Why Rural Students Find It Hard to Get a White-Collar Job

I was travelling to work last Monday with a friend. Both my friend and I have migrated to the city from our respective villages, first for higher education, and now jobs. I work in the city for five days, spend two days of the weekend in the village and then travel back to the city on Monday. But I am one of the luckiest among my peers to have a stable, fair-paying job where I have to work only for five, and not six, days. And this, the job situation and how our peers are faring in it, was the topic of discussion on our two-hours’ bus journey that day.

Many students migrate to the cities from Wada, Vikramgad and Palghar talukas every year for professional courses, especially engineering and medicine. But they find it hard to get a well-paying job after graduation. The reasons are multiple. To begin with, they cannot compete with city students for seats in eminent colleges, so they are forced to take admission in sub-standard institutions, which lack laboratories, good teachers and any extracurricular activity on campus. Therefore, even though they manage to scrape through the course and graduate, the actual learning is little. And it is too late when they realise that a degree certificate is not a passport for a job.

The lack of fluency in English, as well as communication skills in general, acts as another major hurdle towards that coveted white-collar job. But it will be quite ignorant and insensitive to blame the students here. It is not their fault, really. Corporate sector is the fiefdom (and I don’t use this term pejoratively here) of upper class/upper caste urbanites. If a village boy/girl aspires to get entry here, they have to play by the rules that are set by these upper class/upper caste urbanites. The knowledge that these corporations are run on is theirs, the language is theirs, the workplace culture is theirs; even the food is theirs!

Students cannot stay back in their villages either. There are no well-paying jobs. Agriculture is not profitable (it never was). And the contact with cities and the incessant consumption of ads through television has made them “aspirational”. So village is no more good enough for them, and cities are not very welcoming either. No wonder most of them feel frustrated and depressed in general.

6 thoughts on “Why Rural Students Find It Hard to Get a White-Collar Job

    • Start early. Start when you are in school itself. Read as much as possible, at least read a newspaper daily. Take part in extra-curriculars as much as possible. Gaining fluency over English takes years. Keep this fact in mind and do not depend on your school/college for the same; take efforts at individual level. Also, remember that passing exams/getting good marks/getting a degree doesn’t automatically result in a job. Hence, focus on actual learning and not exams.

  1. I too was expecting to read a lot more about this from you! Perhaps another bus trip will yield another blog post.

    But that aside, I think there are some generalizations that you are making here. First, it is not that rural students cannot compete with their urban counterparts for entry into these colleges — many of them have (such as yourself) and they will continue to do so given that the salience of school quality is diminishing in rural India (and this is a conjecture, but I will say so because of the advent of new learning technology that is accessible even to them). Next, the corporate sector takes the fall for not being rural-friendly — while this is not always the case, I would emphasize that yes, everyone needs to be homogenized if you have those type of white-collar aspirations. The solution then is to be a job creator rather than a job seeker, perhaps (easier said than done, but still worth contemplating, since we are assuming that rural students are not necessarily less talented compared to urbanites).

    • Very few students manage to get admission in good colleges; there will always be exceptions but they shouldn’t distract us from the larger point. Also, technology can NEVER EVER be the solution. We always need to focus on sociocultural factors if we are trying to find solutions to a problem. But I agree with your point about homogenization, though not everybody will be comfortable with that prospect, in theory at least. And I also agree with your last point. That actually should be the ideal way out this imbroglio.

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