Prior to Covid, Smile Foundation’s Smile Twin e-learning Programme or STeP focused on providing soft skill training to underprivileged youth for jobs in retail and hospitality. STeP aims to not only develop and train the youth with necessary soft skills, but also provide them with job placements. The aforementioned industries were severely impacted as a consequence of the Covid-19 lockdown and the placement opportunities for these students went down drastically. As a result, Smile had to restructure the STeP curriculum to fit the current employment market. STeP has now shifted its focus to facilitate skilling and employment in sectors such as healthcare, digital marketing, BFSI (business, financial services and insurance), BPO (business process outsourcing) and e-logistics where the demand for workforce is rising rapidly.
Along with the support of multiple donors, Smile decided to explore the healthcare side of livelihood with a specific focus on GDA or General Duty Assistance. Around 40 GDA centers were established in October 2020 wherein students were educated on how to become a patient care executive. The three month long GDA training also entailed career counseling and engagement programs. Following this, the students were placed into various profiles. Some got placement in hospitals and clinics, some in home health aide services or HHA and some were placed in diagnostic labs. With the urgent need for more healthcare workers to help with the pandemic, this program thrived. Smile has now established 61 healthcare centers pan-India ensuring skilling and employment of over 7100 students.
Apart from this, BFSI and digital marketing sectors also gained huge popularity during the pandemic. Three digital marketing centers were set up in Bangalore, Noida and Talegaon respectively. Countless opportunities opened in business, financial services and insurance sectors; 313 students recieved training for the same and 60% of them have were placed. Some work in banks while some are insurance agents. Nine BFSI centres were opened between November’20 and April’21 which trained 945 students and placed more than 560. Additionally, the BPO sector opened three centers while the e-logistics sector opened two centers.
In courses like GDA, students are taught to understand things from the patients’ perspective. But additional training on the basic requirement of any job was urgently needed. Hence, students were provided with training in Core Employability skills regardless of what they chose to specialize in. This training provided students with knowledge on how to communicate with customers/stakeholders, how to correctly write emails, how to engage in team work, how to access web portals, etc. The skills covered in this course are a necessity for anyone looking for employment in today’s job market and have helped STeP students tremendously in procuring placements.
Overall, STeP has provided training to over 66,625 youth, 40,294 of which secured jobs that they enjoy and provide support for themselves and their families with. Others chose to pursue higher learning and explore more opportunities with their new found skills and confidence. To know more about STeP, visit https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/e_learning.html