The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommends India should integrate an employment creation agenda with macro economic policies to boost productive non-farm employment, especially in the manufacturing sector.

India is likely to add 7-8 million youths annually to the labour force during the next decade or so. To absorb them along with existing unemployed and underemployed youths, the country needs to have a high rate of growth but also an employment-intensive process of growth, the India Employment Report 2024 released by ILO and the Institute of Human Development (IHD) states.

India should give primacy to labour-intensive manufacturing employment to absorb the abundant unskilled labour and also to combine with select services, the report says.

The United Nations agency says unemployment in India was predominantly a problem among youths. In 2022, the share of unemployed youths in the total unemployed population was 82.9%, the report shows.

The share of educated youths among all unemployed people also increased, from 54.2% in 2000 to 65.7% in 2022. Among the educated (secondary level or higher) unemployed youths, women accounted for a larger share (76.7%) than men (62.2%). The problem of unemployment in India has become increasingly concentrated among the youth, especially educated youths and women in urban areas, the report says.

Between 2015-16 and 2019, more than 10 million jobseekers registered with the National Career Service portal. Among them, nearly 64% were men and 83% were youths aged 15-34.

The ILO report says that the creation of good-quality employment needs to be supplemented by measures that reduce the stark inequalities in the labour market. It says the country should craft policies that boost women’s participation in the labour market with quality work. These policies should include larger provision for institutional care facilities, adaptable work arrangements, improved public transport, improved amenities and enhanced workplace safety.

To improve the quality of jobs, India should invest in and regulate sectors that are likely to be an important source of employment for young people. The country should create an inclusive urbanisation and migration policy as India is likely to experience a higher rate of urbanisation and migration in the future.

Reacting to the report, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge says, "Our Youth is bearing the brunt of Modi Govt's pathetic apathy, as ever-rising Unemployment has destroyed their future. ILO & IHD Report conclusively says that the Unemployment problem is grim in India. They are conservative, we are sitting on a 'ticking bomb' of joblessness!"

While releasing the report, chief economic adviser V Anantha Nageswaran said it is not right for the government to intervene in every social or economic problem. "We need to get out of this mindset. In the normal world, it is the commercial sector, and those who engage in for-profit activity, who need to do the hiring," he said.

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