Established in 2005, Skill Training, Employability and Placement (STEP) Academy’s programmes have had a transformative impact on the lives of 16,000-plus rural youth and their families, providing them with greater income security and dignity in employment
Published on August 14, 2021 at 5:21 am
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shone a harsh spotlight on how we function as a society. The particularly distressing images of swathes of migrant workers travelling home any way they could bring the harsh world of migration for employment into mainstream vernacular.
Kanaram, a tribal youth was working as a stone carver in Surat when the first nationwide lockdown was announced. Having earned only 400 rupees a day and with his meagre savings running out, Kanaram looked to his employer of many years to brave through the complete halt of economic activity. However, with no help forthcoming Kanaram with some of his fellow statesmen decided to travel back to their village in Rajasthan. But due to the lockdown, transportation was at a complete standstill forcing them to make the 500 kilometres journey on foot. With little or no money, food or water the nightmarish trek left a deep impact on Kanaram’s psyche. Although stone carving is a highly skilled profession, it is also a death knell for many who practice it. Silicosis of the lungs is a deadly irreversible disease commonly found in people employed in the profession. But with his migration back home, Kanaram was now unemployed with his only skill rendered useless in the village. Migrating to Surat had always been a distressing move for him but now he was adamant not to ever relive the deeply painful last few days he had spent in Surat and the lonely walk back home.
After learning about Aajeevika Bureau’s skill training programmes from his acquaintances, Kanaram approached Aajeevika Bureau’s training centre providing a commercial tailoring training programme for men. He was counselled about the various programmes run by the organisation including tailoring which is a very different skill from stone carving. Having made up his mind, Kanaram enrolled in the programme in March of 2021. Following the completion of the training, Aajeevika provided him with a sewing machine and some other tools which have helped him open a tailoring shop out of his house in the village. Although he might not be earning the same amount of money he made in Surat, his expenses are lesser and he lives with his family in his own village.
Kanaram is one among many returnees who have benefited from the skill training programmes. Not limiting to the current pandemic, many returnees and even people who migrate have enrolled in the customised skill training programmes which provide them with a more solid base for employment as they are not thrust into the lowest income bracket of unskilled labour.
The following is a little snapshot of Aajeevika Bureau and the work it strives to do.
Aajeevika Bureau is a specialised public service initiative working to enhance the dignity and well-being of families who are dependent on migration and informal labour as their prime source of livelihood. Working across Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, it has facilitated over 10 lakh linkages in a range of high impact services to migrant communities, besides undertaking research and advocacy on important issues related to labour migration.
Skill Training, Employability and Placement (STEP) Academy was established in 2005 to further the mandate of skill training and enhancement for migrant communities. STEP Academy operates out of Udaipur with one main residential facility and three satellite centres in rural Udaipur and Dungarpur. The Academy works closely with the walk-in migrant resource centres run by Aajeevika Bureau, known as Shramik Sahayata Evam Sandharbh Kendras (Migration Resource Centres) for sourcing, training and post-placement support of trained youth. STEP Academy provides short-duration training courses, consisting of theoretical knowledge, practical skills and important life skills, making up for a complete package for enhanced employability of the youth. Programmes at STEP have had a transformative impact on the lives of 16,000-plus rural youth and their families, providing them with greater income security and dignity in employment.
STEP offers three kinds of trainings to vulnerable migrant youth, specially tailored to suit their requirements. These trainings are carried out on a monthly basis:
Hunar: Residential trainings which last for 30 days and cover theoretical inputs, practical training (through on-site internships) and have dedicated emphasis on developing life skills.
OJT: On-the-job trainings (45 days) are designed for low-end construction and service sector workers who are unable to undergo formal training. These trainings are carried out by incentivising master technicians to train 2-3 workers on their worksites, aided by a structured curriculum.
Unnati: Refresher courses for skill up-gradation of existing low-wage workers in construction, light engineering and services sector. Fifteen-day training capsule catering to new and experienced workers, returnees and also women wishing to augment household incomes.
In addition to the above three formats, entrepreneurial training assistance is provided to women from migrant families, seeking to enhance their earning by setting up small home-based enterprises.
There is an emphasis on undertaking post-training, tracking and follow up and offering handholding support to individual trainees to ensure their smooth integration with the labour markets.
Direct Placement: This is a special service offered by STEP Academy to relatively better-educated youth on a lookout for jobs in the hotel and hospitality, security industry and other formal sectors.