India’s demographic dividend places it at an advantageous position with respect to economic growth, with 12.8 million people entering the workforce annually. But experts caution that this demographic advantage may well turn into a liability if skill development doesn’t grow proportionally. There is a real risk that a major portion of the population will be rendered unemployable as the country progresses into a knowledge and digital economy.
One of the big hindrances is unequal access to relevant digital education and skills. According to the World Bank, India needs to invest in quality secondary and tertiary education and in vocational education and training (VET) to remain competitive in world markets. The Government of India recognised the need to mainstream skill-based education in the 12th Five Year Plan document and also set the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to coordinate all skill development efforts across the country. On the ground, several NGOs, educational trusts and CSR initiatives are supporting the government’s efforts to ensure skill development doesn’t leave any demographic behind.
Skilling the youth
Though enterprises have been investing in staying on top of latest technological developments, their impact has barely touched semi-urban and rural areas. Anudip Foundation is making underserved youth digital-disruption-proof by training them for crowdsourced online work platforms, in tasks such as making machine vision safer for driverless cars, motion capture annotation and image tagging. Anudip graduates go on to work in machine learning, Artificial Intelligence and other breakthrough technologies that traditional education hasn’t kept up with.
Quest Alliance, on the other hand, is bridging the soft skills gap in traditional education, recognising their potential to enhance employability. It imparts training in communicative English, life skills, digital literacy etc. to make the youth job ready. Watch the video below to see how Quest Alliance is creating a confident workforce.
Skilling India’s women
Some NGOs are working to unlock an untapped human resource - women - with the insight that when women are empowered, they empower entire communities in turn. READ India trains rural women in basic skills such as computer literacy, reading and writing, craft etc. to improve their self-sufficiency. SEWA aims to empower women in India’s burgeoning informal employment sector. Through its initiative, Gitanjali, it has helped waste recyclers earn up to sevenfold increase in their income by training them in additional skills. The increased respect in society, though, is what its beneficiaries consider to be their biggest gain from the programme.
NGOs are also bringing entrepreneurial skills to rural India and have designed their programmes to suit the ground realities of its beneficiaries. MAYA Health addresses rural India’s lack of access to basic healthcare by training women to become health navigators - equipped with basic healthcare skills and know how - who provide doorstep health services. MAYA health’s health navigators are not its employees, but entrepreneurs in India’s rural healthcare sector. Mann Deshi Udhyogini is the first-of-its-kind business school for women who have never received formal education. It imparts rural women with MBA skills while ensuring least disruption in their daily routines. Its model is to take business training to the women, by providing doorstep banking service and business school on wheels. Watch the video below to see how Mann Deshi foundation creates entrepreneurs out of rural women.
Empowering People with Disabilities
Prioritising the inclusion of people with disabilities (PwDs), who account for 2-3% of India’s population, some NGOs are providing targeted attention to the disadvantaged youth of the country. These organisations aim to fill the gaps in conventional education and make PwDs employment-ready. TRRAIN trains PwDs for employment in the retail sector and its 45-day training programme has proved to be transformational for its beneficiaries. In a similar vein, Dr Reddy Foundation’s Grow programme aims to impart soft skills, communication skills, spoken english etc. that would boost confidence and work-readiness among its trainees. Craftizen has a unique approach to confidence building. It brings the joy, and skill, of crafts to people with disabilities and opens up avenues for income generation where traditional employment isn’t feasible.
But with 70% of the PwD population of India residing in rural areas, lack of access to government and NGO programmes is an additional hindrance to self-sufficiency. Enable India has turned to technology to address this problem. It pioneered a mobile social networking platform - called Namma Vaani in Karnataka and Hamari Vaani in North India - that connects PwDs from rural areas and provides them access to information about employment opportunities, disability-specific schemes, useful tips and tricks etc.
Partnering with these organisations to equip marginalised people with the skills to get a job or build a business is a target set by Accenture India’s CSR initiative - Skills to Succeed. By leveraging its expertise in 40 industries, the CSR initiative aims to enhance the economic vitality and resilience of individuals, families and communities. Apart from helping the NGO partners scale their operations, the initiative also supports them with measuring outcomes, pro-bono consulting, cash donations, employee volunteering and fundraising efforts. Watch how Accenture’s Skills to Succeed initiative is contributing to a skilled and empowered workforce, here.
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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Accenture and not by the Scroll editorial team.