As India plunges into an unemployment abyss, comes the grimmer report of the unemployability abyss. Close on the heels of the data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy showing India’s October unemployment rate at 8.5 per cent, the highest since August 2016, come extremely worrisome tidings from the Global Business Coalition for Education, 2030 skills scorecard, prepared by the Unicef and Education Commission.

Of the 300 million children, supposedly the key to India’s demographic dividend, set to pass school by 2030, 47 per cent will bit a roadblock when seeking entry into the workforce, irrespective of the vocation that they might wish to engage in. Attributing this chasm in the skilling to “low quality of education and sub-optimal vocational training”, the report clearly establishes that imparting the three ‘R’s, Indian style, without insights into how the graduating classes will fit into the rural or urban, tech or nontech, workspace, is making much of the school education system irrelevant for the students and indeed disempowering the future citizen.

Along with the equally appalling numbers from the rest of South Asia, the situation assumes explosive dimensions for the aspirational youth across the region, a situation that may still be avoided by a concerted shift in the teaching paradigm to address current job needs.

The daily addition to the rolls of these poorly-qualified job seekers is “nearly 100,000 young South Asians”, as the Unicef emphasizes, with “almost half of them not on track to find 21st century jobs”.

The unfortunate circumstances created by their often inconsequential passage of a decade in school is not ameliorated by any corrective mechanism in higher education, which in fact intensifies the malaise; another ailment diagnosed by several studies over the past few years. Thus much of the education ecosystem is rendered out of sync with the knowledge ~ and even the not-soknowledge ~ based economy.

Back in 2016, an Assocham study talked of 93 per cent of business management graduates being unemployable; only seven per cent standing a chance of participating productively in the management ecosystem because their schools did not have the rigorous academic instruction structure considered de rigeur for grappling with management complexities in the world today.

Matters do not improve with engineering education either, with upwards of 80 per cent of graduating engineers being deemed unemployable for want of technical, cognitive and linguistic requirements for softwarerelated jobs and certainly not for such esoteric spheres as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science and mobile development.

Regrettably, schools do not even train students for very simple, mechanical work that could make them useful for the rural sector, for instance.

The bottomline, for a populace ill equipped to handle livelihood issues is the perpetuation of poverty and faltering economic growth. The writing is clearly on the wall today; as is India’s unpreparedness to address mass poverty clubbed with depression and anxiety.