Business is booming in India’s $117 billion education industry, and new colleges are popping up at breakneck speed. Yet thousands of young Indians are finding themselves graduating with limited or no skills, undercutting the economy at a pivotal moment of growth.

Desperate to get ahead, some of these young people are paying for two or three degrees in the hopes of finally securing a job. They are drawn to colleges popping up inside small apartment buildings, or inside shops in marketplaces. Highways are lined with billboards for institutions promising job placements.

It’s a strange paradox. India’s top institutes of technology and management have churned out global business chiefs like Alphabet's Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella.