While attending a convocation ceremony at Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni in Himachal Pradesh, President Ram Nath Kovind urged agricultural scientists to use the skills imparted by their education to create more avenues for self-employment. Addressing the gathering of students on June 21, he said, “Several enthusiastic youths have opted for their own ventures in agri sector after attaining education and started organic farming of fruits, vegetables and flowers and have become exporters of these produce.”
Skill Development through Education
India has achieved a significant economic growth in past few years, but the challenge of creating decent employment opportunities for millions of youth joining the labour market every year still remains intact. The facilitation of informal to formal employment for individuals who are already a part of labour market is the by-product of the same challenge. Today, youth form about 35% of the Indian population and Indian workforce is expected to rise to 600 million by the year 2022.
The primary predicament involved in this is to make young students employment-ready or to create self-employment for them. This can only be resolved by making internships mandatory for students after each semester of engineering and applied science programmes. Involvement of architecture and civil engineering students in live projects will acquaint them with actual working conditions in their respective domains. Incubation centres at educational institutes should also encourage new and innovative ideas by students. For example, the Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT Bombay and its initiatives like Eureka and Ideas provide students an insight of possibilities that lie within their grasp.
Employment and Income in Agriculture
The ICE 360° Household Survey 2016 states that 89% of Indian population lives in rural areas. Hence, there is an urgent need to change the economic scenario of rural areas. The start-ups in the agricultural arena will boost the rural economy of our country. The possible areas of self-employment in rural areas not only involve agriculture but also agriculture-allied sectors such as plantation and horticulture, irrigation, livestock, fisheries, agro-processing, and storage of agricultural produce. All these subsidiary sectors provide immense employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise
As per 2006 definition, micro enterprises are units involving investment below Rs 25 lakh (Rs 2.5 mn), small enterprises are those which involve investments between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 mn) and investments in medium enterprises range from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 mn). Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) constitutes over 37% of India’s GDP and therefore produces a major chunk of employment. Educational institutes should, therefore, take entrepreneurial initiatives to develop this sector. SIDBI Innovation and Incubation Centre (SIIC) at IIT Kanpur is one such initiative which has incubated and mentored 53 start-ups and disbursed seed funds of 50 crores for agri start-ups.
The targeted employment generation programmes run by the government often transform into Employment Guarantee Schemes that help in the provision of jobs to those who are willing to work but labour market doesn’t provide them enough opportunities due to academic inflation. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in India is one of such programmes that provide a certain level of secure employment, particularly to the informal workforce.
Efforts in the future under National Employment Policy should provide more and adequate employment and increased self-employment opportunities to women and socially underprivileged groups. The formal sector is guarded by labour legislation and standards but promoting safety and healthy work environment for workers in informal sector should be the priority of such schemes.