India's schools must change to help industrial upgrading

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/12 22:13:39

An unemployment dilemma is brewing in India, but the country may have gotten onto the wrong track in creating jobs for its youth.

In India, more than half of the MBA graduates could not get jobs during campus placement events in 2016-17, the India-based Economic Times (ET) reported recently, citing data from the All India Council for Technical Education.

According to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), an India-based think tank, the number of those who were unemployed and seeking jobs in India was 25.9 million in January 2017, almost equal to the total population of Australia. An increasing number of jobless youths is a very real danger that could undermine social stability.

The ET report attributed the high unemployment rate of MBA graduates to the outdated curriculum offerings of Indian business schools. This view was echoed by some observers, who said that more effort should be made to modernize India's MBA programs. However, treating the ills of India's business schools probably won't cure the country's unemployment problem.

Since taking power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's economic vision has centered on boosting India's competitiveness as a manufacturing base. Economic restructuring has prompted the need for adjustments in the labor market. India faces an extreme shortage of skilled manufacturing workers, while witnessing a surplus of MBAs and software engineers. It seems the educational system is not ready yet for the "Make in India" campaign initiated by the Modi administration.

The fundamental way to solve the unemployment problem is to deal with the impact of economic restructuring.

It is crucial for India to raise the quality of vocational education and skills of its workforce to meet rising demand for skilled labor in the manufacturing sector.

Instead of MBAs, India desperately needs electricians, welders, cotton spinners and workers who can manipulate complex machines. According to data from the World Bank, the vocational education stream in India is quite small, enrolling less than 3 percent of students at the upper secondary level. Besides state-owned training institutions, private capital should be encouraged to enter the market for vocational education.

In China, more than 30,000 students each year - mostly hailing from rural areas and lacking the academic prowess to go to college - study trades like welding at Lanxiang, one of China's private vocational schools, which was founded in 1984 in Shandong Province. India still has a long way to go in promoting vocational education and setting up schools like Lanxiang. China and India may have huge potential for cooperation in this regard.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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