India – An Antarlaapika
India is an Antarlaapika in which the answers to its puzzle/riddle are hidden within the riddle itself.
Informal economy is Huge: If the economy were an iceberg, the informal size would be hidden beneath the water surface, encompassing a huge range of occupations. Farming and construction would be among them. So would car repair shops, traders, shop owners, textile workers and Beedi rollers.
India's challenge: Productive employment is still Skill-Intensive while the workforce is not.
The formal sector meanwhile has a different problem: Vacancies. There are over 5800 vacancy seats for judges; the vacancy rates for general physicians in the Indian Public Health system is over 32%, Elementary schools in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar need 4 lakh teachers. In the private sector 56 percent of employees find it difficult to fill vacant roles. Even when these roles are filled it takes another 1 year to train them for work.
India has a skewed profile: Too few have completed secondary education as compared to other countries. This situation has a rise in part because India invests heavily in tertiary education while not investing enough in primary and secondary education. As a result, the education profile is peculiar; citizens tend to be either highly educated or minimally educated with not many in between. One of the ways that can right this talent mismatch is by focusing on its secondary educated workforce.
We need to simultaneously ramp up skills, focus more on secondary education and free up room for more employers to move informal work closer to the formal end of the spectrum. This is the key to India's jobs puzzle.