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Why Apprenticeships In India Are More Important Than Ever

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

The coronavirus pandemic along with the lockdown restrictions destabilized the Indian economy and decreased the chances of getting jobs for many citizens as well as threatened India’s successful contribution to SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). Due to COVID-19, companies are trying to downsize their workforce to reduce the financial losses at least in terms of salaries when business is bringing very little or no profits. By May 2020, India’s unemployment rate has risen to 27.11% as compared to 8.74% in March.

Youth unemployment is an especially important challenge for India, considering that youth constitutes one-fifth of the Indian population.

In April 2020, 27 million Indians aged between 20–30 years lost their jobs, substantially reducing their household income.

Young women represent the most affected group because more than half of them were engaged in the hard-hit hospitality industry. In general, people are afraid of permanent exclusion from the workforce if no support will be guaranteed to them. Unless youth unemployment is prioritized, it can lead to social unrest and even wider economic gap between rich and poor.

Youth unemployment is an especially important challenge for India, considering that youth constitutes one-fifth of the Indian population. In general, people are afraid of permanent exclusion from the workforce if no support will be guaranteed to them. Unless youth unemployment is prioritized, it can lead to social unrest and even wider economic gap between rich and poor.

With the growing number of young men and women who want to work but do not have a chance to get a job, India needs to urgently address the skilling and employability issues. In this situation, apprenticeship seems to be a key scheme, which can help to support future employment prospects.

An efficient combination of studies and on-the-job training makes it beneficial both for the young generation and industry representatives to be engaged in the apprenticeship system. The youth can focus on their training and career start without having insecurities about the following employment, whereas businesses may find sustainable ways to decrease the expenditure, create growth opportunities, and stay competitive in the market.

In 2016, the Government of India launched the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) to promote apprenticeship and to incentivize employers who wish to engage apprentices. The scheme proposes to work pro-actively with the industries, including MSME to facilitate a tenfold increase in opportunities in the country by 2020. NAPS also mandate companies to engage apprentices according to their total employee strength as per the table below:

In Uttar Pradesh, 3371 companies are enrolled on the NAPS Portal before lockdown. The distribution of companies is, however, rather unequal because 40% of all UP companies are registered in four cities — Ghaziabad, Noida, Lucknow, and Kanpur. There is a vast potential for the apprenticeship system enrolment all around the state but local awareness on the Apprenticeship Act reforms is quite low. Incorrect perception of the regulations has to be addressed. Employers and candidates from various backgrounds should be informed about the transformational benefits they can receive through this engagement.

Being experienced in implementing the policies from paper to the ground and having strong relationships with local authorities, the RightWalk Foundation aspires to contribute to the development of the apprenticeship scheme in Uttar Pradesh. The employment situation is problematic not only because permanent residents lost their jobs but also because thousands of internal migrants returned to their home state from big cities where they used to earn before the lockdown.

The improvement of the apprenticeship system in the region would provide income source and skill development opportunities, foster inequality reduction, and stabilization of the local economy.

That is why RightWalk targets to increase the enrolments of companies on the NAPS portal from 3,371 to 10,000, the engagement of trade apprentices from 33,703 to 50,000 against a potential of ~280,000 and improve the quality of government ITIs from grade 1.6 to 2.5. In the first phase, we will target MSMEs, which contribute almost 60% of the total industrial output in the state, and in the second phase, large sector companies will be covered.

The strategy will be implemented with special benefits given to the companies that engage women and differently-abled apprentices because inclusion at the workplace is our top priority and an inalienable part of social and economic transformations.

For India, apprenticeships are now more important than ever because the lockdown indicated all the weak points in different institutions and dimensions of the country. These weak points should be viewed as our starting points for making a difference in a society on the way to ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Training and reskilling young men and women by giving them an opportunity to earn while they are learning through the apprenticeship system will support them in becoming self-reliable professionals and providing for the families, as well as help businesses achieve greater cost-efficiency and remain sustainable during the “new normal” times.

About the authors: Samina Bano is the Founder & CEO at RightWalk; Karan is the Head of Strategy at RightWalk; Polina Nezdiikovska is the Sr. Content Writer at RightWalk.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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