Because of poor schooling and virtually no investment in their technical skills, vast numbers of young migrants enter the labour market as unskilled workers. Poor skills result in unstable work, low wages and early exit from employment. There is also poor access to information on new opportunities and linkages for diversification.
Aajeevika Bureau's skills intervention is anchored with Skill Training Employability and Placement Academy (STEP Academy) - a unique learning and training institution for rural youth. The STEP Academy builds technical and life skill competence and helps young people find suitable employment.
While sound technical training is at the heart of STEP Academy's work, there is considerable emphasis on building positive values, leadership, and aspirations in youth. The time spent at the STEP Academy is intended to help youth succeed as workers, entrepreneurs and citizens.
The training programs at STEP Academy are mainly residential and range from 4 to 6 weeks duration. New training formats suited to unique requirements of different trainees have also been introduced. These include:
Hunar: A 30 day residential training programme organised in STEP Academy's main campus in Udaipur. This programme immerses young trainees in new skills in construction, light engineering, services and entrepreneurship.
Nirmaan: Two week training aimed at upgrading young workers in the construction sector by exposing them to new techniques and technology.
Unnati: A week to ten days' long training specially designed to promote entrepreneurial skills among rural youth such that they are able to set up small businesses and build market linkages.
STEP Academy runs a unique On Job Training (OJT) programme to enable such youth become skilled workers who are already employed and cannot take time off to be trained in a class room setting. This programme creates new possibilities of skilling up vast numbers of workers particularly in the construction sector.
Upon successful completion, the trainees are awarded a certificate and found suitable placements or provided financial assistance and guidance for starting up their own enterprises.
Aajeevika's experiences suggest that the challenges of employability are not limited to lack of technical skills - migrant youth from low-income, disadvantaged backgrounds also struggle with low confidence, low bargaining power, low awareness of rights and unclear, often failing aspirations that keep their options limited. STEP's training include a strong component of building life skills among its young trainees using a wide range of innovative and interactive tools of creative learning, exploration and analysis.
STEP Academy regularly brings together prospective employers and youth through counselling camps, placement meets and interviews. STEP maintains a database of youth and responds to requests from employers looking to recruit workers. The Academy ensures that employers and workers link with each other through an open discussion on fair remuneration, decent work conditions and security.