Cracking the employability paradox of Rural India: Yuva Parivartan
Yuva Parivartan was one of the two programmes selected for in-depth acceleration & incubation, through the Alchemize process, as a part of the Guiding Social Innovations Programme 2011, designed and implemented by Innovation Alchemy in collaboration with the Marico Innovation Foundation.
Yuva Parivartan provides employability training to young people who have either dropped out of formal education (or) are at risk of having no real livelihood options. It is estimated that by 2016 close to 500 million people in India would have dropped out of school, having gone through less than 5 years of schooling ( read more) creating a huge drag for the economy and a major challenge for industry in the country. This high rate of school drop outs and a large gap in terms of real employability options is a critical social challenge that needs urgent focus.
The YP Innovation challenge
Although the team has successfully managed to create a low cost training model and setup the required resources to do so, the model is constrained by the number of youth who came to its physical centers. Increasingly, the core operations team at YP was finding that a majority of their target group were not interested in building capacity for themselves – or in seeking any real employability options. With limited real livelihood sources at hand, lack of exposure to the wider world, limited access to go beyond their rural catchments – the youth we met were mostly convinced that no real option exists. And if it does exist its too expensive and unaffordable. Interestingly though, most of them had high expectations of how much they wanted to earn, which, it figures, is in itself a barrier for them to take up entry level jobs (offered by YP courses). In the search for instant gratification the school drop-out teenagers, in their minds, continued to discount existing opportunities.
For the YP team it was not feasible to set up infrastructure in remote areas where the population is scattered, but the need for such an intervention was most felt in these areas. Similarly it did not make sense for the youth to travel about 40 kilometers a day for their training to the centers. In a sense it was a catch 22 situation that limited the team in reaching out to the rural, tribal youth and impacting their lives.
Innovation, prototype design and the thinking behind it
To address the challenges it became clear that the model had to evolve into one that could provide:
• A low cost, scalable solution that solves the last mile gap
• Has the potential to reach the most rural and remote villages
• In an engagement of a few days, be able to start a transformation at a mindset level.
• Demonstrate value by exposing them to sample livelihood opportunities.
Once it became clear for the YP team that cracking a model with the above design parameters would result in the removal of maximum number of barriers of scale, the Mobile Camps Model was redesigned – fresh insights, ideation, brainstorming and prototype development went into the design stage.
The Mobile Camp
A mobile camp offers basic training free of cost over a period of 7 to 10 days depending on the courses and its complexity. The basic infrastructure and equipment required for the teaching gets transported to the identified village and is housed at a public venue like the school or panchayat training room. Thus addressing the remoteness challenge by taking training centers to where the students were instead of the other way around. Also through on-job training opportunities within a catchment radius, the students get a taste of real earning possibilities. These opportunities are complemented by life skills training, aspiration of achievement and exposure to industry needs in an experiential manner.
Early Signs of Impact & Potential Evolution of the Model
The camp model has now evolved to offer on job trainings for a month or two after completion of the course – thus exposing the candidate to real life learning and livelihood scenarios, thus also increasing the probability of the candidate getting his/ her first real livelihood opportunity soon. It also forces the YP team to create more advance courses (leading to better livelihood options) at their centers, since basic training is done through the low cost camps model. The camps become a pipeline for the centers and partnerships that help YP expand its reach deep into the remote rural parts of India where this need is the most. Operated at a very low cost, using shared resources, a well designed curriculum and integrating it with locally relevant skills makes this model widen the base of impact for YP tremendously.
Some important statistics from the ground:
- Through their mobile camp prototypes, the model has touched more than 15,000 children in rural, remote villages across 3 states, in just a matter of 5 months
- More than half the youth attending these YP camps are school dropouts.
- More than 80% of them are from backward categories. Also more than 85% of them come from families having a total monthly income of less than Rs 10,000.
- The camps model has been able to demonstrate impact by linking more than 40% students to a real livelihood opportunity in the form of wage employment, self employment or an on job training opportunity.
In the next year, Yuva Parivartan plans to scale their camps model throughout Maharashtra – demonstrating the direct impact of this model and creating small pilots across 11 other states. This will result in the model reaching out to more than 40,000 rural youth across these states. Apart from this they are in the process of standardizing their camp modules into replicable formats, thus enabling other organizations to pick up their model and run with it. The core team is now confident of reaching out to a million youth and transforming the lives of school drop-outs, helping them get integrated into the formal employability sector, with the infusion of additional funding into the program. Discussions have now been initiated with the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) for potential funding and expansion through Government channels.
Kishor Kher, Founder of KSWA, the parent organization for the YP programme is emphatic about the need to facilitate several other NGOs and organizations to adopt learning and insights from the YP model and apply it in their regions. He believes that this form of fission or natural adoption is the key to ensuring that all youth in India have a second chance.
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