Smile’s STeP in the right direction for youth

Youth trained in STeP programme

Looking at the current job situation in our country, future for our youth appears dreary. Slow economy, lack of new investment, job cuts, rise of automation, stagnation in manufacturing activity and a “new normal” of hiring contract labour in the formal economy, are major hurdles preventing our semi-skilled workforce to find jobs.

As of date, unemployment in India is at a 45-year high of 6.1 per cent as per the officially unannounced NSSO statistics.  The Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private think tank, has calculated unemployment rate at 7.7 per cent as of December 2019. Both the NSSO and the CMIE have found that the jobless rate among youth is significantly higher compared to the overall population and hence it requires immediate attention. 

States which are hardest hit are Tripura, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh with unemployment rate of more than 20%. Delhi, the capital and employment hub of the country, presently has an unemployment rate of 11.2%. 

Youth trained in the STeP programme

Smile Foundation’s STeP programme – (Smile Twin E-learning Programme) which is a livelihood programme for the youth comes as a sure ray of hope for many.

Smile’s STeP programme aimed at skilling the youth is not just a medium of education, but a means of nurturing the mental health and personality development of the underprivileged youth, facilitating them to do their part in making the world a better place.

The livelihood program has succeeded, where most ‘vocational’ training courses fail, i.e. to address the requirement of soft skills needed at the workplace and making the candidates confident through comprehensive training on personality development.

Data from the past five years of STeP programme, shows that of the 34,897 youth trained, 22,498 have successfully been placed, which is a good 65%.

But how is the big question? The Smile skilling program – with components of spoken English, basic computers, financial literacy, personality development and industry visits— in the form of exposure to the job-sites of potential recruiters, where these students get to see and feel things first hand. Mock interviews and group discussions are also conducted as part of the curriculum make the candidates job ready.

Youth trained in the STeP programme
Youth trained in the STeP programme

Smile Foundation also also operates a Centralised Placement Cell, where the backend team often works with potential employers from different sectors to understand their needs, analyse them and create opportunities for students, both through on and off-campus placements. Over time, the course content is often tweaked according to the industry trends and requirements.

 STeP often ties-up with popular brands, often, start-ups like Paytm, OYO Townhouse, Café Coffee Day to name some that require semi-skilled workforce, then works out the course content accordingly.  

The programme which caters to the underprivileged youth, also offers career counseling to help students choose the right employment in tune with their skills, ability and job expectations.

Most of the candidates trained at STeP centres evolve into first-generation organised sector professionals becoming an inspiration for their siblings, upcoming generations and communities at large.

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Jaya Shroff

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