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Technical Skillsets Help You Hit The Ground Running

The resume reflects a Master’s degree, but the professional status still reads the same – educated but unemployed. This is story is common to a burgeoning number of students in the country, they are educated but lack employable skills. The high skew towards theoretical education with little or no exposure to practical skillsets has contributed to this scenario.

15 million youth enter the workforce each year but more than 75 per cent of this number is not employable due to deficient skillsets. India needs 700 million skilled workers by 2022 to meet the demands of a growing economy. This imbalance is due to lack of technical and soft skills and it points towards the urgent, growing need to make young Indians job ready, with a focus on young graduates to augment their employability.

India is a young nation with 62% of our population in the working age group and more than 54% of the total population below 25 years of age. We need to make drastic amends to solve the great Indian talent conundrum. To make the most of this demographic dividend that we possess, the first step we need to take is to celebrate skills and accept their need and importance with an open mind, just like China. For instance, the country currently faces a huge shortage of Sales Associates, Computer Operators, Beauticians, Hair Stylists, Medical Sales representatives, Mobile Repair Engineers, Helper-Plumbers, Helper-Electricians, Sewing Machine Operators, Helper-Masons/Bartenders, Painter – Decorators. Yet the scant regard we have for vocational training and skills development has led to decades of neglect of these crafts.

Once this due regard to skills is given, we need to support the technology growth with investment in skills and knowledge to prepare for the future. Revamping the education system can help bridge the talent gap, especially at the college level that forms the first steps into the professional world. Colleges need to collaborate with industries to chalk out a curriculum that entails integrates technological education and advancements.

Technical Education plays a vital role in the development of the country’s human resource by creating skilled manpower, enhancing industrial productivity and improving the quality of life. This helps increase the availability of better talent in the job market. Of among the 7 lakh engineering students that graduate annually, merely 7 per cent are fit for core engineering jobs.  What would also help, would be the providing of training in not just technical skills but also soft skills or communication skills, preparing them to transform into capable workers. Most of the institutions do not prepare the candidates for the new working world, making them struggle while facing the competencies of the professional realm. There is an urgent need to make the graduates job ready with basic skills of inter-personal communication, abilities to speak English, work as a team and possess basic computer knowledge.

Recognizing this need, efforts are being made by the government with positive steps such as National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) and National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). This will also lead to a paradigm shift in employment from being ‘qualification-based’ to ’skill-based’, making educational institutions focus on imparting skills that lead to employability, rather than merely doling out certificates and degrees. Integrating skills with regular main stream education at schools, will truly change the employment landscape at the most fundamental level in our country. A reinvention will need a vast paradigm shift to develop the tools of change needed to survive in the algorithm age. The demographic dividend if not given the treatment of skills may simply turn into a demographic disaster. The imbalance between the too few skilled workers and fewer jobs for the medium and low-skilled workforce is pointing towards the impending disaster.

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The Business of Social Transformation

Challenges galore in the Indian skilling landscape owing to its vast geographical expanse and varying socio-economic conditions with significant disparities. These growing challenges make it even more imperative to aim for a social transformation to further aid the growing skills landscape. Looking at Centum Learning and the challenging field of work we operate in, we deal with a particular socio-economic profile of people that makes our day-to-day activities no less than a herculean task. The skill-o-sphere, as I call it, is laced with very peculiar set of localized barriers that make the skilling gamut a tough terrain to climb. To dwell upon a few, the candidates who enroll for skilling courses often do not have necessary means to finance them. Further, the ability and the basic premise of which job profiles to take-up matching their skill sets is absent. Also, most of these candidates eventually land up qualifying for the minimum wage job, which does not encourage them to be mobile from their homes because they’re not earning enough to leave their home and the village.

There also exists a mismatch between where people live and where the job opportunities exist that can be explained from the fact that while there are people in every village who require training but there may not necessarily be a job opportunity present in their existing surroundings. As a result people are left with no other option but to migrate and move in search of a suitable job opportunity. Another mounting roadblock is in the sphere of pedagogy. Every individual has different learning behaviors with issues ranging from not knowing how to learn or having the ability and inclination to sit in the classroom and learn.

