Ashish Kumar’s life changed at the age of nine when an incident in school left him with partial speech and hearing loss. Not knowing what the future held, his family was worried. A few years later, his father heard about a programme run by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) as part of the Skill India initiative and enrolled him in one of the designated centres, where he underwent training to become a Retail Sales Associate.
He learnt sign language and other necessary skills needed for the role, and today the 25-year-old from Uttar Pradesh is employed as a Retail Sales Associate in global food services company Compass Group, earning a modest but steady income.
“Through the training, I gained a lot of confidence. The entire learning process, and especially the mock interviews, helped me crack the interview with Compass Group. Today, I am a strong and independent person,” says Ashish.
Like Ashish, 26-year-old Neeraj is also speech and hearing impaired. The youth from Haryana lost both his parents at an early age and was brought up by his elder sister. In the midst of abject dejection, he got to know about the NSDC-affiliated training centres. He enrolled for a two-month course, and today he is employed as a Housekeeping Associate in a luxury hotel in the NCR.
“Thanks to this training, I am earning well and contributing financially to my own home and buying all the things I desire,” he says.
These initiatives and certification programmes run by NSDC in collaboration with training partners across the country aim to make India’s youth more employable and financially independent through high-quality, market-relevant skill training.
It is estimated that India is set to become home to the world’s largest workforce by 2027, one of the key reasons why equipping the millions of youngsters and making them competent and confident to be a part of this workforce is crucial. These programmes are designed to do exactly that, while also ensuring that the trained candidates get placed in well-established organisations, including hospitals, MNCs and star hotels.
Another beneficiary of one such skilling scheme is Ramya, who battled gender stereotypes with her father’s support and is a successful micro-entrepreneur today.
From Shayampet, a remote village in Warangal district of Telengana, where the norm is to get girls married as soon as they turn 18, Ramya and her father bucked the trend. With his help, Ramya enrolled in a skill development programme in eye care, after she completed her PUC. She successfully completed the course and became a certified refractionist. Today, she owns and runs an Eye Mitra optical store in her neighbourhood, with a monthly turnover of Rs 25,000 and a profit of Rs 10,000-15,000 a month. In addition, she was selected for an EMO adoption programme that involves sponsorship of micro-entrepreneurs and eye care practitioners to help grow their business.
Ajesh, another micro-entrepreneur in the making, is a school dropout from Kerala’s Kannur district who was not interested in academics. While he wanted to pitch in financially to help his five-member family where his elder brother was the sole earning member, no job interested him. That was until he attended a skilling fair in his town organised under the Skill India mission.
“The event gave me and my friends exposure to various opportunities for a livelihood. The beautician’s course interested me and I immediately enrolled for the programme,” he says. Although the role of a beautician is typically oriented towards women, Ajesh’s family and friends encouraged him to break the stereotype and pursue his interest.
“Besides the skills for becoming a beautician, the course also prepared me for the job market and taught me customer relation skills, business skills and communication skills. I got placed with a good beauty parlour and spa, and one day I want to start my own salon,” says Ajesh.
Like Ajesh, 20-year-old Adil is realising that he doesn’t need to limit the scope of his dreams because he wasn’t born in a big city. “Little could I have imagined that a two-month course as part of the Retail Sales Associate programme, that too in my home district, would open new windows of opportunity for me,” says this Bundi resident. “The course gave me confidence about my own ability to do well and taught me how to handle situations and evaluate opportunities. IT skills, spoken English and confidence in communication were the best things that I learned, apart from the main course.”
Today, he has come a long way from a small town in Rajasthan to being employed in one of India’s leading fintech companies.
These are but a few of the millions of such stories of youngsters who are getting a new lease of life and a chance to explore opportunities to improve their lives and that of their loved ones, and helping power the dream of a New India.