There are 1.2 billion people in the world below the poverty line and this number might increase after the pandemic crisis. At present, nearly one-third of such a population with bare subsistence means belongs to India. There is a stringent requirement for the socio-economic development of this large portion of humanity to improve their quality of life. The most pragmatic way to achieve this goal is through skill development. In highly populated countries like India, the up-skilling of the youth cannot be easily accomplished through the conventional education framework. Thus, there is also a need to redefine skill development in terms of education and employment.
In the Indian context, the data from the National Sample Survey shows that out of 470 million people of working age in India, only 10% receive formal training or access to skilled employment opportunities. There seems to be a huge gap between the demand and supply when it comes to skilled workforce and employment opportunities. This situation may prove to be detrimental to the national economy in the long run.
Skill is defined as the ability to do something well, and skill development has become a buzzword for the 21st century. If India has to come up as the Human Resource Capital of the world, it needs to appropriately skill its youth bulge and convert this advantage to a dividend. India’s transformation to a diversified and internationally-competitive economy calls for a quick reorganization of the skill development ecosystem. Skill development may act as a catalyst for ushering social equality, a step towards providing opportunities to all, and a move towards eradication of poverty. It may lead to a better quality of life for a large chunk of the population and the well being of the industry.
Mahatma Gandhi was one of the earliest proponents of technical education in free India, who also advocated linking curriculum with industrial needs. Of course, the needs may be different today, but the essence of making education work-integrated is still relevant. In Gandhiji’s words, “Taken as a whole, a vocation or vocations are the best mediums for the all-round development of a boy or a girl. Therefore, the syllabus should be woven around vocational training and the primary education thus conceived as a whole, is bound to be self-supporting (Wardha scheme of education)”. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has also emphasized upon the need to impart skills and ability to the youthful manpower in order to tackle global challenges. He has cautioned that unless we accomplish this task, the huge manpower availability would in itself become a challenge in the years to come.
In the present circumstances, it has been observed that there is the youth who are unemployed, there is a youth whose employment history had been short-lived and there are employers who are either not getting suitable employees or whose experience with past employees had been miserable.
A lot of emphases are being given these days by several institutions and Government agencies on skill development and related placements of the unemployed youth. However, very few of them are covering the entire spectrum of this process that involves counseling support, innovative and interactive curriculum, hands-on industry exposure in addition to the post-placement journey.
The initial stage of aligning the aspirations of the trainees, who largely belong to the underprivileged sections of the society, with the needs of the industry, is of utmost importance. It requires the most delicate handling and counseling of the trainees and their parents but is hardly been practiced. Non-availability of updated training curriculums, classroom training modules with student inquiry, interactive dialogues, and cognitive empathy are other features for the distraction of the trainees. The need for a mentorship at entry-level jobs, post-placement counseling support, and access to information regarding future opportunities is badly felt but is out of sight.
All these situations required a deep understanding and delicate handling of both sides. SWAN (Skilled Workforce Advancing Nation) saw a niche in bridging the aspirations of the youth as per the requirements of the industry. The underlying thought behind the entire venture being to resolve the pain points of the youth from the targeted section of the society and train them for a harmonious and fruitful relationship with the employers.
SWAN aims at enhancing the skill sets of the youth (age group 18-30 years) from the underprivileged sections of the society. Its main focus is towards improving the quality of youthful workforce for the retail sector through innovative training programs and specialized counseling sessions conducted by experienced instructors. Specially designed training programs practiced over here integrates all disciplines into the classroom in such a way that learning is driven through student inquiry, interactive dialogues, industry exposure, and cognitive empathy. These training sessions are created with a view to enhance the overall awareness of the groups towards work along with the improvement in the skill-sets so as to align the aspirations of the students with the objectives of the training session.
SWAN also provides continuous mentor-mentee support to the youth gaining employment. Keeping in view the overall well being of the target groups in life, the post-placement assistance seeks to connect them to forthcoming opportunities so that they can do well in professional life. It endeavors that such an effort would enable the participants to realize their full potential in becoming better leaders.
However, the main inspiration comes from seeing the smiles on the faces of scores of youth and in developing a congenial atmosphere in the workplace with satisfied employers. At SWAN, we strive to work with dedication and total commitment in our endeavor to achieve the goals. We firmly believe that possessing a large, educated, skilled, and youthful population would prove to be a valuable asset for the Nation’s developmental goals in the future. We have taken this up as a challenge of the skill up-gradation of the youth in the NCR of Delhi following the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-2030 on technical, vocational education training (TVET), decent work opportunities for promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and providing help to young adults,as guiding beacons. It is envisaged to create a stable workforce through skill development leading to a higher employee satisfaction rate as the net outcome.
This venture seeks to impart knowledge as signified by the first name SWAN (sacred bird Hans in Hindi; scientific name Cygnus), which is linked to the reigning deity of education, Goddess Saraswati. A profound liking for this majestic avian species for its effortless swimming, flight, intelligence, and the capability to attain soaring heights are the other attributes that provide the motivation for attaining higher goals judiciously.