In the job markets, a higher education degree is often a road to nowhere
education and resource allocation.
Sensing the discontent, the TRS, which recently won a landslide victory in the state polls, has promised to get to work on the unemployment crisis.
But the students are not entirely convinced. They argue that the state’s policy seems to be to dole out cash to all social sections while keeping the workforce unemployed, which would then result in a dependent electorate that would keep the party in power for as long as possible.
“The government gives my mother ₹1,000. I do not want this. Give me a government job instead. I will take care of my mother,” Ellaiah says.
The aspiration for well-paid jobs has led to a situation where many students, like Kalyan Reddy, continue their studies hoping for a decent job at the end.
Sometimes, the intent isn’t even to receive an additional skill. Osmania University and other state-run educational institutions, which were central to the statehood agitation, have now donned a new role.
“Students enrol themselves in public universities to get a subsidized stay while looking for jobs in Hyderabad,” says Manne Krishank, a student leader who was involved in the Telangana statehood agitation and is now with the Congress party.
The fee reimbursement scheme, of which both Kalyan Reddy and Durga Prasad are beneficiaries, helps students continue their education while they continue hunting for jobs.
With information technology jobs drying up, the rise of the gig economy has soaked in some of the labour force, but the kind of employment on offer has only further exacerbated the problem.
“It’s the lack of skill and not the lack of opportunity which is the real problem,” says a senior official in the Telangana government public service commission, who requested anonymity. Doctoral scholars and engineers are among those applying for even gradeiii & IV posts, the official cited above said. He says that most of those who have acquired higher education are certified but are not necessarily better skilled.
“Is it true that there are a lot of people who are well-trained and not finding jobs, or is it that they have only paper qualifications?” asks Prof. Amit Basole, an economist at Azim Premji University.
While lack of skills may indeed be a concern, it is also true that aspirations rise along with higher education and the highly educated are increasingly choosing not to “settle” for just any available job. Private and public sector companies alike increasingly hire on contracts under terms which deny basic job security and social benefits.
The result is the increasing allure of that all-elusive government job, whose charm has only gone up in the eyes of the masses, especially among rural people. Earlier this month, the Karnataka police busted a gang dealing with leaked exam question papers meant to be issued in government tests for bus conductors, police sub-inspectors, constables and other such posts.
“The going rate for a single question paper for the post of a police sub-inspector is ₹40 lakh,” said a senior police official, adding that for a police constable, it is ₹6-7 lakh. Most of the aspirants had paid advances of around ₹1-3 lakh to get their hands on the test paper.
Meanwhile, young men like Kalyan Reddy work hard to get into a central university, which could further subsidize his masters studies and keep him a contender in India’s chaotic job market. “After my masters, I will try to get a job related to my professional qualification. If not, I will try for a government job,” he says.