Finding employment might be counted as one of today’s youths’ biggest concerns, as also challenges, and the situation in the picturesque Kashmir Valley is no different.
In fact, as per the Union Labour Bureau’s ‘Annual Employment and Unemployment Survey Report’, Jammu and Kashmir has the highest unemployment rate in North India.
The number of unemployed youths registered in various district employments and counselling centres was 6.01 lakh, 24.6 percent population in the age of (18-29 years) unemployed which is far more than All India unemployment rate of 13.2 percent, the report said.
To make people more employable, a group of young people from Central Kashmir’s Budgam district joined hands to launch the ‘Valley Skill and Craft Development Institute Kashmir’ (VSCDIK) in Magam area, around 25 km from Srinagar.
Founder Nazir Ahmad Ganaie says,
We launched this institute last year with the aim to reach to the marginalised youth as Budgam area lacks such opportunities.
Umar Maqbool, an IT graduate, Ishfak Ahmad, a mass communications graduate, and Shabir Ahmad Ganaie, who has a master’s in Urdu joined Nazir in his endeavour.
The four pooled in the money to set up the institute, and started with imparting skills to the marginalised youth in the area. The members say the speciality of the institute is that it is owned by people who were unemployed at one point.
In addition to teaching people, the Nazir says the institute also tries to help others get jobs.
Initially, the Valley Skill and Craft Development Institute offered basic skill-based courses in plumbing, electricals, mobile repairing, and basic computers.
As the institute became successful, more courses such as Web designing, graphic designing, English language, O-level courses and 3-D printing were introduced.
The institute is in the process of engaging with Vighyan Bhawan, a Pune-based organisation that offers courses to train students in 3-D printing technology.
In fact, impressed with the response, the University of Kashmir has affiliated the institute this year.
Affiliation with Kashmir University has not only helped us to grow, but they are kind enough to provided help academically to our students, said Umar.
Since its affiliation with the Kashmir University, the skill and craft development institute have been using social media to promote the institute and the courses it offers.
The institute currently offers six-month and one-year courses, and will soon start three-year courses in various skill-based programmes. Moreover, the institute will launch three-month courses on video editing, citizen journalism, acting, film making and script writing, for which classes will be held every Sunday.
A challenging journey
Not everything comes easy, and the four founders also had to face hardships while setting up the institute.
I expected more cooperation from the government department, we were asked to do a lot of paper work and once we did it, not much was achieved from it, says Shabir.
A Delhi-based NGO recognised their work, and decided to help the institute. Now, have rented a building which has a classroom, a computer lab and an office.
Not only is the institute imparting skills, it organises seminars, field trips and tries to find employment opportunities for students.
If someone is interested in web designing, we accordingly contact those organisations where we feel they fit best, says Ishfak.
“There is no specific qualification required for getting the admission. Students should have basic qualification of a – 10th or 12th standard. If somebody wants to go in plumbing, computer learning or other courses, they are free to join any course they want,” he added.
It is one the few institutes in the valley that provides such courses. The members said their aim is to offer training and employment to everyone.