Apart from these challenges in the skilling world, there are other genuine natural constraints that people have to deal with every day. For instance, in Haryana girls are not encouraged to take up jobs or enroll themselves for training. Of those who are able to convince their families and take up the challenge, they end up traveling long distances to reach Centum Skill Development Centers. Also, with a strong agrarian focus of the region, during harvesting season many of them are needed in the family, forcing them to leave the training mid-way.

Seeing these real challenges that exist and that we deal with on a daily basis I believe that a market demand has to be created for ‘Skilling’. And a social transformation at the heart of India’s sociology is the only way forward and the pressing need of the hour. While we understand it’s a slow and long journey, it also requires tact and caution that we maintain while approaching this issue.

At the center of the Indian society studying to be a vocationally skilled person was always a lower end intuit and it still continues to be the same. The career dreams, embraced by both students and their families, are still restricted to becoming Doctors, Scientists, Engineers and joining the Army and pursuing and MBA. This basic premise needs to undergo a transformation.
While we blindly ape the western world, what we haven’t been able to adapt, respect and clinch is the basic principle upon which their entire society is built – Dignity of Labor. There is minimum socioeconomic disparity. For instance, if you go to a hotel in Sydney, the waiter will come and say, mate, can I get you a cup of coffee? He would talk to you more like a peer.

While there are challenges to skilling and changing the mindset in India, things are undergoing a rapid transformation. Candidates today come with a positive attitude and clear intentions of wanting to excel. With rural masses getting exposed to social media and getting a taste of the urban environment and lifestyle, dreams have begun to soar. The rural populace wants to go up the social ladder and have a better experience in their lifestyle and acquire better jobs to fulfill these dreams. So I think there’s a lot of positive vibe around skilling as a way to realize these dreams. During my trips to these rural centers, I always come out of sessions feeling very excited about the youngsters that we’re dealing with and the energy and the positivity they possess.

With PM Modi initiating and lending his complete faith and support to the Start-up India campaign, self-employment is a new buzz in town thing and that’s what excites me about this campaign. Startup India is not about the big and established brands like Flipkart and Snapdeal. But it’s about a plumber setting up his own plumbing shop or about a youth in a village who sets up a bicycle shop to repair bicycles. PM Modi is not trying to create 100 e-commerce entrepreneurs in his quest for encouraging people to take the startup journey. But he is asking and encouraging people to become an entrepreneur at all levels because in India just wage employment can’t solve the existing problems of unemployment. This is not about 100 people becoming millionaires. If there are 500 million people in India, the next decade won’t see a creation of 500 million jobs. So what you need to do is to get 300 million of these kind of people to become self-employed through skilling and that’s the business of Social Transformation.

The country realizes the sheer seriousness and importance of possessing a skilled workforce and needs a coordinated and cohesive effort to make this transformation a vivid reality.

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School Education – Changing Times, Changing Needs

The Indian education system was a gift of the British legacy, which is prevalent across all Commonwealth Nations. Back then in the 1940’s – 50’s, the job market did not present many options with Government Services or Defense Forces being the most prominent choices. There was dearth of private enterprises and more than half of the industries which operate right now didn’t even exist at that time back. The entire context of education was different in terms of pre‑partition and post-partition era as independence, seeking knowledge and self-development were the primary motivating factors during those years.

While the country attained independence more than six decades back, the mindset of educationists that lead education institutions still holds the same old school of thought. A student studies history, geography or a language like English, French that builds his cognitive ability, makes him think and makes him broad minded. But these subjects and knowledge does not give him any hard marketable job skills leading to the rise of very high-educated unemployed in the country. The generation passing out of schools and colleges, despite being educated and intelligent, is not fully aware of the current industrial trends. This lack of know-how makes them deprived of the right job skills, clueless about a number of industrial requirements and leading to the growing tribe of educated unemployed.

