Women’s Skill Development
Women’s empowerment and their work force participation are their fundamental rights which enable them to have control over their lives and in continuation mark their influence in the society. Oftentimes, women face discrimination and gender inequalities in general, but,due to certain hindrances like educational attainment level and social barriers, some women experience multiple discrimination and exclusion as well.
Women in our society have different training needs than men since they are burdened with household chores and their off-springs responsibilities, moreover, at times contribute as a subsistence farmers or low-paid labourers. Despite India’s growing GDP at around 7% Female Labour Force Participation is going down i.e. 34% to 27%. Moreover, the female-male wage gap has also been stagnant on 50% (HDR, 2018). Hence, the Skill Development becomes a key to improve their household capacity, autonomy and employability. Income earning opportunities also enhances their sustainable livelihood and development in a long run.
Skill India mission was launched in July 2015 by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and since then it has transformed lives of over 35.36 lakh women through empowering them for better and secured livelihood through skill training. Since then lakhs of women underwent skill-based training and have improved their lives.
We began with our Skill based training program in 2018 under which we have launched two programs:
Centre for Social Research (CSR) conducted a Webinar on “Discussion on Skill Development and Employment opportunities Post Covid-19” on 18th June 2020. The conversation was on the dynamics of the Skill Development as a recovery mechanism. Our Experts panelists discussed the importance of Skill based training for the youth to secure and strengthen the future of the Indian Economy.
Due to the pandemic and the lockdown imposed, 27 million youth in the age group of 20-30 years in India lost jobs in April 2020 reported by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Therefore, Skill based training programs are required to ensure the continuation of learning and provide assistance to the Indian youth to acquire skill sets to re-enter the workforce. In 2018, CSR launched the Centre of Excellence for Skill Development with the aim of
providing access to skills and employment opportunities to the marginalized section of the society. Keeping in mind the current situation, we have moved the traditional classroom training to online training sessions to continue the youth’s capacity building and safe learning from home.
Ms. Silky Raheja, Head of Planning & World Bank TVET Programme at National Skill Development Cooperation said, “Covid-19 has made gender challenge worse. Reallocation of resources both in terms of skilling for a woman and health for a woman are coming up. Coupled with the Covid-19, the impact will be more on women than on men.”
Col. Anil Kumar Pokhriya, CEO MEPSC India said, “Covid-19 has changed the way we do things. Skill development also needs to adapt to the new norms. We need changes, new investments to do things the right way, and get better job opportunities.”
Mr. Sainath Sunil, Manager at Ernst & Young said, “The ecosystem of skilling needs to be changed because of the pandemic. The level of marginalization that women face increases in the times of a pandemic. #Covid19 has held a mirror against the realities of the countries.”
Nevertheless, it is essential to change our perspective that skilling is meant for a particular group of individuals because even today Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (LSRW) is the fundamental requirement at any level of recruitment. Therefore, skill development is not just for entry level jobs; employers are constantly pushing their employees to reskill and upskill themselves as skilling is a lifelong requirement!
“Employment opportunities are not infinite; what is infinite in enterprising abilities. Hence, you should not be a job seeker, you should be a job giver.” as suggested by our expert panellist Col. Pokhriyal.
- Lack of economic stability and job losses has made individuals desperate to come back to the workforce. Employers need to handle this empathetically because power of negotiation of the employee is negligible in these times.
- Skill training has to be brought into the mainstream and we need to bring change in the way society perceives different vocations as Skilling, reskilling and upskilling holds more importance than university degrees.
- Strategies to ensure last mile connectivity of skill training opportunities for rural India is the heart of the skilling system because as the medium and small business are facing the brunt of the economic slowdown, there will be a significant rise in the Gig economy due to the need of “multi-tasking” capabilities in individuals. At the same time, the role of the local entrepreneurs and Self Help Groups will be reinforced in assisting the marketing of local made products in the global market.
Is Online Training the way forward?
- The change to the online sphere would have taken time, which has been accelerated because of COVID, especially in skilling. The quick transformation of the skilling ecosystem to the online space has been highly appreciated.
- We have to depend on technology for practical courses, 3D modelling, which can be done with the help of Augmented Reality.
- Conducting online training will include shifting each step to the virtual world, i.e., mobilization, training, development of content, assessment process, interviews etc.
- Training individuals from different socio-economic backgrounds is challenging online but not an impossible paradigm shift for both the trainers and trainees.
- Structural inequalities in Skill had existed even before the Pandemic because the Indian Skill Ecosystem had certain gaps due to limited access to education, low access to formal training in the workforce and the limited opportunity to up-skill.
- Though there has been a certain level of adaptability in terms of the women taking up jobs in the unconventional sectors like security guard, plumbing, welding etc.
- But looking at the societal situation, it is important to give women economic and social support, to increase their labour force participation. For example, a win-win solution would be involvement in the Gig economy for women as it provides a flexible work model.
- In the long run skill development training requires more residential facilities for women’s safety and to cater to trainees from distant places. More focus on continuous counselling and mentorship programs to encourage women to join skilling initiatives needs to be taken into account.
It is of utmost importance that we need to test COVID-resistant skilling models and mainstream them. We require a clear understanding of the demand and supply gap of skills to identify skill shortage in critical sectors. We at CSR understand that Skill based training is a crucial aspect of job creation in India, hence, we are strategizing to expand our skill based training programs to roll out trainings for frontline health care courses in the coming future.