Linking education to jobs will be a major priority, new human resource development (HRD) minister MM Pallam Raju said on Wednesday. He echoed a theme that Rahul Gandhi has identified as key ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
Raju, who took charge on Wednesday, said he was concerned about the growing gap between education offered at professional institutions and the employability of graduates.
He referred to a recent report by a think tank that found only 17% of India's engineering graduates employable in the IT industry.
"That is a concern," Raju said.
Top government sources confirmed to HT that Raju's statement outlines what Rahul Gandhi - who is expected to lead the party in 2014 - is set to focus on as he takes on a more prominent role within the Congress.
At a time when the West, Japan and China are aging, India offers the world's largest chunk of population in the working age (15-59).
Leveraging this demographic dividend could help India gain an additional 2% GDP growth annually, the IMF has said.
But ensuring jobs for the youth during an uncertain economy is proving a challenge. Gandhi wants to focus on winning that battle.
"In multiple meetings with younger party leaders, he has made it clear that meeting the yearning of India's youth for quality jobs is a crucial priority for him," a source said.
Just hours after Raju spoke in Delhi, Gandhi, addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh, talked repeatedly about job creation, promising better employment opportunities for the youth.
On Monday, junior minister for HRD Jitin Prasad referred to Gandhi's focus on job creation for the youth.
"As Rahulji has already identified, ensuring employment for our youth will be a key priority," Prasad said while joining office.
Both Raju and Prasad have also spoken about focusing on skill development.
"There is a large gap between the skills graduates carry when they come out of college, and what industry wants," Raju said.