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Punjab sees 4x rise in overseas study enrolments, 27% growth in job applications

The majority of job candidates have applied for entry- and mid-level positions, spanning sectors such as retail, business services and manufacturing. (HT)
The majority of job candidates have applied for entry- and mid-level positions, spanning sectors such as retail, business services and manufacturing. (HT)

Summary

  • Spike in migration to Canada, Australia and Europe for studies and jobs

Non-bank lenders, recruiters and consultants are witnessing a five-fold increase in education loan applications from students and young professionals from Punjab looking to Canada, Australia and Europe.

The majority of these applications originate from major cities such as Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala and Mohali, as well as smaller towns like Barnala, Khanna, Muktsar, Firozpur and Faridkot.

According to experts, the challenging job market in the state is prompting young individuals to explore overseas opportunities. “GyanDhan has observed a threefold increase in loan applications between 2021 and 2023. Remarkably, Punjab has surpassed this trend with a fivefold surge in loan applications since 2021," said Ankit Mehra, co-founder and chief executive of the non-banking financial company (NBFC).

The majority of these aspiring students are pursuing various levels of education, including diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Popular fields of study include science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as medical courses.

“One interesting trend is students hailing from Punjab opt for more budget-friendly colleges, resulting in an average loan request of 10 lakh. This is in stark contrast to the national average loan request of around 33 lakh," Mehra added.

Enrolments from Punjab were 4x for the April-June quarter of FY24 versus the same period in FY23, said Ankur Dhawan, president, upGrad Abroad. Dhawan said loans for studying abroad for states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are mostly for the US.

Overseas job applications from Punjab are also on the rise. “There has been a 27% year-on-year rise in job applications from Punjab for international destinations. This is a significant increase and is not constrained to some specific location, viz. Canada, but is spread across Australia, the US and parts of Europe," Pranshu Upadhyay, regional director at search firm Michael Page, said.

The majority of candidates have applied for entry- and mid-level positions, spanning sectors such as retail, business services and manufacturing. Interestingly, this trend is not limited to international destinations; there’s been a notable increase in job searches in the state as well.

“There is distress in Punjab due to several challenges and we find an increasing number of people enquiring for jobs in the National Capital Region (NCR)," said Aditya Narayan Mishra, the chief executive of recruitment company CIEL HR Services.

Recruiters said the trend could last for a long time. “The conversion of this intent to reality is not happening in a significant way, primarily due to a mismatch between their expectations around jobs and available opportunities. However, I see this as the beginning of a talent migration from Punjab to the NCR," Mishra added.

While NBFCs and recruiters have seen a surge, consultants said selected destinations are no longer restricted to popular countries such as Canada, Australia and the US. “There is about 20% spike in student visa applications from Punjab and Haryana in the last one year," said Nishant Khanna, managing director, Webberz Educomp Ltd.

Khanna estimates a surge will also happen from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir as more students from the northern belt apply for overseas jobs.

As countries like Australia tighten their visa rules, new geographies are gaining favour among international students. In a recent development, Australia announced that it will no longer permit international students to enrol in affordable vocational courses immediately upon arrival in the country, said experts.

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