Women In Labour Force Participation Set to Skewer: NSDC Study

In News

An internal study conducted by the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) shows that the labour force participation of women in the economy will only be 23.3% by 2023. This is low compared to many other developing countries.


  • According to the study conducted by the NSDC, 7 crore additional individuals in the working age of 15-59 years are expected to enter the labour market by 2023.
  • Of this, 5.9 crore individuals, that is 84.3% will be in the age group of 15-30 years.
  • But, this demographic dividend is drastically skewed towards women.
  • As per the study, only 1 in 5 individuals entering the workforce will be a woman. It accounts for only 20.1% of the total labour force that would enter the market in 2023.

Gender Skew

  • The National Statistical Office’s (NSO) Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLSF) for the year 2017-18 estimated that female participation in the labour force for ages 15 and above was only 23.3%.
  • Compared to Asian countries like China – 61%, Vietnam – 73%, Singapore – 60%, and Bangladesh – 36%, India lags far behind.
  • The countries that come close to India are Lebanon – 24%, Pakistan – 24%, Tunisia – 24% and Sudan – 24%. The data is from the World Bank.

Global Phenomenon

  • There is a decline in female participation in the labour force globally since the last decade.
  • From 49.09% in 2009 to 48.11% in 2013 and 47.66% in 2019, there is a steady decline.

Experts View

  • Experts are of the opinion that there is no need to worry about the NSDC projections.
  • They say that a major shift would happen in the youth population in the coming 10-15 years.
  • Women in the age group of 15-19 will opt for higher education than to participate in the workforce.
  • So, finding women’s participation in the age group of 20-34 years will be meaningful.

Data for Skilling

  • According to the study, 52% of the male entrants and 42.6% of the female entrants will be in the age group of 15-20 years.
  • NSDC, which is a public-private-partnership under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, is using the data to modify skills training modules going ahead.

Other Findings

  • Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar will account for 50% of the new entrants (15-30 years) into the labour force during 2019-23 period.
  • 30% of the youth entrants (15-30) will be from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.


Higher female participation in the labour force will augur well for the economy. Though there are some limitations to the study, it will definitely help the government address the skilling problem. 

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