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Skilling Up Disabled Youth

15 September 2015 Share: facebook share twitter share

On 15 September, Mr Ambika Chaudhary – the Minister for Welfare of Backward Classes and Development of Persons with Disabilities, Government of Uttar Pradesh – officially inaugurated a Livelihood Resource Centre for young people with disabilities, supported by PACS and the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The centre will train 100 youth with disabilities in vocational and interpersonal skills and facilitate job placement for them, whilst also working with employers to help them understand the importance of an inclusive, non-discriminatory workforce.

Mr Ambika Chaudhary - Minister for Welfare of Backward Classes and Development of Persons with Disabilities - inaugurates the Skills.in centre in Lucknow.

The need for inclusive skills training

In India, the service sector is growing to meet the demand from the burgeoning middle classes. As a result, there are a lot of jobs emerging in industries such as IT, hospitality and retail.

54% of India’s population is below 25 years of age. However, many young people are traditionally educated, lacking the skills needed by the markets.

To meet demand for a skilled workforce there has already been an increase in the promotion and provision of skills training by the Government of India and various organisations. However, in general, this training has not been accessible to people from socially excluded groups.

In 2014 PACS launched its Skills.in programme, specifically aimed at offering vocational skills training to young people from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Muslim communities, along with women and youth with disabilities.

Skilling up disabled youth

On 15 September, a Livelihood Resource Centre that has been established under the PACS programme in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, was inaugurated by Mr Ambika Chaudhary – the Minister for Welfare and Handicapped from the Government of Uttar Pradesh.

The centre has been set up by disability partner SPARC India with support from PACS and the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Its aim is to equip disabled young people with essential vocational and life skills required for employment. The centre has two separate classrooms, a computer room, a staff room and a space for the trainees to have lunch alongside residential facilities on a twin sharing basis.

At the centre, the trainees are learning interpersonal skills, technical business skills and other “work readiness” skills that will prepare them for appropriate trades such as call centre executives, customer care executives and retail positions, taking into account their disabilities.

The centre will also facilitate the job placement of trainees after successful completion of the training programme. The candidates will then be tracked and provided handholding support for a minimum period of six months to support them in their roles.

Government support

Mr Chaudhary met some of the current batch of 42 students (19 women and 23 men) who are undergoing the 3-month residential training course at the centre.

He praised the initiative and said that his government will make all possible efforts to improve the development process for disabled youth and create opportunities to help them become self-reliant.

He also said that extended support will be given to SPARC to enable further skill development programmes and to focus on how to improve other livelihood programmes for youth with disabilities.

Young women from the centre meet with Mr Ambika Chaudhary - the Minister for Welfare of Backward Classes and Development of Persons with Disabilities. Two of the centre's current students greet Mr Ambika Chaudhary - the Minister for Welfare of Backward Classes and Development of Persons with Disabilities, Government of Uttar Pradesh.

Improving employment for youth with disabilities

A panel discussion entitled “Creating Employment Opportunities for Youths with Disabilities” was also held during the event, which stimulated an interesting debate on role of Government, corporate and civil society in creating opportunities for young people with disabilities.

Panel members included representatives from reputed corporates along with government officials and civil society organisations including GAIL, Aegies, TCS, ITC, IIA, NSDC, REC, and VRC.

One critical component of the Skills.in programme is to pursue a strong advocacy agenda with industry and employers to create a discrimination free and inclusive work environment and so it was encouraging to see so many businesses represented at the event.

All panel members said that they would help to sustain the programme and help young people with disabilities to learn and grow through specialised training. There were also discussions around the importance of developing disability-friendly infrastructure to improve access and mobility for disabled employees.

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