Skills in India: Time for India Inc to boost the livelihood agenda of the country

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Published: January 23, 2017 5:32:06 AM

A slew of mature entities are coming up with ed-tech and skills-tech solutions providing the much-needed innovation and scalability to good skills initiatives in the country

skills-lThere are five institutions in the city that have come together to take the responsibility to transform the lives of young folk like Mrinal.

Meet Mrinal, a young woman from Pune who got married six years back, suffered two years with a violent alcoholic husband and finally left him to return home with her daughter. Faced with a bleak future with her confidence shattered and no skills to face the world and find a livelihood to support herself and her daughter, Mrinal was counseled, trained and mentored and is today a nursing assistant at a local hospital with dreams of becoming a fully certified nurse in future.

There are five institutions in the city that have come together to take the responsibility to transform the lives of young folk like Mrinal. Dream Catchers provides the aspiration and “agency” building that creates a dream of a better life and instils the confidence to go ahead and make the dream a reality, NES provides technology enablement through video walls, augmented and virtual reality to bring “near real” experiences into the classroom, Shyamchi Ai provides counseling and career guidance services to set the young aspirant on the right track, Jagruti
provides the hands-on training through experienced practitioners for becoming a nursing assistant and Life School encourages participants to develop the life skills needed to become a better professional.

The Million Jobs Mission Conclave in Delhi this month is showcasing 15 “Design Partners” to a galaxy of potential implementation partners and foundations willing to fund such social innovators to scale and the response has been tremendous. Apart from NES, which is presenting the technology interventions in skilling through a consortium of many entities including Prava Foundation and its Abilities beyond Skills intervention, there are new ideas in the skills development and enhancement for employment and entrepreneurship.

Cases in point are The Nudge Foundation, which conducts a 100-day Gurukul that balances life and livelihood skills with literacy and job opportunity counselling, the Quest Alliance that deploys toolkits for English communication, workplace readiness, digital life skills and career pathways. In the entrepreneurship area, there are initiatives like the DeAsra Foundation, Vrutti and Industry.

Unlike the first generation of skills development where it was only new entrepreneurs with good intentions who partnered with the NSDC and other government initiatives to address the skills agenda with passion but inadequate technology, the new wave is seeing the participation of mature entities like IIT alumni through the Pan IIT Reach for India initiative and McKinsey Global Institute which is bringing deep research and action orientation through its Generation programme. There is reason to be optimistic that with all these worthy initiatives as part of the Million Jobs Mission, the guiding hand of SVP and the bridges being built between design and implementation, policy making and funding, we will see success in the creation of new livelihoods at a fast clip in the months and years to come.

There is an imperative for corporate India to come forward through the provision of CSR funds, technology solutions and volunteers to support and boost the livelihood agenda of the country. Experiences at Nasscom Foundation have been heartening, where member companies of Nasscom have willingly come forward to provide support to the National Digital Literacy Mission through NDLM centres, the Digital Libraries establishment all over the country and employable skills generation in second and third tier towns in the country.

In future, we need to see many more ed-tech and skills-tech solutions providing the much-needed innovation and scalability to good skills initiatives in the country. We also need at least a few thousand crores of funding from corporations and a similar amount from foundations and large allocations from local, state and Central government in the coming Budget and in the next decade to ensure that the promise of a truly inclusive India with opportunities for Mrinal and two hundred million of her countrymen are realised!

The writer is chairman of 5F World and global board director of Social Venture Partners

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