario mentioned earlier. What would you do if you were the restaurant manager? Would you make do for the day with the available staff at the cost of quality? Would you close the restaurant for the day instead of offering low-quality food and risk losing out on your regulars? Or would you try to find a substitute for the head chef for the day and attempt to accommodate the customers in the meantime? Such situations demand you to think on your feet. How well you salvage this tricky situation depends on your decision making, leadership, problem-solving and interpersonal skills. These skills are very much sought after, and make you highly employable. People today are getting increasingly educated, but in practical knowledge, it is frequently a step back. This scenario goes on to prove that though bookish knowledge is necessary, it is most often useless without sufficient street smarts.
Job seekers instead of job creators: Conformity to set practices is another reason why many youths fail to reach a position that they envisage early in their lives. Admit it; we are all guilty of “settling” for things- anything goes as long as we stay snug in our comfort zones, be it regarding a job or the matters of the heart. It is easier and more comfortable to work on someone else’s charge, but brushing out your entrepreneurial skills and forging your path sometimes can lead you in the right direction. Taking risks has become alien business today. But calculated risks are indispensable in the quest for perfection and success. Sometimes you need to step in and grab the bull by the horns! Refuse to be merely one among the “sheeple” following a stock tradition and think divergently. Nothing is stopping you from taking charge of your lives. So the next time you feel suffocated in your job, or you feel you are drifting in a direction that you do not wish, remember- fortune favors the brave.
Prejudice and bias towards certain professions: The “white- collar” fixation that is bred into us along with the traditional notions of what is “respectable” and what not often extends to snubbing certain jobs that are integral to the subsistence and development of the nation and its people. It is indeed unfortunate that the value of the services rendered by farmers, casual workers, and manual laborers, for instance, is habitually overlooked and undervalued by a good number of people. The endless chase behind medical and engineering degrees that we see today, irrespective of aptitude and interest, is frankly meaningless and change is long overdue. We need to acknowledge the various talent pools among the masses and realize that earning a degree is only one among the multitude of ways to succeed in life. Baseless prejudices need to be chucked out the window for the nation to revive as a progressive, holistic and balanced entity.
Inadequacies of the education system: Our education system often demands one to mug up raw facts and figures and reproduce them on the answer sheet. But amidst it all, you sometimes lose sight of the real purpose of education: to equip the students with enough know- how to aid in their practical life, along with the building up of necessary qualities necessary to turn them into assets for the society and the nation. For this, each student must be given enough leeway to work out his strengths and weaknesses and to work on them. The insistence on hammering every pupil into uniform mold works comes at the devastating cost of the child’s individuality. Proper guidance and mentoring are imperative in giving students a sense of direction and a deeper awareness of their strengths and weaknesses that will help them become successful in their lives.
Lastly, never underestimate the importance of hard work, firm resolve, and perseverance. In the words of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, success “is about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will follow.” After all, success stories are nothing but 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration!