By Moin Qazi
As the country continues to face mounting challenges, social entrepreneurs are pairing their ingenuity and knowledge with their passion for bringing lasting solutions to society to create a sustainable and more equitable world.
Unemployment rates in India continue to rise, with youth unemployment registering the greatest increase. The unemployment rate among youth is almost 13% (4.9% overall), making unemployment one of the most challenging issues. Several civil society players are supplementing their efforts to address the problem, including an enterprising couple from Mumbai, Kishor Kher and his wife Mrinalini, founders of Yuva Parivartan. The couple is working with school and college dropouts, in both villages and urban slums, to train them in vocational skills, thus, enabling them to gain employment. However, the Khers’ impact is not limited to the youth they are training, in fact, in the process of doing so, they are nurturing grass-roots social entrepreneurship so that these barefoot professionals take control of their own lives and steer their path out of poverty and hopelessness.
Where it all started
Yuva Parivartan (YP), was started by the couple as they wanted to establish an exclusive organisation that focused on helping the youth attain the skills required to gain employment, thus making sure their financial futures were secure. The movement was formally launched in February 2003 by former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
However, the Khers’ have a long history of volunteerism in their blood. In 1928, Kishor Kher’s grandfather, BG Kher, the first Premier of the Bombay Province formed a voluntary group called the Kherwadi Social Welfare Association aimed to address the appalling living conditions of families in what is now Bandra East. Motivated by his social enterprising past and through the support of his wife Mrinalini, gave up his corporate job to focus on their passion of empowering the youth, leading to the birth of the Yuva Parivartan.
Yuva Parivartan has played a prime role in shaping the ecosystem for skill development and has been an active supporting associate of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). The organisation has a flexible and innovative model with a motivated learning environment that has been appreciated by the Planning Commission.
The philosophy and economics behind skill development at the organisation are driven by four critical factors. Firstly, they believe investment for skilling needs to be comprehensive, covering not only the training itself but also screening, matching, and mentoring. Secondly, programmes need to have measurable outcomes for the person seeking a job that will encourage other young people to get involved. Thirdly, there should be a close link between skill development and business profitability that will stimulate employers to hire skilled people. Lastly, but most importantly, society should shift the measure for the efficacy of skilling from cost to a broader metric which measures social return on this investment.
Techniques and advantages
In India, professional and vocational training for traditional skills like carpentry and weaving are usually acquired within the family which in turn restricts social mobility and access to modern technology. Yuva Parivartan aims to change this and aims to hone such skills through modern methods. The organisation has its own centres called LDCs – Livelihood Development Centres across various cities throughout the country where they have a classroom setup. They also organize various MLDCs –Mobile Livelihood Development Centres for rural areas where they temporarily conduct their camps for a month. The teaching model incorporates innovative teaching methods along with exercises, role plays and media tools, thereby, ensuring high rates of youth engagement.
Yuva Parivartan conducts 54 approved courses in 17 sectors. It also designs and develops industry relevant courses within the national skill qualification Framework (NSQF), best-suited for industry-relevant employment. To ensure quality, YP keeps abreast with best practices that include modern teaching aids and stringent assessment assurance checks that include centralized examination and certification. In addition to this, the Examination & Certification process functions on the standardized guidelines laid down by Quality Control of India (QCI), International Organisation for Standardisation and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
Most importantly, on-the-job training for the members of the organisation is offered in partnership with the industry. Some of its industry partners include Blue Star for air conditioning, Larsen & Toubro for masonry and Marriot, Taj, Oberoi and Hyatt for catering. Yuva Parivartan has slowly grown into one of India’s largest NGOs in skill development and livelihood generation and won countless awards for social entrepreneurship.
Currently, the biggest challenge that the organization faces is to get the students continue their jobs after placement, as students often leave jobs only months after joining due to low motivation levels. The organisation has been creatively designing strategies to make its programme more enriching and improve retention rates.
A search for real-world solutions is an unending quest for the Khers’ and their endeavour has touched the lives of hundreds of people. Yuva Parivartan has helped trained over 7 lakh people and aims to create livelihoods for millions more by covering about 4000 villages every year. Generations of benefactors in the past believe that social service either required only saintly virtues or financial means, however, modern social innovation and entrepreneurship requires the devotion of people like the Khers’ who have a combination of businesses acumen and social spirit.
Moin Qazi is the author of Village Diary of a Heretic Banker.
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