July 15th, 2023 : Every year, July 15 is considered as ‘World Youth Skills Day’. The theme for this year is ‘Skilling teachers, trainers and youth for a transformative future.’ As per a report from the Education Commission and UNICEF, published to coincide with World Youth Skills Day, it is estimated that only around 25 per cent of the world’s youth are on track to learn the skills they need to get a job – either through education, employment or training.
Upskilling local communities and individuals are aligned with our company’s purpose of supporting and providing sustainable livelihoods through our CSR initiatives.
‘Project Swavlamban’, a CSR initiative at our integrated unit Maihar Cement Works plant in Madhya Pradesh, aims at helping local youth to be self-reliant. As part of the project, a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) has been set up. It was set up in 2021, near the unit and offered professional training in various areas.
Keeping up with the local market requirements, the unit CSR team identified specific self-employment opportunities for upskilling the local youth. It has helped around 110 local youth from low-income families to upskill in the areas of tailoring, beauty services, electrical and electronic, and diesel engine and tractor repairing.
Securing a steady livelihood
Thirty-eight-year-old Pinkey Sen’s husband was the sole earning member. But a salary of Rs.7,000 a month was proving to be insufficient in taking care of household needs and raising two children studying in 5th and 8th standards. Even though Pinkey was keen to contribute to household expenses, a school passing certificate and absence of technical skills was a barrier to get employment.
Pinkey got to know about the employment opportunities from the training provide at VTC and enrolled herself into the stitching course. Once she completed the course, she was offered the role of Assistant Trainer in stitching at VTC. This made her financially independent and helped her become a steady source of income for her family. She also earns additional income by stitching orders she receives from people in the village.
Sharing her experience, Pinkey expressed that “the training received at Maihar Cement Works’ VTC provided moral support and gave a new direction to my life that has boosted my confidence and self-esteem.”
Empowered with technical training
The access to vocational training and employment opportunities at VTC has helped to empower the local youth to become self-employed and secure a sustainable livelihood. This has not only help uplift their families but also created a positive cascading impact in their villages. Since 2021, 14 new businesses such as parlours, clothing boutiques, workshops etc have been established by the local youths trained at VTC.
Among the multiple trainees of VTC was 23-year-old Pawan Singh Markam, from Amgar village at Bhadanpur South, situated in the proximity of the unit’s mines. Pawan could not secure a job after completing his higher secondary school studies as he had no technical background. At VTC, he underwent intensive training in electrical and electronic repair for over six months.
He became an electrician, skilled in repairing of televisions, fans, coolers, and other electrical appliances for an expanding clientele in his own village. Pawan wants to utilise his skills and income further by setting up his own repair shop and buy a motor bike to serve the villagers of Amgar at their doorsteps.
Pawan expresses gratitude for the training and says, "This training changed my life. I was given the opportunity to learn a technical skill and find out work right within my own village."
Moving towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’
Several youth in rural areas aspire to establish their own businesses as a means of livelihood. However, lack of knowledge and guidance for setting up and operating a business causes hindrance to their plans.
Through its focus on youth skilling and self-employment, Project Swavlamban contributes to the ‘Atmanibhar Bharat’ vision of the Government of India towards building a self-reliant nation. Pawan’s story is a testament to that contribution of our project.
While helping them to be economically independent and support their families, the initiative fostered goodwill between our unit and the community. Through the creation of self-employment opportunities, VTC has helped prevent migration of local youth like Pawan for employment and allow them to serve their own community.
Our Company undertakes our social initiatives under the aegis of The Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development with Mrs. Rajashree Birla as its Chairperson and anchored by Dr Pragnya Ram as the Group Head for CSR. The key focus areas are education, healthcare, sustainable livelihoods, community infrastructure and social causes. Our Company reaches out to more than 1.6 million beneficiaries in over 500 villages in 16 states across India.
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