#JobsForAll: This woman entrepreneur is helping more than 20,000 migrants upskill themselves and find jobs amid COVID-19

The surge in the number of coronavirus cases and the ensuing lockdowns have forced thousands of migrants to move back to their home states without any jobs. Capacita Connect is helping them not only find jobs but also upskill themselves in different roles.
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of migrant workers have moved back to their home states due to unavailability of jobs and fear of contracting the infection. According to a study by the World Bank, an estimated 40 million internal migrants have been affected by the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns.

With an unprecedented loss of jobs and reverse migration affecting most states, the immediate concern is to get the migrants back on their feet. This is what Shipra Sharma Bhutani, Founder of Capacita Connect, is focused on doing through her online platform that connects skilled manpower with specific industries.

Making skills top priority

Shipra Sharma Bhutani, Founder of Capacita Connect (centre)

Shipra is no stranger to the plight of the underprivileged. The former Economics professor started out in 2008 with a small skills centre in Jaipur. Over the years, in partnership with the National Skills Development Corporation (Governments of India), she claims to have provided skill training and employment opportunities to thousands of people, including prisoners, army widows, and war-affected women in Afghanistan.

She has also equipped women prisoners in the Central Jail in Jaipur to become self-sufficient by providing them with training to work as beauticians, cooks, and make products out of paper and bamboo that were later sold in the jail shop.

Continuing with her focus to provide opportunities to those in need, Shipra has started a new initiative that helps migrants affected by the pandemic skill or reskill themselves so that they can continue to earn their livelihoods.

“When the lockdown was announced in March, a lot of migrant workers, especially from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, moved back to their home states. Our first priority was to collect a database of these workers, and we managed to collect details of 55 lakh people,” she tells HerStory.

The next step was to upskill these migrants in different areas – from teaching them how to make masks or PPE kits, to meet the immediate needs of industries.

Shipra says that in partnership with state governments, they were able to collect a database of people at the borders of the states. For example, when migrants from UP entered Rajasthan, the data collected helped them understand what kind of skills they possess.

“So, if a migrant worked in the textile industry for 10 years in Mathura, we have the requisite information to connect him to the textile industry in Rajasthan in need of skilled workers,” she adds.

Similarly, industries can access Capacita Connect’s database to find workers to suit their requirements.

An app to upskill and reskill

An upskilling session in progress

The startup is using its mobile app, Skill Mitra, to upskill migrant workers. “We are helping people learn how to make masks, how to become a delivery person, and more. Available in five languages, the edtech app has been developed to meet the needs of people who want to either upskill or reskill to get jobs and earn a livelihood,” Shipra says.

The skilling courses on the app are complemented by one-on-one sessions once a week at skilling centres run by Capacita Connect in these states.

Shipra tells stories of how a person found a job as a delivery person through Capacita Connect, and how a woman, who is the only breadwinner in the family, is sewing masks, supplying them to local retail shops, and earning Rs 15,000 a month.

“Companies like Portea approach me with demand, for say, 20 nurses in Udaipur, or Genus Inverters asked for 30-40 women to make masks and distribute them for free – it’s connecting both for a common good. What is also happening is that people are also changing job roles – someone who was earlier working as a mill worker is now working as a delivery boy,” she explains.

Till date, Shipra says she has helped 20,000 people find jobs. The team is also taking advantage of employment opportunities, especially in the healthcare, retail and logistics sectors which have been seeing a surge in demand ever since the restrictions were lifted. The company has so far supplied manpower to Amazon, Paytm, Portea, Rajasthan Tex, Just Clean, Swiggy, Zomato, and others.

Shipra and her team are also making a consistent effort to reach out to local industries in Rajasthan and UP to assure them of sufficient labour that they can hire from their portal.

“We are sending bulk SMSes to these 55 lakh people so that they do not panic and leave their states. We can help them provide jobs in their own states. We are also conducting jobs fairs to help speed up this process,” she says.

The entrepreneur’s future plans include digitising the entire skilling process, and diversifying the pool with a variety of skills so that more people can become plumbers, CNC operators, electricians or beauticians, according to the syllabus of the NSDC.

Edited by Kanishk Singh