And that’s not the complete picture. While the quality of education leaves much to be desired, the 21st century children have different aspirations from the education system than the preceding generations. This present generation is constantly seeking, thinking, formulating, exploring and challenging their own views and opinions. A few years down the line, these children will be in positions of power in diverse sectors, dictating the direction of our country and economy. And to nurture their evolving minds, we need a system that puts the child at the center of education and facilitates the shift from rote learning to student understanding. This requires us to constantly re-examine education in terms of institutions, pedagogy and methodology. A paradigm shift is needed and it’s pertinent that we break from our conventions and rethink the kind of teachers, the curriculum and the kind of school leadership is needed. In other words, a sincere rethinking of the school space is the need of the hour. These changes are not possible without structural changes at a policy level that will both facilitate and reinforce them.

Mature governments around the world have recognized these underlying issues and taken corrective measures. The Indian Government too recognizes that India’s youth is her biggest asset, holding the potential to make her possibly the youngest nation in the world by 2030. But the burning question is whether enough steps are being taken to train and skill these youth to make India make the most of this demographic advantage? Historical data suggests that cognitive education by itself does not educate people to pickup jobs and work in today’s world. While the student is going through his cognitive education, it’s necessary that we provide them with a few options to help him pick up a trade or a skill without giving much thought to the future perusal of that skill.

There also exists a socioeconomic hierarchy when you come to vocational skills. Let’s say there is a course on hospitality, which focuses more on service. We don’t think we can sell it to the Delhi Public School or Modern School in Vasant Vihar because the kids who are coming there don’t hold the ambition to join a hotel and become a waiter. On the other hand if you go to a government school in the rural areas where the child comes from a poor family, for him that hospitality course will be more relevant. He may want to just go to a closest restaurant or hotel and pick up a job immediately to support his family’s needs right after completing his class 10th or 12th. This is why the vocational skill structure has to be layered, offering different skill sets for the different segments of the society.

A big leap in this direction was setting up The National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) – a competency-based framework that organizes all qualifications according to a series of levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude. The task is to build upon the NSQF in schools by setting a target of five million students with a vocational qualification every year. The overarching ambition of the Government is to get a salience between formal degree and vocational education to widen the skill gamut.

Efforts are already underway with the Central Board of Secondary Education already offering over 40 vocational courses in different sectors at the senior secondary level under NSQF framework. It makes sense to make CBSE the fulcrum to catch them young and train them early in the skill sets that are essential drivers for the nation’s economy. While providing vocational education in schools is the most important aspect of the entire gamut of skills development, what is even more important is the quality of education that is provided.

Introducing students to vocational training of high quality at an early age is the most effective way to ensure that vocation training earns its rightful place in society. Considering the growing importance to offer skill based training programmes right at the school level and with the introduction of National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF) from class IX, the demand for vocational education programmes is going to soar across all levels. This training will enable students to acquire desired competency levels with upgraded skills, which will help them in entering the job market proficiently. These small measures taken at the right time will make India become the skill leaders and take the maximum advantage of its demographic dividend.

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Harnessing Skills

The Article First Appeared In Khaleej Times on January 26, 2016

The future of higher education system in India lies in industry-academia-government linkage

In recent years there has been a new trend in India’s higher education system. Instead of setting up centers of excellence or merely sponsoring research, Indian corporate are getting into the educational sector establishing universities. Perhaps, they see this as the only way of creating a skilled workforce.

The obsession of many Indians for textbook education and white collar jobs has created a conundrum of gigantic proportions. Where there will be 13 million youth entering the workforce every year, there are not enough jobs to go around. Yet, look at any of the major sectors – construction, retail, agriculture, transport and logistics – there is a dearth of skilled labour.

Take the south Indian state of Kerala for instance. A labourer will earn Rs350 a day (or Rs10,000 a month), which is six times the national average of Rs50-60 a day. The state is facing a huge shortage of skilled labour since most of its working population prefer migrating outside the state to greener pastures especially in the Gulf. According to government data, half of the 6.5 million people working in the Gulf comprise Malayalis and a large chunk of them are engaged in blue collared jobs.

