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No Surprise

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According to news reports, 7000 engineers, graduates and post-graduates have applied for 549 available posts of sanitary workers in Tamil Nadu. This is being interpreted mostly as symptomatic of the job shortage in the economy, these days. However, this is not the first time this has happened and similar incidents have been reported over the years. This has to do with several factors, not all of which can be described as negative. First and foremost, it indicates the obvious disregard among present day youth for the caste element of these jobs, which are attractive in other ways associated with permanent government employment – good salaries, job security, not a very demanding work regime, other perks such as PF, medical benefits, etc. The total perks are better than those provided to many in the private sector. In fact, if anything, those ‘surprised’ by such events probably have the caste element at the back of their minds. The other matter of concern is why those supposedly ‘overqualified’ for a job are applying. While this can be prevented by stipulating a minimum and maximum educational qualification during recruitment, it must be remembered that many of those with engineering, management and other college degrees are actually of very poor quality, unable even to get entry level jobs in the competitive private sector. Very many of these are from private colleges and universities that are little more that factories churning out degrees not worth the paper they are printed on. Governments over the years have been aware of this problem and steps have undoubtedly been taken to raise the standards, but eventually it has been left to the market to cull the laggards. It has been seen in the past few years how several of Uttarakhand’s engineering and other colleges have had to close down because nobody was willing to take admission. At the same time, there is no doubt that many aspirants for the sanitation type jobs are also youth who come from economic backgrounds where they cannot afford to be unemployed and dependent on their families. In fact, better educated youths could actually analyse and improve the conditions in which sanitary workers operate, even invent necessary technical solutions. This situation also highlights the need for the Skill India kind of initiatives where youth can learn employment based skills rather than waste time on useless conventional degrees. The most important aspect of this is the prospect of becoming self-employed and not just earning more than any government employee, but also generating employment for others.