Providing young people – particularly young women and disadvantaged youth – with the skills they need to secure decent work is essential to help them escape poverty and reach their potential.
The Saksham project, supported by Plan International India in partnership with civil society organisations and a youth employment agency, provides job-oriented vocational skills and entrepreneurship training to young people aged 18 to 25 from Delhi’s slums, with girls making up at least 60% of the participants.
The training courses range from retail and customer relations to hospitality and IT. Life skills and personal development classes are also included to help young people learn to communicate, as well as explore wider issues such as family planning and women’s rights.
Overcoming gender barriers
To help overcome the barriers caused by gender inequality and discrimination, the Saksham project particularly reaches out to girls - and their families are involved from the start.
Anamika Sharma, Saksham project coordinator at Plan International India, says it can be difficult to convince families to let their daughters take part but everyone benefits:
“The parents, brothers, even girls’ younger brothers, have authority over her life. We demonstrate the importance of school and work. Girls can quickly earn more than their parents. The living standards of the whole family increase if the girls work.“
Before joining the Saksham centre, I had no targets in life
Alka is among the 3,000 young people who have already benefited from the scheme. “Before joining the Saksham centre, I had no targets in life. I applied for jobs but I was never taken on because I didn’t have any skills. Now, I am working as a fashion assistant at Future Group and my family and I are very happy with my situation,“ she says.
Supporting young women in work
Multinational companies along with local businesses have supported the project, which enjoys a 90% job placement rate.
As soon as young women find a job the project provides personalised monitoring for the first 6 months to ensure they receive the support they need. An alumni network has also been developed to help girls get professional advice and support.
Anita, delegate manager for customer relations at Costa Coffee, says: “Saksham is a very good training institution, particularly for girls. It’s a safe environment. The Saksham team constantly monitors their young people, makes sure that they are motivated and gives them careers advice and counselling on their future.”