If India does not build a corpus of skilled labour, the ‘Make in India‘ vision of the government is sure to come to naught. For instance, the country currently faces a huge shortage of painters, masons, electricians and welders among other construction trade workers.

Yet the scant regard most Indians have for vocational training and skills development has led to decades of neglect for these crafts. Worsening the situation, students who finish tertiary education and choose to learn any one of these trades have to depend on the ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes), which are poorly managed and outdated.

Skills are not celebrated in India unlike China, where students are steered into vocational training right from their secondary education levels. India’s education system has a big task at hand to bring transition in the role from ‘student’ to ‘worker’ and prepare candidates for the new working world.

Class 12 is too late for a student to pick up employability skills. Instead, from class 7-8 onwards there needs to be a move away from student-oriented to teacher-oriented learning. Besides, the curriculum should be aligned to current industry requirements.

Fortunately, the Indian government has made provisions for upgrading skills under multiple disciplines and even created a separate ministry to achieve its dream of a Skilled India. Positive steps such as the National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) and the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) are in the right direction, which will also lead to a paradigm shift in employment from being ‘qualification-based’ to ‘skill-based.’ This change is sure to result in educational institutions focusing on imparting skills that lead to employability, rather than doling out certificates and degrees.

The NVEQF seeks to bring parity with formal education by defining various levels (eg, making Level 1 equivalent to Class 9 and so on, continuing till Level 10). Other initiatives such as vertical mobility will allow a student pursuing vocational education to have the flexibility to move into mainstream education and vice versa. The government has also set up a Sector Skills Council in order to bring in industry linkages, which in turn is setting up National Occupational Standards as per industry recommendations.

A nationwide network of affordable community colleges could be set up with courses and diplomas closely tailored to the skills related to the local labour market. Higher education available in the local market will also stop unsustainable migration to cities. Besides, skills development and vocational training will bring about inclusive development and growth for rural areas, where poor children are compelled to drop out of the education system due to several socio-economic constraints. Incorporating vocational training into post-elementary education and using an ICT-based long-term plan that involves the industry will go a long way in addressing skills shortage.

Perhaps, a mandate for major industry bodies in India to work closely with NSDC and NVEQF, along with universities to encourage innovation, help improve skill levels and address employability challenges that may solve the issue of skilled workforce in India. Vocational courses could also be converted into full-fledged ITI/diploma courses.

If the Indian government can make it possible for the industry to embrace Corporate Social Responsibility through an amendment to its Companies Act, why can’t the same be done for something equally, if not more important, skills development and vocational training?

Only through industry-academia-government linkage and close partnership will skills development and vocational training programs become an integral part of the Indian education system. If not, India will lose out on its demographic dividend of having a huge youth population, and one ready to enter the job market soon.

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Skilling India is akin to evangelizing: Sanjeev Duggal, Centum Learning

The Interaction first Published on The Financial Express on February 8, 2016 12:20 am 

Sanjeev Duggal, the MD & CEO of Centum Learning, believes that ‘Start-up India’ has to be synergized with ‘Skill India’. “The way things are playing out, the nation’s growth agenda is directly getting aligned to the skills-level of its manpower,” Duggal says. Centum Learning, which is NSDC’s partner, is also making efforts to reach out to the remotest parts of the country. For that, Duggal says, we need to reach ‘media-dark’ states in the country, where TV and print reach only 20% of the population. In an interview with Vikram Chaudhary of The Financial Express, he adds that we also have to change the ‘poor country cousin’ image of a skills-based career.

