Three AIF Clinton Fellows from the Class of 2012-2013 had a unique opportunity to lead a national youth survey leveraging fellow AIF fellows and NGOs across India focused on providing access to livelihoods for India’s youth. A joint project between the Office of the Advisor to the Prime Minister for Skills Development (APM-SD) and the American India Foundation (AIF),351 surveys were administered through 9 NGOs in 10 regions across India focusing on young people ages 16 to 26 with education levels below secondary education at the 12th grade level.
In the report, entitled “In Their Voice: Hopes and Aspirations of Young People in India,” Fellows Gayatri Eassey, Shilpa Vimalananda, and Andrew Fertig investigated how the aspirations, hopes, and dreams of young people relate to education and career goals. The results indicate that young people are eager and motivated, but lack the information and the counseling necessary to understand the requisite subsequent steps that would facilitate employment, career advancement, and achievement of their goals in general.
These results encouragingly show that if young people undertake job training, they are almost twice as likely to have a job. However, employment after completing training is not associated with a salary higher than those who did not attend training. This brings into question the potential plateau of skills development programs and their inability to provide significant upward mobility as well as tangible financial added value in young people’s lives.
The survey also revealed an association between education levels and salary, meaning that the longer young people stay in school, the more likely they are to have the capacity to earn a higher salary. This effect is most significant for young people staying in school past 7th standard. Given the current climate of education and training, those who drop out of school earlier, most likely for a job with lower pay, are generally unable to return for future “up-skilling.”
The result of this report is five major policy recommendations based on the analysis of and the observations from the data collected:
- “Earn and Learn” Programs should be expanded so that skills development activities and further education are not mutually exclusive.
- Career pathways need to be emphasized in both education and training.
- There is a need to expand opportunities and facilitate access to career-counseling resources, as well as integrate existing services into physical offices that are centralized at the state or local level.
- Awareness and marketing of training programs must be tailored to entire communities and families, not just individuals.
- There needs to be diversification in how training fees are paid. The creation of buy-in and mutual benefit training programs will help to establish more sustainable and accessible skills development institutions
Our recommendations are aimed at major policy change, but the true learning of the Fellows from leading this national youth survey effort was exposure to the 351 individual stories captured in this survey. While India is poised to leverage their demographic dividend, the country’s education system must rise to meet the diverse and varied aspirations of its youth. If India can leverage the tremendous potential of these young people amazing things will transpire. Should the country lose this opportunity and allow youth unemployment to continue rise and student’s dreams to go unfulfilled, its future will be much more tenuous.
Gayatri Eassey, currently Program Director at Wadhwani Foundation, served at the National Council for Skills Development as an AIF Clinton Fellow. Shilpa Vimalanada served at the Society for Education Action and Research (SEARCH), and Andrew Fertig with Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra (KGVK).