Optimising CSR for skilling Rural India
16th Dec, 2020
- India being one of the youngest countries in terms of its massive population below the age of 25 years, India has been reeling under the dearth of skilled workforce, which leads to the problems of unemployment, under-employment and disguised unemployment.
- India is sitting on a goldmine of talent which needs to be turned productive by equipping them with knowledge and skills, strategically needed for socio-economic development.
Need for Skill
- Due to 'low skill' or 'mismatched skill' levels, the rate of unemployment in rural areas is higher than the rate in urban areas.
- Though agriculture sector contributes 16 percent to the country's GDP, Farming sector is gradually being perceived by rural youth as non-lucrative due to several factors.
- Dovetailing of farming and non-farming sectors is missing. Traditional and ancestral livelihood activities, arts and crafts in rural areas are getting extinct. Earlier the education system had inadequate focus on vocational training, rendering the young population academically qualified but unskilled.
- The "Skill India" mission, launched in 2015, aims to empower youth by imparting skill and make them employable and productive. Under this mission, a flagship scheme- Pradhan MantriKaushalVikasYojana (PMKVY) is promoting skill development by providing industry-designed training and certification to youth.
- The New Education Policy (NEP 2020) is also a welcome step to integrate Vocational Education and skill-based learning in school and college curriculum.
- By creating pools of trained manpower and enabling them for better livelihood options, companies can contribute to local and national economy in a sustainable way.
- As per Section 35 of the Companies Act 2013, profitable companies are mandated to spend 2 percent of their profit in CSR activities. And, Schedule VII of the Act prescribes areas like skill development, livelihood generation and rural development among many to be taken up under CSR initiative.
- SDG-4, Target 4.3 aims for equal accessibility to affordable and quality technical and vocational education.
Scope of CSR
- Companies with their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda can complement and supplement the action of Government towards it.
Enhancing the Skill Ecosystem
- As per a CSR reporting survey, education and skill development sector has been receiving the highest CSR fund for years.
- Companies through their CSR initiative may consider several strategies in contributing to skill development.
- Understanding the existing skill profile of local youth and identifying the gap is critical before chalking out the plan for skill building exercise. Training Need Assessment (TNA) of youths should be conducted through counseling intervention.
- Develop institutional framework for augmenting skill development efforts.
- Centres of Excellence (CoEs), in the areas of expertise of the company, can be set up for conducting Training of Trainers (ToT) programmes.
- Synchronisation of "Skill India" Mission with several other programmes of Government like "Make in India", "Digital lndia", "Start-up India, "Stand-up India", "Smart Cities" etc should be promoted.
- Companies must upgrade skill of employees engaged in the line of their supply chains.
- Industries must identify futuristic skill areas by regularly assessing the challenges and opportunities the society is facing.
- Companies should provide training to rural youths on new-age skills.
- Under CSR initiative, traditional and dying professions can be revived by preserving and promoting such skills.
- Rural youth must be offered with a bouquet of choices for training on advanced farming well as non-farming activities.
- CSR initiative should focus for skill development of marginalised sections, women and people with disabilities.
- CSR should encourage rural entrepreneurship as it is complementary to skilling. Abundance of small enterprises in tribal and rural hinterlands boosts and sustains the skilling ecosystem by developing local economy.
- The objectives of Skill India mission can be successfully accomplished only if rural skilling is given right and proper importance. For this involvement of the corporate sector, through its CSR, needs to be more strategic and effective.
- With a growing and vibrant CSR sector in the country now-a-days, matching contribution from companies to the efforts of the Government in skilling rural youth is exceedingly desired.
- Hence, enabling and proactive environment should be created for eliciting optimum input from corporate houses for skilling rural India.