Excerpts:

What are your views on the ‘Start-up India, Stand up India’ campaign?
Start-up India is not about only Flipkart, Myntra or any other e-commerce/IT start-up. It’s about a plumber setting up a plumbing business; a carpenter opening a carpentry shop. It’s about encouraging entrepreneurship. The government has realised it is not possible to skill and provide employment to everybody and, at times, not practical. Hence, it is a good idea to skill people to become entrepreneurs on their own terms and conditions.
The other day I was speaking to a friend who said he was impressed by a young man who had set up a grocery portal. We are witnessing this trend all over the country. Under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), we are helping women get trained in the beauty sector, and making them realise their dreams of being an entrepreneur instead of pursuing jobs in established companies.

What synergies do Start-up India and Skill India share?
There cannot be a more opportune time to consider how closely Start-up India can be synergised with Skill India. The way things are playing out, the nation’s growth agenda is directly getting aligned to the skills-level of its manpower. We are playing a key role in evangelising skilling and making youth job-ready so they, in turn, can make India a manufacturing hub, thus helping fulfil the Make-in-India vision. In fact, Centum Learning is mustering all resources to become a prime catalyst in the delivery and scaling up of the government’s self-employment mission. There are thousands of opportunities to start a thriving business, but there is not enough skilled manpower that can engage in such entrepreneurship.
What all have Centum Learning and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) achieved as a team?
We have been NSDC’s number 1 partner for two consecutive years, having skilled more than 1.2 million people.

Who all form your training and development specialists?
We have created Centum Skill Instructors’ Guild (CSIG), a forum that aims to reward skill instructors in recognition of the crucial role they play in building a skilled and employable India. Through this initiative, we are ensuring that the quality of trainers that train the future of our country are constantly motivated, are looking to enhance their personal skill competencies and realize their direct impact on skillsets of trainees. This platform will serve as a means for us to engage with the skills instructors’ community in the country.

How to reach out to the remotest parts of the country?
Skilling India is akin to evangelizing. What is required is a disruption in the existing ecosystem to reach ‘media-dark’ areas in the country, where TV and print reach only 20% of the population. To counter this problem, Centum Learning recently launched a massive outreach program through mobile phones to address the ‘awareness gap’. Though the initial scope of the pilot project was restricted to Bihar, it eventually was rolled out to cover nearly 400 million subscribers nationwide.
Under the initiative, telecom providers sent text and voice-based messages to the target audience who were required to give a missed call to a toll-free number. Interested candidates would then be profiled on the basis of their age and location and finally mapped to their nearest enrolment centers. This exercise was quite successful. In less than a week of launch, as many as 3,87,408 candidates were profiled and over 40,000 candidates across 38 districts in Bihar were enrolled under various skilling programs. We take help from Gram Panchayats and other local governing bodies to spread awareness about these mobilization drives.

Where do you train the untrained?
Infrastructure is neither a challenge, nor a constraint. We’ve tied up with CBSE and AICTE to offer vocational training in schools and colleges. We use existing infrastructure like AICTE-approved colleges and private ITIs, rented commercial space, etc, which comply with government regulations, instead of setting up new centres. Most of these centres are already equipped with computers and laboratories to enable smoother implementation of project deliverables. In case of certain hostel-based training centres, Centum provides transportation facilities from the hostel to the training centre. Given the government’s emphasis on skilling, we are even looking at utilising public spaces like railway stations in the What steps are needed to change the perception that skills training is only for those who are not good in academics?

Unlike the West, where a PhD can pursue the vocation of a cab driver and is considered a respected member of society, in India, a father’s heart will skip a beat if his daughter announces her interest to marry anybody less than an engineer or a doctor.
But things are slowly changing and there are discussions in the corridors of power about skilling, bridging the demographic divide, providing employability skills, encouraging rural participation to make the skill movement mainstream. Well-crafted and strategic advertising campaigns are being floated to change the ‘poor country cousin’ image of a skills-based career.
A social ecosystem that respects those skilled in vocational education, a support system that addresses some of the basic necessities of life, a network to share and live with, a decent working atmosphere … all these will go a long way in changing the mindset of people towards skilling.

