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Employment, emigration major poll issues

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Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22

The high rate of emigration from Punjab in recent years is proof enough that the youth in the state no longer finds education as a means to employment or future security. With the agrarian economy facing a crisis, no major industry or trade push and lack of conducive entrepreneurial ecosystem, the youth in Amritsar, once a hub of textile and steel industry, are flying out at a worrying pace.

Worrying figures

Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) conducted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), show the estimated unemployment rate for individuals aged 15 years and above in Punjab is 6.2%, 6.4%, and 6.1% during 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23, respectively. Punjab and Haryana share the third position in the list of states with the highest unemployment rates, nationally.

In the run up to the LS polls, all major political candidates have pitched youth-centric development ideas and poll promises, aiming to engage the young voters. Amritsar has 19 lakh registered voters, of which 47 per cent fall under the age of 35. Amritsar has 50,000 first-time voters this time around. Employment and better higher education facilities are the most important issues the young voter will weigh in before they vote on June 1.

“The fact that despite having an IIM, a state university and several other reputed institutions, one of the biggest disadvantage of graduates and postgraduates face here is lack of required skills for employment in corporates. They are not job ready as most of them lack even basic skills,” shared Rishabh Mahajan, who is a young entrepreneur and runs Statusbrew, a digital marketing and management solution start-up, in the city. He has been hosting upskilling workshops for university and college graduates to make them market ready. While he agrees that Amritsar’s youth has a lot of potential, he adds there has been almost zero political participation in creating a job market that is localised.

Prabhleen Sing, 28, a business management developer, with a logistics firm, shares lack of integration of government agencies and industry mentors for young entrepreneurs in the city results in most of the educated, skilled youngsters to look elsewhere for jobs. “Punjab still doesn’t have a city like Bangalore, Ahmedabad or Mumbai, where entrepreneur clusters or industry clusters are created for job generation. Also, Punjab’s industry has its share of disadvantages,” he said. His expectation from his political representative is to work towards creating integrated ecosystem, where start-ups, mentors, government agencies come together to enable job creation.

As for rural youth, drug addiction and lure of foreign land is a major concern and needs not just political but social intervention as well. “All political leaders promise to resolve the drug menace, yet it persists despite change of political parties in power. Unemployment, lack of education and means, topped with drug addiction is a vicious cycle rural youth is stuck in. If agricultural economy is made robust with investment, innovation, may be the situation improves,” shared Navdeep Singh, 31, a young farmer from Majitha.

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