Sakhsam gives young people the independence to explore their potential.

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Plan India’s Saksham Training Centre at Delhi, Lucknow, Dehradun, Jaipur, Mumbai and Bengaluru are full of young men and women taking avid notes as a trainer talks to them about workplace communication. In another section, youngsters launch into a role play that sensitises them on gender-relations in their personal spaces, within their communities and at the workplace. In yet another corner, girls engage in a lively debate about which strategies are best to convince their families to let them work, an opportunity often denied by the girls’ protective environment.

Started in 2010, Saksham focuses on ‘Neither in Education, Employment or Training (NEET)’ youth, especially girls, from urban and rural disadvantaged areas. The initiative arms them with free, market-oriented vocational skills, as well as job and entrepreneurial training. With support from corporates and Plan International offices, Plan India’s mission is to provide access to gainful employment to young girls in the age group of 18-29 years while also grooming today’s youth as representatives of a gender-just society. The programme also goes several steps further and includes basic IT skills, presentation, etiquette and basic business conversational skills in the training. Saksham has a strong focus on training that challenges gender stereotypes and widespread discrimination. Saksham engages parents, communities and employers on the subjects of gender equality, equal opportunities and economic empowerment of girls and women. The programme not only encourages young girls and women to take up skill training but also provides linkages to employment for mainstreaming their participation in socio-economic development.

Saksham was carefully designed after gathering market intelligence, researching available jobs and identifying the skill gap. Initial market studies identified potential trades for vocational training. Local employers in these sectors were then interviewed to gather skill requirements and gaps, which formed the basis of the training courses. Creating awareness among young people about job opportunities in the market, providing career counselling and imparting skills to negotiate with families, communities and employers were also designed into the course.

Plan India takes the training right into the communities to address the challenges raised by limited mobility for girls. Working in close association with their training and implementation partners, Plan India leverages the trust they have built over the years with communities to lower resistance to the idea of girls seeking employment and bring about social behavioural change from within the communities.

Saksham provides experiential learning before placing its young graduates into job openings and mentors them through the first six months to ensure that there are no dropouts. The programme also focuses on gender mainstreaming by taking care of particulars like evaluating the safety of the location and timings of not just their own training centres, but also of the places of employment of the young girls.

The success of Saksham lies in creating an informed and empowered youth force that seeks to create an equitable, economically secure and sustainable future for themselves and their families. Girls who graduate from Saksham leave with skills for not just gainful employment, but with an ability to make decisions and negotiate their rights with peers, parents and employers. The hard work of the Saksham team is validated by the strong and constant demand for Saksham-trained young women from local employers.

Highlights

  • 6000+ youths were provided job-oriented vocational and entrepreneurship training.
  • 60% of trained young people were girls.
  • 70% of the trained youth were placed in jobs including self-employment, of which 60% were girls.
  • Over 80% of the trained young people joined higher/next-level education post-training.
  • 3000+ young people were supported with career counselling.

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