Rebuilding Rural India by Empowering the Youth
Skill development needs to be addressed in a market-focused way to achieve the desired results. Establishing employment exchanges or improving the provision of training in public institutions are high-impact interventions
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With half of India’s population expected to be in rural India by 2050 and the bulk of workforce emanating from rural India accounting for 70% of the total workforce, there is a pressing need to make quality skill training more accessible to the rural youth. According to the World Economic Forum, on average, an Indian worker today needs about 100 days for reskilling to be ready for future jobs by 2022. Today, India is sitting on a goldmine of raw talent, waiting to be nurtured, developed, and added to the growing human resource pool. India has majority of its population below the age of 25, a number that will look for jobs for the next decade. It is important to engage the rural youth in a productive way to make them future-ready and ensure a sustainable livelihood. Apart from the technical skills, the rural youth have to be trained in cognitive and interpersonal skills to adapt to a technology-enabled, and truculent world.
Skilling in the times of COVID-19
The turmoil caused by the pandemic has resulted in not just millions of workers moving back to the hinterland but also created new demand patterns for jobs. Rural youth have to be equipped with new skills to be able to have a sustainable livelihood adapting to the emerging trends. Amidst the lockdown, the skill development programs have been affected by institutes being shut for a long time. Although remote education is the new normal, internet connectivity, availability of devices, learning platforms, the preparedness of instructors and learners are some of the key challenges that need to be addressed in rural India. Skill India is encouraging skill seekers to acquire new skills and utilize their time effectively. NSDC’s eLearning aggregator portal — eSkill India has been offering curated courses in partnership with various knowledge partners to provide varied online skilling opportunities. Through effective skill development, these youth will be prepared to adapt to the evolving challenges and support the recovery efforts, after the COVID-19 crisis.
Building a collaborative skill ecosystem
One of the major challenges affecting the efficiency of this skill development program is the lack of awareness around the opportunities, and numerous government skilling initiatives. Different stakeholders including NGOs, the government, the corporate sector, social businesses are operating in a collaborative ecosystem to address the need of competency-based skill-oriented training and placement, capacity building, promoting entrepreneurial activities, and up-skilling for agricultural and allied practices. Empowering human capital through Skill Development is essential for developing the country's economy. The CSR teams of companies are creating an impact in empowering the rural youth in local communities engaging with the ITI and polytechnic institutions in the villages. They also counsel to determine their interest and enable different types of in-demand skills and achieving real-world outcomes.
Skill Development Initiatives in rural Tamil Nadu
For instance, in Padavedu at Thiruvannamalai District in Tamil Nadu, a social arm of a corporate in collaboration with Sathya Sai Seva Foundation (i.e NGO) initiated the Sathya Sai
Skill Training Centre to improve the competency of the youth members, and make them employable for their self-sustainability. This training centre offers wide range of certified training courses in electrical, plumbing, tailoring, masonry, and mechanics for the youth in the villages across Tamil Nadu. The trust conducts both theoretical and practical examinations to evaluate the performance of the participants. After completion of 3 months of training the beneficiaries are rewarded with certificates. The trust also provides with certified tailoring training for young women in the age group of 18-30 in Erikuppam village, near Padavedu to improve their productivity, ensure economic empowerment and build their confidence. Rural women were helped to start tailoring garment unit to nurture their entrepreneurial skills.
The trust has been closely working with local institutes and various government departments towards imparting both soft skills and technical education to the economically weaker background across villages in Tamil Nadu. The trust has been consistently organizing skill development programmes like training sessions, job mela, and programs with partner organizations. Such initiatives have benefitted 45000 rural youth, out of which 90% of them were employed.
Future Landscape of Skill Development
Skills development programs can help mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, either in the immediate coping phase or when economies start to recover. It is the need of the hour to provide adequate skill training to this significantly large workforce so that they can become a major part of the economy through various evolving job opportunities in health, sanitation, home deliveries, and at MSME’s. Skill development needs to be addressed in a market-focused way to achieve the desired results. Establishing employment exchanges or improving the provision of training in public institutions are high-impact interventions. The impact of working together to produce a more skilled and employable workforce will drive national growth and will be also helpful to break the cycle of poverty.
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