Have you been able to gainfully transform the lives of women in smaller towns?
We provide training to vulnerable youth in the 18-35 age group, mainly from rural areas, scheduled castes and tribes, backward communities and women. Our ambition is to reach a larger pool of trainees to offer exhaustive skilling opportunities as we believe only scale can bring inclusivity. Our target is to reach more women candidates and, if necessary, provide exclusive female-only hostel facilities, employ female instructors and wardens to ensure safety and comfort of female candidates. Further impetus to attract female trainees is done by counselling parents and providing references from past women trainees, who belong to the same location as potential candidates and who are employed, thus contributing to their family income.

Does your skilling model take care of placements?
The approach towards skill building consists of five steps: Employment Generation, Mobilisation, Skill Training, Certification & Assessment, and Placement. Basically, we cover end-to-end of the skilling cycle. As of date, we have generated 3,81,000 letters of intent from various organisations nationwide in various sectors and trades. Our focus is on conducting placement-linked training programs. As soon as the batch formation process takes place, the placement team starts mapping the profiles of trainees for placements. Each state-level centre has a placement head who coordinates with the placement team to organize on-the-job training and placement for trainees. A prospective employer usually visits the centres to conduct interviews and hire trainees. A majority of our trainees are absorbed within the same organization where they undertook on-the-job training.

What was the need to expand your footprint across countries?
We are the first skilling MNC in India. We forayed into Africa anticipating the similarity in culture, topography and linguistic diversity of Africa with India. The key to unleashing the continent’s potential has always been its talented youth. One critical difference is the larger scale in Africa. It is an opportunity and also a challenge. In the normal course of events, Centum Learning would have probably never gone to Africa. We were happy growing in India and had no plans to go to this emerging market. Similarly, we had not chalked out a ready plan to venture into the global market as we had our hands full in India. But the fact that the skills gap is a global phenomenon has opened the world for us. So now, besides Africa, we have offices in Nepal where we are conducting training programs. We have now trained over 1.2 million youth in India and abroad.

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Mobilization in Digital India

Mobilization_campaignBihar is historically one of India’s poorest regions and continues to remain so. The acute poverty in the state can be traced back to the economic decline of both its agricultural and industrial sectors. Both structural and institutional factors have played a powerful deterrent to the agrarian transformation. Even technological factors such as poor infrastructure development of resources including power and irrigation, non-availability of modern inputs, low quantum and high cost of credit and poor extension services have also contributed to the dismal performance of Bihar’s agricultural sector in the post-independence period. Not surprisingly, there is limited occupational opportunity outside the agriculture sector in Bihar.

On the other hand, Bihar enjoys a greater demographic dividend compared with other Indian states largely due to a higher percentage of youth population. While the state incidentally holds the record for the highest number of IAS enrollments on an average, the youth still require immediate attention in order to fulfill of their aspirations for good quality life, better paid jobs and self-employment opportunities.

With a large pool of young workforce, India has an opportunity to become a skill provider for the world, particularly the ageing developed world. To harness this, Prime Minister’s vision of building a skilled & employable India is one such clarion call to the youth of the country to get skilled, become employable and take charge of their own lives and add to nation’s productivity. Reaching out to the youth and motivating them to get skilled in a sector of their choice is the only way to ensure that our demographic dividend does not turn into a demographic disaster.

The Pradhan Mantri Kushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY) aims to leverage the potential of India’s demographic dividend by providing skill-training and making every skilled youth employable. Training will be provided based on industry aligned National Occupational Standards through training providers and Sector Skill Councils.

Under PMKVY, candidates will be eligible for a monetary reward, upon successful completion of their training and also clearing the assessment by an independent assessment agency appointed by Sector Skill Council. Moreover the candidates will also receive a government recognized certificate which helps them become gainfully employed As the largest partner of NSDC, Centum Learning is playing a pivotal role in enabling and mobilizing a large number of Indian youth to take up outcome-based skill training, gain employable skills and earn their livelihood.

