Tackling youth unemployment in India
How City & Guilds is helping to transform the lives of thousands of young people in India
19 August 2014
Since 2009 City & Guilds has been working closely with Manipal Education to provide high-quality training for young people in India. Earlier this year, the joint venture took a decisive step forward when an agreement was signed with the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) committing Manipal City & Guilds (MCG) to train 63,000 unskilled people in hospitality, construction and retail over the next 10 years.
The agreement made MCG the first British company to be recognised by the NSDC, which is India’s leading facilitator of vocational training programmes. As part of the agreement, MCG must adhere to the NSDC’s stringent standards and place at least 70% of those individuals in employment at the end of their training.
It’s a significant guarantee, but one that Manipal CEO John Yates is confident they can fulfil. ‘From day one, we’ll work with employers to customise our qualifications to the needs of the industry,’ he explains. ‘Students will receive provisional job offers before training starts, and we’ll liaise with relevant placement partners throughout the course to make sure their requirements are being met.’
Changing people’s lives
The provision of skills development is crucial in a country where over a third of 15 to 19-year-olds fail to progress beyond the level of a lower-secondary school education, according to a 2012 UNESCO report.
Through this partnership, learners will qualify up to a level 2 standard and be given the opportunity to take a work experience placement. Additionally, MCG has indicated that it would expect to train a further 77,000 people in a range of other sectors over the same 10-year period. Combined, that would bring the company’s target of training 140,000 people in total.
Yates is aware of how much work needs to be done. . ‘Our target is a relatively small percentage of the NSDC’s overall aim to train 150 million unskilled individuals by 2020,’ he says. ‘But for MCG, this is the first step towards contributing to a very significant goal. ‘If realised, the NSDC’s work will have a fundamental impact on the economy and the lives of the young people who train on our courses.’
At present, 93% of workers in India are employed without a formal contract, meaning that they can be forced to work for unrealistically long hours and scandalously low wages – or face losing their jobs. In Yates’s opinion, to improve young people’s prospects, a formal skills development framework needs to be established alongside standardised starting salaries at a national minimum.
The path to success
‘For too long, expensive university courses have been considered the only route to a good job,’ Yates explains. ‘But now, young people and employers are starting to recognise the value of vocational training.’
Rahul Shah, a 22-year-old from Andheri in Mumbai, is just one example of someone who has benefited from pursuing vocational training. After finishing his secondary higher education, Rahul studied towards a certificate in retail skills. The course introduced him to a range of vital management theories and sales techniques that he was able to put to the test on a number of work experience placements.
Since completing his course in June, Rahul has become employed as a Junior Sales Associate at Shoppers Stop, one of India’s largest retail department stores. ‘It’s given me a massive confidence boost,’ he explains. ‘More importantly, it’s provided me with an opportunity to earn a living for myself and my family.’