Anup hails from a village in Chattarpur in south Delhi and earns `350 a day. He was determined to give his daughter Payal a quality education so that she could secure a job for herself. He said, “We are regularly reminded to get Neha married by our friends and relatives, but I wanted to stand by my daughter. When I saw women in higher positions during my various jobs, I always dreamt of my own daughters becoming professionals one day. That’s when I wanted her to get good skills to get a good job.”
Today, Payal has enrolled herself for a unique skill development programme initiated by Plan India, a nationally registered independent child development and humanitarian organisation in New Delhi.
Payal said, “I want to make my parents proud, especially my father who has stood by my side. My training at Saksham prepared me for the world of work. I have experienced a change in myself ever since I started working. I feel I have become fearless. Now, I feel confident to deal with anyone and speak up for myself.”
“I feel very happy to see that Payal is earning a decent salary and is also continuing her higher education through distance learning,”Anup added.
Women empowerment through skill development
According to reports by the National Skill Development Initiative, at present, the capacity of skill development in India is around 3.1 million persons per year. The 11th Five Year Plan envisions an increase in that capacity to 15 million annually. India has a target of creating around 500 million skilled workers by 2022. The study proves that there is a pressing need for increasing capacity and capability of skill development programmes in the country.
For young girls and women who hail from a poor background, finding decent employment is tough. India has one of the largest and youngest populations in the world yet women continue to remain economically vulnerable. According to an Ernst and Young survey, 80% of the Indian workforce does not possess identifiable marketable skills. One of the primary reasons is the absence of skill building process in our education system and an inability to provide suitable and locally relevant programmes because of which there exists a huge demand-supply gap when it comes to a skilled workforce.
The Ernst & Young study also states that more than 75% of future job opportunities will be skill-based. The youth, and especially young girls and women should be trained in basic IT skills, presentation and etiquette, and language skills that enable them to hold basic conversation in English.
Governmental and non-governmental initiatives
However, various governmental and non-governmental initiatives are being taken to provide a holistic education to the girl and women of our society. Programmes like Saksham, is providing marginalised women in India with new opportunities to become entrepreneurs.
With Saksham, 19-year- old Ruchi (name changed) is also working with a major coffee chain in an urban Delhi village. Ruchi who was educated till class 12, had to dropout due to financial crisis. Many women like Ruchi have found new avenues, freedom and confidence to bring a change in their communities. Ruchi said, “Before joining Saksham, I had absolutely no idea I would be working with a major coffee chain. The boost I received for my confidence has stayed with me ever since. I find the whole retail business fascinating.”
There should be more programmes like Saksham to equip disadvantaged youth, especially young girls from marginalised communities with knowledge and skills.
Saksham educates young girls in the age group between 18 and 29 years, with skill development training in line with the market demand for three to six months, after which they are given employment opportunities in major companies in retail sector.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India, told BE, “ ‘Saksham’ initiative has particularly focused on ensuring equal opportunities to girls from its programme communities for skill building. More than 2500 girls have been trained at the Saksham Centres and have been placed in various multinational companies. The programme is not just about skill building and jobs but it is also ensuring that the girls are able to make the choices for themselves whether it’s about higher education, jobs or about marriage. Saksham has ensured that these girls will not only choose better options for themselves but will also influence their families and communities.”
Saksham provides a free of cost course for the youth. Started in 2010, Saksham has placed over 50% women till now, who are earning up to `10,000 per month. The programme has also been expanded to cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad, Rajasthan, and Bangalore.
Governmental initiatives like the Pradahan Mantri Kausal Vikas Yojna, National Skills Development Corporation, National Skills Development Mission as well as the Ministry of Labour and Employment are geared towards strengthening the link between skill development and employment. For instance, training of trainers and vocational training for girls are being conducted by Advanced Training Institutes and Regional Vocational Training Institutes run by the Ministry. Vocational education and training are essential mechanisms of any strategy to improve farm and non-farm productivity that improve rural incomes.
Women often have different training needs than men, since they are more likely to work as contributing family workers, subsistence farmers, home-based micro entrepreneurs, or low-paid seasonal labourers, in addition to handling their domestic work and care responsibilities. Skills development, apart from generating employment will also provide job opportunities for women and lead to sustainable rural development.