With "jobless growth" being a persistent feature of official statistics over the past decade, the Union Budget is being keenly watched for measures to spur employment and skilling, particularly in the context of increasing urbanisation.
The Budget+ is expected to tackle this area of concern that the Modi government has inherited from the UPA and which was highlighted by Congress in its critique of the economy released by former PM Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P Chidambaram. The government has been engaged with the issue of creating more quality jobs and this has been an important part of Niti Aayog's task and the Budget is expected to reflect initiatives to improve opportunities for the youth.
BJP sources said the absorption of graduates and school finishers in the workforce was a major political concern as a large section of those in the employable age did not have adequate skills. Going by the Modi government's stated reluctance to hand out doles, the focus could be on creating facilities for training and encouraging growth in sectors that are expected to boost employment.
The President's address to Parliament+ on Tuesday noted that the government had been working to create new avenues and make technical education more accessible to students, particularly those from economically weaker sections. ITI trainees have been provided academic equivalence of matriculation and higher secondary level through bridge courses, and initiatives like online learning offering a path to a degree are steps in the same direction.
The government is looking to address a scenario where increasing urbanisation is forcing rural workforce to look for employment outside the agriculture sector. Also, there was a long felt need to reduce the percentage of the workforce dependent on a sector that contributed between 15-17% of the GDP. The increasing 'rurban' areas represent a challenge as they are regions in transition where the traditional economy is changing.
The aspirations of the younger segment of the population, whether rural or urban, are also geared to the modern economy. The skilling objective was mentioned by the President in his references to the "har haath ko hunar" motto as he noted that an umbrella ministry was not coordinating these efforts. The PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana aims to train over one crore youth in the next four years.