Building Skills, Eradicating Poverty: Participating in India's Growth Story

Guddi Basod from Nayi Abadi, Banswara District in Rajasthan. belongs to a community of traditional bamboo crafts persons
Guddi Basod from Nayi Abadi, Banswara District in Rajasthan. belongs to a community of traditional bamboo crafts persons

As India continues to record high growth rates, a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Rajasthan is helping equip the poorest and most marginalized with the skills necessary to participate in the country’s growth story.

Set up in 2004 the Rajasthan Mission on Livelihoods promotes livelihoods for the most vulnerable and provides skills training to youth, aimed at linking them with market needs. In doing so it represents a comprehensive strategy to help increase the employability of the country’s youth and eradicate poverty.

Highlights

  • Skills training programmes organised by the Government of Rajasthan’s Rajasthan Mission on Skills Livelihoods (RMoL) with support from UNDP
  • Initiatives to understand market needs and skill gaps in different geographical areas and occupations have been taken
  • 150 newly developed market-driven training modules are being used by more than 300 training institutions
  • A Construction Academy that provides courses in plumbing and sanitation, masonry and electrical house wiring and Rajasthan Institute of Security Education have been set up
  • Policy-level work on employment and employability issues related to domestic workers, youth, migrants and persons with disability has been facilitated
  • 32 technical agencies bring professional and technical expertise to 24 grassroots organisations reaching out to nearly 110,000 disadvantaged households

Economically and socially discriminated against for centuries, most members of the Basod community in Nayi Aabadi in Banswara district of the desert Indian state of Rajasthan earn a living through sweeping and cleaning toilets. Most live on less than a dollar a day and their vulnerable livelihoods are often supplemented by meager earnings from simple bamboo products they sell at local markets.

Gopilal Basod, a member of this community, never thought he would he would be able to anything other than this. But his fate changed after he acquired the skill to make and sell high-value products made from bamboo. Says Gopilal: “Earlier I used to make bamboo products for daily use. With training I now make better products such as wall hangings and books shelves to sell to urban clients. Now a single table I make sells for Rs.400.”

Since 2009, community members have been participating in skills training programme organised by the Government of Rajasthan’s Rajasthan Mission on Skills Livelihoods (RMoL), with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Like Gopilal, thousands across Rajasthan are being provided opportunities for gainful employment.

Set up in 2004, the RMoL represents a comprehensive state-wide strategy for engaging with youth in rural and urban areas in emerging sectors. The mission follows the “3S” approach that focuses on three elements -- spatial, sector and segment -- to promote livelihoods in specific geographic areas; focus on vulnerable segments of the population such as landless, women and disabled; and identify employment opportunities for these groups in specific sectors. Moving away from a focus purely on skill-building, RMoL has undertaken initiatives to understand market needs, skill gaps in different geographical areas and occupations, and develop public private partnership models that could improve outreach in remote areas and to disadvantaged groups.

Rajasthan’s Chief Secretary V. Srinivasan says: “The demand for skilled labour in the state is expected to double to reach 8.3 million by 2015. Through innovations in skills and by focusing on enhancing employability of socially and economically disadvantaged communities, previously wage and self-employed youth are beginning to participate in the state’s growth story.”

As India moves to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and reduce significantly, the poverty ratio, increasing the employability of the country’s 350 million youth is critical. RMoL represents an example of efforts underway by UNDP to support state governments and partners in developing holistic approaches and models to strengthen existing livelihoods and to identify employment potential for the poor in emerging sectors.

A rural employment exchange first piloted in Dausa district in 2008 has been up-scaled by government across all districts. One-hundred-and-fifty newly developed market- driven training modules are being used by more than 300 training institutions. UNDP has also facilitated the setting up of the Construction Academy that provides courses in plumbing and sanitation, masonry and electrical house wiring, and Rajasthan Institute of Security Education, a certified training in security education.

RMoL has also facilitated policy-level work on employment and employability issues related to domestic workers, youth, migrants and persons with disability. Twenty-five year old Kailash Meghwal is one such beneficiary. Partially blind Kailash was not considered an employable member of his six member household which survived on income earned from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. But this changed when he joined a special computer programme to build skills and enhance employability of the visually challenged students at his school. He says, “I can communicate with more people and am not confined to Braille. I can send my job applications to the abled and the disabled -- through the internet.”

Only two percent of India’s workforce has had skills training. At current capacity only three million of the 12.8 million entrants into the labour force annually can be trained. A comprehensive strategy to enhance the employability of India’s workforce has extended to other states. Through the Jharkhand Skills Livelihoods Mission set up in 2009, a consultation has been organised bringing leading skill development institutions and experts to help chart a strategy for the state.

Thirty-two technical agencies in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa bring professional and technical expertise to 24 grassroots organisations reaching out to nearly 110,000 disadvantaged households. Livelihood plans developed for specific vulnerable groups in Rajasthan and Jharkhand such as the Kanjar community, schedule tribes and migrants have also been developed.

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