Saksham: A Unique Program For Women Employment & Skills
The Saksham program of Plan India is providing marginalised women in India new livelihood opportunities as entrepreneurs or employees at major organizations besides higher education
For young girls and women, hailing from economically lower or from rural background, finding employment is a distant dream. India has one of the largest and youngest population in the world yet women continue to remain economically vulnerable due to various socio-political compulsions.
According to an Ernst and Young survey, 80% of the Indian workforce does not possess identifiable marketable skills. One of the primary reasons is the absence of skill building process in our education system and inability to provide suitable and locally relevant programmes because of which there exists a huge skills demand – supply gap.
Thanks to a unique initiative called Saksham, that is making the dream of young India a reality. 19 year old Neha is today working with a major coffee chain because of the training she received at Saksham in an urban Delhi village. Neha was educated till class 12 but later had to drop out due to financial crunch. Neha is not alone in this moment of success. Hundreds of woman like Neha have found new avenues, freedom and confidence. They have become role models and are bringing change in their communities.
The Saksham programme is Plan India’s initiative to fulfill the dream of young aspirants by creating an equitable and sustainable future. It equips disadvantaged youth, especially young girls from marginalised communities, with access to the best opportunities for learning, personalised to meet their diverse needs, interests and aspirations. Under the programme, young girls in the age group of 18-29 years, are given skill development training for either 3 or 6 months. After successful completion of training they are given opportunities for employment in major companies/ brands in retail sector.
The training programme uses several key approaches to ensure that the skill sets provided are in line with market demands. Initially, a thorough market study identifies potential trades for vocational training. Local employers in these sectors are then targeted, who provide requirements on the based on which the training courses are developed. The course is free for the youth and they are trained in basic IT skills, presentation and etiquette, and language skills that enable them to hold basic conversation in English.
Plan India creates awareness among young people about job opportunities in the market and provides career counselling, as well as engaging with families, communities, and employers to create an empowering environment for the youth. Due to the quality of the training and the skilled employees that have been created, there is a constant demand from local employers for Saksham-trained youth.
Since 2010, Saksham, programme has trained 4,583 youth and have successfully placed over 3,498 young aspirants in Delhi’s suburb areas like Mehrauli, Mahipalpur, Dwarka and Badarpur. After the completion of the training, youth have been placed with major companies such as Futures Group, Reliance, Pantaloons, Big Bazaar and KFC, Café Coffee Day among others. 3,000 youth from the 4 centers have also enrolled for higher education while over 2,700 young women have been provided new livelihood opportunities, earning upwards of INR 10,000.
Neha says, “Before joining Saksham, I had absolutely no idea I would be working with a major coffee chain. The boost I received for my confidence has stayed with me ever since. In my current job. I deal with men as my colleagues and also as customers on a daily basis. It is a sea of change from a reticent girl I was only a few months ago. I find the whole retail business fascinating.”
Plan India, a member of Plan International Federation, is a nationally registered independent child development and humanitarian organisation working for the upliftment of vulnerable and marginalised children, their families and communities from poverty, violence and injustice. For over 36 years, Plan India and its partners have supported over a million children access their rights to protection, basic education, proper healthcare, a healthy environment, livelihood opportunities and participation in decisions which affect their lives.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said, ‘Saksham’ initiative has particularly focused on ensuring equal opportunities to girls from its program communities for skill building. More than 2500 girls have been trained at the Saksham Centers and have been placed in various multinational companies. The program is not just about skill building and jobs but it is also ensuring that the girls are able to make the choices for themselves whether it’s about higher education, jobs or about marriage. Saksham has ensured that these girls will not only choose better options for themselves but will also influence their families and communities”.
Ernst & Young study shows that more than 75% of future job opportunities will be skill-based. Recognizing that India’s future growth will depend on a much greater supply of skilled workers, Plan India will focus to upgrade vocational education and aims to touch the lives of 100,000 youths by 2020. Hopefully, the market orientation will ensure that Saksham stays on track and scales up to the next level.
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