When Covid 19 struck the nation in 2020, it not only took away lives, but it also took away livelihoods, schooling and employment opportunities for millions of people. Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy indicates that over 10 million people lost their jobs just in the second wave of Covid-19. As many as 97% households have experienced a decline in income since the pandemic began last year.
We had a dual challenge in the form of a large unemployed youth population and a desperate need for more Covid Warriors in the health sector. Moreover, there was a rising need for a digitally savvy generation to help us cope with the ‘new normal’.
Smile Foundation recognised this evolving need and hence reprogrammed its employability training initiative 'STeP' to fight these challenges by Training & Up Skilling the youth for employment, specifically for the pandemic era. This livelihood mission is in strong alignment with the Government of India’s ‘Skill India’ initiative. This initiative aims to skill underprivileged youth from urban slums in the 18-32 years age bracket and is operational through 81 centres across 18 cities in 16 states.
So far, Smile Foundation has trained over 65,000 youth through its STeP programme and more than 45,000 of them have been placed in over 350 brands across India.