Education and Employment

Ram Rattan Sharma
Education plays an important role in the process of development. In multifarious human activities, social, economic, political, etc. Education is instrumental in developing human resources not only by disseminating knowledge and skills and enhancing capacities, but also by inculcating among the people the right type of attitudes, which are conducive to growth. Phenomenal expansion of education in developing countries in recent years is the result of realization of the importance of education in development. Ironically, however such expansion has also given rise to a serious problem, that of the educated unemployed, which calls for a critical analysis of educational policies of these countries.
Progress in the field of science and technology has invariably been accompanied by greater demand for education, not only for its transmission and application in various sectors of the economy, but also for its further development. Primitive man acquired the elementary skills required for activities like hunting, fishing, gathering of wild fruits, through informal education, The mode of acquiring the skill of rearing animals in the pastoral stage was also informal. With the development of agriculture, man’s knowledge of his environment increased and consequently there was diversification of human occupations. Science and technology development, though at a slow pace, it was this period that saw the dawn of formal education, but it was confined only to the elite. The next stage of development was the handicraft stage marked by increasing knowledge and further diversification of occupations. With the expression of trade, barter trade gave way to the invention of money. New occupations related to commerce and trade evolved, but specialization was a far cry and the trainee craftsman had to acquire proficiency in all the processes involved in the production of an article. A marked change came with the advent of the industrial stage. The industrial revolution originated in England and then spread to other countries. Machines replaced mankind labour and technicians were needed to manufacture and maintain costly machines. General education and technical and Vocational education and training expanded at a rapid pace. More and more sophisticated knowledge and training were needed to sustain and accelerate the growth of industry. The second industrial revolution which started during world war first, was characterized by inventions galore and the use of mass production techniques, which led to further diversification of occupations. With the growing emphasis on science and technology, the importance of research and development came to be recognized, expansion of education was the result of the increasing demand for educated and skilled man power and research and development personnel.
The third industrial revolutions in the 1960’s ushered in the modern age of electronics computer, spacecraft and robotics, it is the age of automation marked by elimination of numerous jobs formerly manned by highly skilled and educated workers, a trend which was accentuated further by scientific management. The fear that haunts the planners is whether this development would ultimately lead to a drastic reduction in the demand for educated and skilled workers. This fear has been reinforced by the emergence of the new phenomenon of jobless growth. According to human development report (1993-94) during 1960-73, even though GDP rose at a fairly respectable rate, in the advanced industrial counties like France, West Germany and U.K. employment level actually fell. In the developing countries too; the trend had set in. In these countries, even though GDP grew by 4.5 percent, employment grew by only half that figure. Evidently this trend affects adversely the demand for educated and skilled workers. On the other hand there are reassuring factors that are keeping up the demand for educated and skilled workers. Firstly, the maintenance of highly sophisticated machines will call for the services of highly educated and trained personnel. Secondly, highly educated and skilled manpower – scientists. Engineers and technicians – continue to be needed more and more by hi-tech industries like chemicals, electronics, petrochemicals, etc. Thirdly, the ever growing emphasis on R&D in both the public and private enterprises will require skilled and trained man power. The slow rate of economic growth led to the creation of fewer job opportunities for the educated and skilled workers, with the technological process in each five year plan, capital/labour ratio has been rising. In other words for giving employment to each worker, more capital is needed now than before, this has adversely affected the capacity of each successive five year plan to generate sufficient employment opportunities with the result that the employment amongst the educated has been rising, educated unemployment particularly, amongst the graduates has been the result of the expansion of education. Whereas, there were 27 universities in 1950 -5/, their number in 1993-94 was 169. With the rapid expansion of education facilities at the university level the turn out rate of graduates has been much more than the capacity of the Indian economy to absorb them, the lack of provision of diversified courses has resulted in the production of graduates, and post graduates with rather similar qualifications. This has led to the emergence of a paradoxical man power situation in Indian economy of surpluses in certain categories coexisting with shortages in others.
The lack of provision of quality education is affecting the quality of products of the education system. Out of 169 Indian universities, none has the standing of Harvard or Stanford University of the USA in providing quality education. As the demand for poor quality products in the market is low, the problem of educated unemployment gets aggravated. Lastly the inability of the education system to provide highly skilled and qualified manpower needed by scientifically and technologically advanced sectors of Indian economy, in a way, adds to the educated unemployment problem. Measures should be taken to step up the rate of economic development. This would cause expansion and acceleration of economic activities in all sectors of the economy, agriculture, industry, trade and commerce, transport, and communication. This would in turn create increased job opportunities for the educated and skilled manpower. Efforts should be made to promote small -scale enterprises and the informal sector through financial and fiscal reforms and the proper legal frame work, it may be pointed out that small enterprises and the informal sector have greater potential for absorption of educated and trained manpower than the large scale capital – intensive enterprises. The govt should promote labour – intensive technologies, especially through tax concessions. At the university level too, Vocational and job oriented courses are being offered, diversified courses are also being offered in technical and professional education.
This process needs to be strengthened and accelerated, the content and process of education be changed so as to prepare students for self employment, rather than for wage employment. This calls for, apart from providing knowledge development of abilities of the students to process information, to solve problems to acquire knowledge on their own etc. It also requires development of personal qualities like initiative, self reliance, readiness to take risks, imagination, capacity for hard work, ability to handle social relations etc. Persons with such capacities will create jobs not only for themselves but also for others; admission to various courses should be made on the basis of projected manpower needed in the economy. This would ensure that educated and skilled persons being turned out by the education institutions correspond to the man power requirements of the economy, jobs should be de-linked from degrees. This measure would help in curbing the present policy of employers to prescribe graduate qualification for most of the jobs, which would in turn reduce demand for higher education.
(The author is former Dy Librarian University of Jammu)