500 million chances for change: how India is leading a skills revolution

500 million chances for change: how India is leading a skills revolution

By Shaleen Rakesh, Executive Director, VSO India 

The Indian Government recently set a target to provide skills training to 500 million young people by 2022! It sounds like an extremely ambitious figure, but it is in line with the estimated demand for skilled manpower over the next decade alone. With the world’s biggest Youth population; if any country is ready to take on this challenge, it’s India.

The government's flagship scheme, Pradhan Mantri Koshalya Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) will incentivise skills training by providing financial rewards to candidates who successfully complete the programme. The scheme particularly aims to recognise and provide skills to youth who lack formal certification, such as workers in the vast, unorganised agricultural sector.

Another flagship programme of the government here is the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Koshalya Yojana(DDUGKY), which aims to teach valuable skills to poor rural youth, and ultimately provide them with jobs that pay regular monthly wages at, or above, the minimum wages set by the government.  

Companies are jumping on board

Many private companies are also backing the government’s call, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plans. Providing skills training to poor and marginalised communities is a key part of VSO India’s strategy, so we are working to develop partnerships with several private sector organisations in order to collaborate on initiatives like these.

One example is our new three year partnership with Bharti Infratel to skills train 3,150 women. The project aims to provide vocational or technical training and job placements to women living in poverty, in slums or informal settlements. By increasing women’s participation in the workforce, the project will increase their income and standard of living, as well as challenge the low social value attached to girls and their education.

Skilling up is the way to sustainability

Sakina Baker, the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Bharti believes that economic independence of women is of paramount importance in today’s world, saying that if corporations have the intent, means and the ability to change the lives of marginalised women, they not only have a positive impact on their individual development but pave the way for the sustainable development of their families as well.

The project will run in five cities: Patna in Bihar, Ranchi in Jharkhand, Raipur in Chhattisgarh, Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and Bhubaneswar in Odisha, and will be implemented by VSO India, along with our local partners. These cities were selected due to the high levels of poverty and informal settlements, as well as indicators showing low numbers of women earning a wage, and overall lack of female empowerment and gender equality. The project will train these women in the areas of hospitality, retail, beauty and wellness, bedside assistance and information technology.

Partnership brings opportunities

VSO India remains committed to providing opportunities for poor and marginalised communities, particularly for women and people with disabilities, thereby contributing to the government’s Skill India initiative. We’re excited about this collaboration with Bharti Infratel as an important step in this direction.