Employment is our priority agenda: PM

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that youth employment is a "high-priority agenda" of his government but felt the infrastructure for the skill- development of young people is progressing slower than he had hoped.

"Youth employment is a high-priority agenda item for our government…We need to provide opportunities for gainful employment to the large number of young people who enter the work force every year," Singh said. In his inaugural address at the 44th session of Indian Labour Conference, the Prime Minister emphasised the need for skill development of the young people. "This can happen only if we equip our young people with skills that are required to meet the demands of our rapidly growing economy," he said.

Maintaining that the rapid growth of Indian economy since 2004 has clearly brought out shortcomings of the country`s skill development processes, he said, "Today, availability of skills is possibly the single-most important constraint to rapid industrial growth." Noting that the process of expanding skill development infrastructure is progressing slower in the country than he had hoped after the government launched Skill Development Mission, Singh urged the private sector to chip in with more vigour.

"The private sector would need to engage itself much more vigorously in these efforts if we are to overcome this massive challenge. Poor students must find it financially viable to learn a skill rather than take up a job prematurely. This requires that industry and government should work together to ensure that such students are adequately financed," he said. Reiterating that his government stands committed to creating a regime of economic management which will usher in more job opportunities, Singh said, "But job opportunities can come only if the economy is expanding, and expanding fast enough."