Recognizing this, we launched ‘Skills Melas’ across Bihar to sensitize and mobilize youth to enroll in various courses offered under PMKVY scheme at Centum Skill centres. At these Melas, youngsters were provided with details of various courses, available opportunities and counselled on how to become employable and earn livelihood. But again we faced a similar problem which we had dealt in past, the challenge of reaching out to millions of youth in a media dark state. While Skilling in India is a kin to evangelizing it needs disruption in the existing ecosystem to reach ‘media dark’ states in the country, where TV and print reach only 20 per cent of the population. The solution was to come out with a disruption in the way we have done mobilization.

To counter this problem, Centum launched India’s largest PPP initiative in the skilling sector when it joined hands with Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to launch a massive outreach programme through mobiles to address this ‘awareness gap’. Centum’s brainchild for mass mobilization elicited such enthusiastic response from Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal who in turn helped muster active and spontaneous support from all COAI members. Initially, the pilot launch of the massive Outreach Programme to mobilize under-privileged youth for skills training

A pilot would be rolled out in Bihar, where text and voice based awareness messages shall be sent out to a subscriber base of 1.5 crore youth. Following the pilot, the programme will be implemented nationally by core COAI members to cover nearly 400 million subscribers after the formal launch of the PMKVY scheme in July.

The mass outreach programme launched on June 18, 2015 by Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy Minister of State, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship & Parliamentary Affairs and Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Communications.

From Left to Right, Sanjeev Duggal, CEO & Director, Centum Learning Limited; Shri Dilip Chenoy, MD & CEO, NSDC; Shri Sunil Arora, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship ; Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship & Parliamentary Affairs Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad- Union Minister for Communications & Information Technology; Shri Rakesh Garg, DoT Secretary and Chairman –Telecom Commission; Shri Himanshu Kapania, MD, Idea Cellular and Chairperson, COAI; Shri Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, COAI

The approach towards skill building consists of five steps being; Employment Generation, Mobilization, Skill Training, Certification & Assessment, Placement. Centum Learning aggressively took up the cause of mobilizing under-privileged youth in skills training following the launch of a unique mobile mass-outreach programme.

The pilot for the outreach campaign was executed in Bihar, with a 2.24 million Bharti Airtel subscriber base who were targeted as part of this campaign. Interested candidates were mapped to one of the 136 counselling centres set up by Centum Learning in 38 districts of Bihar.

To begin with, telecom operators sent out SMSs & Outbound Dialing (OBDs) to the targeted subscriber base, promoting a specific number for giving missed calls. Interested candidates ca then give a missed call on the number. Once a missed call is received, an SMS was sent out in regional languages, informing candidates that he or she would be receiving a call shortly. An IVR asked for Location, Employment Status, Age and Gender was pushed to the candidate to enable profiling. Incomplete profiles would be re-targeted after 24 hours.

The data captured and reports shared in a pre-defined format for further targeting by training partners of NSDC, so that each interested candidate can be mapped to a specific training centre. Following this, an invitation message with date, time and address of the nearest centre was shared with candidates, followed by a reminder call and text message, asking them to enroll in the programme. All through, those candidates who have not been enrolled will be re-targeted through the SMS and IVR campaigns.

Finally, interested candidates were mapped to their nearest enrolment centres. Of these, three centers were built in Aarah, Ekma and Chappra to accommodate large scale skilling under various trades. Post the mass outreach, the youth of Bihar were asked to reach the nearest multi skill center. These Multi-Skill Centres offered courses for Sales Associates, Computer Operators, Beauticians, Hair Stylists, Medical Sales representatives, Mobile Repair Engineers, Helper-Plumber, Helper-Electricians, Sewing Machine Operators, Helper-Mason/Barbender, Painter-Decorator.

I am happy to share that in less than a week of launch, 3,87,408 candidates were profiled and over 40,000 candidates  across 38 districts in Bihar were enrolled under various skilling programmes. Here I would like to reiterate that our overall mission is to build and sustain a movement around India’s social transformation through skilling and such efforts clearly showcase our steps towards achieving this goal.

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