COVID- 19 has disrupted every aspect of our lives, and while we are gradually returning to normalcy, the social and economic integration of youths has been an ongoing challenge. The pandemic had rapidly translated into an economic crisis; it has been particularly hard on youths in lower-income countries. As per the recent study known as Global Survey on Youths: one in 6 people who were employed before the outset of the pandemic have stopped working (majority of them are youths in the age group 18-24), and those involved in clerical work, crafts, support services, etc. Thus, the pandemic has brought a toll on the employment prospects for the youth. Similarly, COVID-19 left one in eight people without access to training courses, a situation that is particularly acute amongst youth in lower-income countries. This also highlights the sharp digital divide in certain regions. It has impeded their education, stunted employment opportunities, and left them in a state of uncertainty about their future.
Can corporate India step in to make a difference to the scenario?
Visionet India MD and country head Alok Bansal thinks we can. And that is why his digital-led business process management and technology firm wants to invest in India’s youth. He says, we have initiated ‘Unnati for ‘India,’ a program that can help promising young people to skill themselves to keep up with the evolving job market. There is talent in India in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, but perhaps it doesn’t get enough opportunity to blossom. We feel it is time to go beyond corporate social responsibility and create a real impact on society by skilling and empowering the country’s most significant resource; its young people.”
He says many graduates or undergraduates with dreams of joining MNC companies may have followed a curriculum that is not aligned with what corporate India wants. He adds, “This gap may deny them employment slots they want. So, how do we help them out? How do we create a platform which helps them fulfill their dreams?”
The answer lies in the problem itself. Since even a pandemic hit the world, one thing that has continued to accelerate is digital technology, ‘Unnati for ‘India’ plans to skill the young to be a part of this shift rather than fall behind.” This skilling process will be free of cost and will potentially make lakhs of young Indians employable when unemployment is spiraling. The world is dabbling at the moment with digital transformation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cryptocurrencies, NLP’s (Natural Language Processing), and India’s youth could be a considerable asset to multiple industries that need an increasing number of minds and hands to process data.
A degree on paper, says Alok, does not equip even engineers and computer science graduates to have the skill sets required today. Typically, the training institutes will charge anywhere between Rs 50000 to Rs 2.5 lakh per person for such a program. And we teach young people to be a part of the delivery, project, and production process so that they can see live demonstrations of how the industry works. These candidates become eligible for a placement at Visionet and will have the requisite skills to get employment in other companies of their choice.”
Last year, Visionet announced its plan to train over one lakh graduates over the next five years to make them employable in the information technology and BPM sectors and started the first skill development batch of a 45-day program for 500 young professionals.
Over 600 young people have been trained so far, and 90% of them have been absorbed in the corporate stream in the last year.
The skilling program is open to undergraduates and graduates from any stream, and the 45 to 60-day training will be a combination of classroom and online modules. It is clear that an undertaking of this expanse needs to be a collaborative process, and so ‘Unnati for ‘India’ aims to work in synergy with the government, NGOs, and social enterprises. At this point, training is being imparted at Visionet’s Coimbatore, Mumbai, and Bengaluru offices, and soon the skilling process will extend to other cities as well.
Alok says “A special team will be created to tie-up with colleges as well. Despite pandemic-related operational challenges, we know that this is how we can positively impact society. So, we will continue to scale up, keep developing training infrastructure, inspire and motivate the young to invest in and commit to their potential with discipline, which sometimes they don’t have, and help them see the big picture of their future. We will continue to help them see that they can be future-ready with focus and determination. We hope to integrate our curriculum with the education system, so that skill and information become seamless.”
In the end, says Alok, “’Unnati for ‘India’ stands for exactly what the name suggests. A higher standard of living and progress for every Indian. We want to reach out to the talent who are underserved. For a significant impact and economic development to occur, there needs to be a paradigm shift at the grassroot level to enable the country to grow and prosper inclusively. We need to focus on skill development through cohesive efforts.”