Investing in Youth Skills Development

TechnoServe and J.P. Morgan are partnering on a program to improve workforce readiness among youth in India.

Shy and introverted, Noorjahan Ansari was initially a passive participant in the first batch of the Youth Employability Program being implemented by TechnoServe in Mumbai, India. A college sophomore, 20-year-old Noorjahan was timid in her interactions within the group and seemingly lacked confidence.

As the program unfolded, Noorjahan’s participation increased in the group exercises and the various platforms provided. She blossomed, and went on to impress the trainers and her fellow participants with her planning methods, leadership abilities during the group activities and presentation skills. For the trainers at the course, it was a vivid and satisfying demonstration of the efficacy of a program that could potentially change lives.

Partnership with J.P. Morgan

TechnoServe and J.P. Morgan India have partnered to implement a one-year program that will increase access to skills, training and employment opportunities for youth living in Mumbai. The Youth Employability Program targets disadvantaged youth aged 18-25 and aims to raise their income levels and standard of living.

“The Youth Employability Program draws on our experience in Africa and Latin America. As in other developing countries it is imperative that we focus on opportunities for youth in India in order to ensure a stable and prosperous future for the region,” says Punit Gupta, TechnoServe’s India Country Director. “With the right support, young people can identify and capitalize on opportunities that will improve their livelihoods and strengthen their communities.”

It is imperative that we focus on opportunities for youth in India in order to ensure a stable and prosperous future for the region.
– Punit Gupta, Country Director, TechnoServe India

Launched in March 2015, the program brings together three important employability levers – skills training, career counselling and job linkages – enabling the beneficiaries to take up employment suited to their skills and career aspirations.

Using an effective outreach model involving colleges and community centers, the program will engage 2,500 youth in Mumbai, and create access through career centers established in high density areas. The goal is to enrol 1,250 youth into the program and support over half in vocational training. In the final phase, TechnoServe aims to facilitate more than 400 youth in joining the organized workforce.

Focus on Skills

According to the latest State of World Population report from the U.N., India has the world’s largest youth population estimated at 356 million people. Poised to become one of the youngest nations in the world by 2020, India has to deal with the challenge of gainfully employing 63.5 million young people entering the work force between 2011 and 2016, according to India’s Ministry of Labour and Employment. To address this formidable task, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Skill India initiative on World Youth Skills Day last month, aiming to provide skills training to 400 million people by the year 2022.

Recognizing the need for targeted interventions, J.P. Morgan identified urban youth skill development, especially in the lower-income neighborhoods of metro cities in India, as a potential area for social impact. Mumbai city in Maharashtra state is one of the most concentrated locations for youth in Asia. The city sees steady in-migration from the poorer districts of Maharashtra, as well as other states in India, attracted by livelihood opportunities in the industrial and service sectors.

For TechnoServe, the project provides an opportunity to create an impact in India’s most populous city and engage bright young women like Noorjahan. Aspiring to be a teacher, Noorjahan says that the training has helped her identify her strengths and weaknesses and set more realistic goals in life.