Skills.in

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Skills.in is a PACS initiative that has supported over 8000 young people from socially excluded groups to develop vocational employment skills – in healthcare, hospitality, mechanics and other trades - that will help them to enter the job market. In addition, the Skills.in model  has been proactively engaging with employers, promoting the importance of having an inclusive, non-discriminatory workforce and work environment.

Why is access to skills training an issue for socially excluded groups?

India is poised to become the world’s "youngest country" by 2020 with an average age of 29 years. It will also account for around 28% of the world’s workforce (UN Habitat report, April 2013). The increasing working population poses numerous challenges as well as opportunities for a country like India.

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. The youthful demographic profile combined with opening markets means that it is imperative to invest in building necessary vocational and life skills needed for employment amongst youth.

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 other organisations. However, in general, this training has not been accessible for people from socially excluded groups.

Young people from socially excluded groups - Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Muslims, women or those living with a disability - face multiple institutional and social barriers that prevent them from accessing the growing employment opportunities.

Discrimination against these groups is high. For example, young people who come from tribal communities are often viewed as “backward”, disabled people find themselves facing prejudice about their ability to carry out certain jobs, caste-based discrimination is ingrained in society and, as in many countries, employers often favour male candidates over female.

This discrimination results in multiple employment barriers, and so unemployment rates for people from these communities is high.

What work has PACS done on skills?

To challenge the social and economic barriers that youth from socially excluded groups face in accessing skills and employment opportunities,PACS established the Skills.in - or Skills for Inclusion - programme

In each area where the project was running, the Skills.in model essentially involved the following three phases:

1. Pre-Training - a skills-gap study was completed for each area to:

  • Understand the local employment market, for example the types of jobs available and the skills needed for those jobs
  • Start developing relationships with local employers including malls, fast food outlets and telecommunication companies
  • Identify potential young people for the project including asking them what they want to do and what skills they feel they are missing
  • Develop a specific training course for that area based on the findings of the study

2. Training – young people were trained for 2-3 months (dependent on the course and location) at residential and non-residential training centres. The training includes:

  • Job-specific practical and technical skills.
  • Personal skills such as dress code, interview preparation, CV writing, public speaking and basic IT.
  • Lectures from industry and business professionals. In time, successful ex-students will also be invited to speak about their experiences in employment.
  • Opportunities to interact with local employers to understand first-hand what they are looking for.

3. Post-Training – having completed the course, all young people were offered:

  • Placements with local employers (with employer feedback for improvement)
  • Mentoring and support (including phone calls and meet-ups) over the following 6 months
  • Membership to an alumni association

While helping young people from socially excluded categories to acquire vocational and workplace skills, the Skills.in programme has also focused on pursuing a strong advocacy agenda with local industry and employers to promote an inclusive workforce and work environment.

Some employers are discriminative against employing young people from socially excluded groups and so it has been important to work with them to help them to understand the benefit of employing young people from these communities. For example, the employment retention rate for socially excluded groups is extremely high and, having completed the Skills.in training, these young people are well trained in specific trades, making them very employable if they're given a chance.

PACS has been partnering with three organisations to implement the Skills.in programme across 31 districts in six of the seven PACS states (not including Madhya Pradesh):

  • Don Bosco Tech (DB Tech)
 - DB Tech was set up in 2006 with an objective to provide quality vocational training to disadvantaged youth. It has a network of 176 skill training centres across 25 states. PACS is partnering with DB Tech to implement Skills.in in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh
  • IndiaCan – IndiaCan has 4 years experience in developing the skills of unemployed young people. It operates in multiple states through its network of more than 280 centers across India. PACS is partnering with IndiaCan to implement Skills.in in West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.
  • Samarthanam Trust for Disabled - Samarthanam runs Livelihood Resource Centres that provide skilling and employment support to young people with disabilities. PACS is partnering with Samarthanam to implement Skills.in in Jharkhand, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

What impact has PACS skills work had?

  • In total, PACS has trained 8342 young people from socially excluded groups through the Skills.in programme. Of these, 6692 (80%) had found job placements when the PACS programme ended in March 2016.
  • 3497 (42%) trained candidates were women, 3073 (37%) were from Scheduled Caste communities, 2444 (29%) were from Scheduled Tribes, 1390 (17%) were from Muslim communities and 3024 (4%) were youth with disabilities.
  • 3138 of the candidates were trained in Retail and Sales, 1461 in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), 816 in IT, 663 in Hospitality, 561 in Mechanics and Automobile Repair, 529 in Electrics, 492 in Health and Patient Care, 490 in Data Entry and General Administration, 98 in Industrial Sewing Machine Operation and 94 in Basic Welding.
Roohi is a young disabled woman from a Muslim community in Uttar Pradesh. Thanks to her three month Skills.in training, she now works for Aegis - a large Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company.
Kanchan is a young woman from a tribal community in Odisha. Thanks to her three month Skills.in training, she now has a job at a Medanta Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi as a General Duty Assistant. 

Arabinda is a young man from a Dalit community in Odisha. Thanks to his three month Skills.in training, he now has a job as a waiter at a local restaurant and hotel.

Find more Skills.in case studies on the PACS Learning Zone.


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