Indian Job Market - Emerging need for skills

In the initial days of 2020, the COVID19 pandemic has thrown a tumultuous challenge to the world's economy and to the leadership of every nation on the planet. 

Along with many other countries, India also went into a lockdown to reduce the spread of the pandemic. At this point, along with the shortage of medical infrastructure, India faced another major challenge - the impact on the job market by the end of April 2020. 

People were losing jobs as the domestic and international markets reeled under severe pressure due to the decline in production and demand. Along with this, the global lockdowns seized the opportunities for new jobs. Unemployment shot to unprecedented levels.

India being the second-most populous country in the world is often viewed as an asset as India has nurtured abundant human resources for global manufacturing and service industries over the decades. But this asset turned into a liability with indefinite lockdowns and declining global demand. The unemployment rate surged to 7.11% of the total workforce available in 2020 with an increase of 1.84% from 2019 while it used to be fluctuating between +/- 0.1% before the pandemic. (Data source: World Bank).

This highlighted one important aspect of domestic markets and Indian employment. Most Indians are dependent on the service sector jobs provided by outsourcing from western countries, or in the agricultural sector which is burdened with natural and artificial uncertainties and is an unsustainable source of employment.

Statistic: India: Distribution of the workforce across economic sectors from 2009 to 2019 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

In the wake of the pandemic highlighting the market conditions, the Indian government announced a major economic package to boost the manufacturing and services sector on May 13th, 2020. The Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission was launched. 

To be Atmanirbhar in the manufacturing and service industries, we need highly skilled engineers and management professionals. However, if we observe the above graph containing sector-wise employment for the decade 2009 to 2019, the status of agriculture as a major source of employment didn't change and there is not much improvement in the manufacturing and services sectors.

The number of people graduating from engineering colleges in India shows a different picture. Approx. 1.5 million people are passing out every year since 2009 across India. But the employment stats are quite contradictory to this. 

This places one important question before the industry, academia, governments, and society at large. The question is, "What are all these engineering graduates doing after their graduation?"

This can be answered if we look at the consistent employment rate in Agriculture and not so robust growth in the manufacturing and services sector. All the gaps confirm one profound aspect of our education system. 

Our engineering graduates are not getting the skills required for the industry. In my personal experience or with sufficient data from many kinds of research, we can conclude that the education our students get in the classrooms is in no way sufficient to confidently enter into the field of their study.

The National Employability Report for Engineers, 2019 pointed out that only 5.5% of the engineering graduates have the basic capabilities in their skill set. 

With nearly 95% of the graduates not having basic skills in their trade poses a grave risk for the prestigious Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission. 

India might be an attractive market with a vast land area, stable governments, lucrative economic policies, and an abundance of human resources. However, with nearly 95% of the graduates not possessing the basic skill set for the jobs is really a matter of concern for the upcoming generations.

This grave situation is not limited to engineers of one trade or only to engineers, this is the same case with doctors, management graduates, and every aspect of academia.

To tackle this, India needs a comprehensive higher education policy that can help the universities to the confluence with industries and make the youth Atmanirbhar.

Let's discuss an idea to transform India into Atmanirbhar Bharat in the next article(post)


  1. Well researched writeup it will be useful for colleges, universities , employers and job seekers to understand the Indian job market post pandemic.


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