Monday, January 26, 2015

Challenges in Skilling Rural Youth

I am not sure if these are challenges only with Rural youth or the challenges of youth in India in general.

I am writing here what I believe is happening and hence needs to be addressed by the country at large - not just the training community.

The training organizations moving into small towns and rural India struggle with meaningful skilling of youth.  When I say meaningful - is to say whether the youth are employable as accepted by Industry, or more importantly, the youth know that they need to do to work at it for a a couple of years before they are on track on their aspirations.

Here are a few critical challenges that I have observed in my experience with training the youth (in slums, small towns and rural areas):

1. Each student has had a varied exposure - challenging the standard and cookie cutter courseware and training.  This leads to dropping of interest after just the first few classes.  Unfortunately, the common challenge on top of this is the key belief that all of them need to learn English whereas the problem is in communication skills.  Another way of saying the same thing - ability to 'understand' a question and being able to share individual's own 'thoughts' on the matter.  So when they are taught 'English' they feel they are learning but actually dont end up performing when any one other than a teacher speaks with them.

2. Perception of what is the job they want varies, again, dramatically.  So the challenge begins with what course to join.  And even if the counsellors push them into a course - the dilemma continues through the course.  This leads to low learning motivation and at the end of the course - not necessarily striving for the job options.  Most of the rural youth are looking for government jobs and not linked with skill or interest.  There is a linked challenge of the salary being the key determinant of the job type.

3. Students are used to school and college education where they can get by even when they miss classes.  Their understanding of passing the exam as the main thing is deeply etched with 10-12 years of education.  What this does is that training - building skills with practice and hence attitude and specific skills beyond the required knowledge - is missed out practically for most students.

At each place and location these kept recurring and were the biggest hurdles to scaling the training and hence employability.  We have had piecemeal and temporary locational solutions but nothing concrete and scaleable yet.

The quest continues ...

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