Within three months of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approving the Rs 235 crores Skill, Empowerment and Employment (SEE) scheme – now named Himayat – to create one lakh jobs in five years for J&K, the Rural Development Ministry has almost 300 working boys and girls, a Kashmir Life report.
You have to battle cynicism and the motivation in business and (state) government is zero,” Union Rural Development Minister Jai Ram Ramesh told his officials and the trainers implementing Skill, Empowerment and Employment (SEE) scheme last week. “But we have to show that we mean business and we will deliver.”
A game-changer in the union cabinet, Jai Ram was in Srinagar for the first time after taking charge of the RD ministry. “The first thing, I asked my officials was if they are doing anything in J&K and when they talked about SEE, I decided to come and oversee how it is going.”
He spent a complete day talking to all the stake-holders – the trained, trainers, officials, and the parents, to understand the systems involved in its implementation. On certain issues, he took on spot decisions and changed certain fundamental issues in the scheme. He set certain benchmarks for the implementation of the scheme.
SEE is a peculiar scheme that is placement linked and market driven. Aimed at reducing unemployment, the scheme was suggested by Dr C Rangarajan in January 2011. The noted economist who has been involved in many initiatives on Kashmir was tasked to offer some quick yielding way-outs after the 2010 unrest. SEE was one of the many initiatives that he suggested in the draft that was dubbed Rangarjan-III.
Targeted at school dropouts to college educated from BPL and non-BPL categories, the scheme offers aspirants tailor-made crash courses for salaried jobs or self-employment initiatives according to their interest. Placements take place in private sector, within and outside J&K.
Centrally Sponsored Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) was slightly amended to become the main resource base for the new initiative. SGSY is usually restricted to the BPL population.
It is expected to offer 100 thousand livelihoods within five years, 70 percent funds are earmarked to be utilized for training for salaried employment and the rest for self-employment linked training. The trainer agencies (project implement agency) have to give 75 percent placement guarantee for the trained youth. The project is focussed particularly on districts that are disturbed or have high incidence of poverty. Union Home Ministry will screen the selected lot and the PIA has to install biometric device for attendance. All the trained will get UID numbers on priority.
The CCEA approved the plan in May. Of the Rs 235.30 crores required for the scheme, Rs 70.59 crore will come from SGSY to take care of training youth and the remaining will be covered under a special scheme. The scheme takes care of the 18-35 age group.
“By now two PIAs have trained well around 430 boys and girls and 290 of them are actually working and taking salaries home,” Jai Ram told Kashmir Life. “By the end of September 2012, we should have managed placements for 15000 youth in the services sector within and outside J&K.” Jai Ram asked the representatives of the two PIAs to place 800 youth by end of December.
ILFS Skill School and Don Basco Technology Institute are the two PIAs which have got the contract and are actually working in J&K. IL&FC is tasked to create 23000 livelihoods and Dan Basco has got a contract for 15000 more. The balance requirement could be shared by one or more companies once implementation goes into a fast forward mode. Jai Ram hinted that Dr Reddy’s Foundation, Techno Pak and Hero Mind Man are the probable entrants in the field of SEE implementation.
SEE has clear guidelines about the systems involved in its implementation. Though there are three different training capsules – one month, three months and nine months for which they get different fees, the average per head cost is around Rs 23000. The amount is being released in three instalments through monitoring agencies like NABARD, and NIRD.
The PIAs are supposed to ensure appropriate content, with inputs from the industry to ensure employability. Apart from technical skills, soft skills are also to be imparted to beneficiaries to face transition challenges of moving from agriculture background to the industry environment. The PIA’s are supposed to offer boarding & lodging facilities wherever it is necessary and in other cases trainees are to be provided with to and fro transport and food.
In the daylong interactions, those who bagged some job in the private sector were excited and content with their achievements. Some of them had accompanied their parents to the venue so that they could share their experiences of seeing their wards becoming useful from apparently being useless and idle.
“I did my three year training and now I am a manager with the Hatrick group,” a young girl from Rainawari said. “I am happy that I am working as a data processor and it is beginning of a change in my life,” added another young lady from Khanyar. A labourer from Budgam was excited that his graduate son has somehow got a job in Jammu after availing the scheme.
Under the scheme, the PIAs place candidates outside J&K as well. As many as 30 candidates have so far been placed outside the state. “There were certain problems because of accommodation but we granted certain funds to bridge that gap,” one of the two PIAs told The KL. Jai Ram said there are job offers from Punjab, Rajasthan and Himachal Pardesh. “We are unlikely to encourage sending Kashmir girls outside but most of the boys are willing to move out,” he said.
IL&FS has so far trained 250 and 200 of them are already employed.
Don Basco has trained 192 and 110 of them have jobs. The employers mainly have been smaller enterprises within the state. These include retailer V-Mart – that has started one store in Srinagar and is planning opening three more, Bharti Wallmart, insurer Bajaj Allianz, Bharti AirTel, Uninor, certain data processors like V Tech, a local start-up, and Caf? Coffee Day. “CCD told me that they are running two CCD outlets in Srinagar and would add one more in coming days,” Jairam said.
Honchos of the major local businesses, who attended the interaction along with the trade leaders, remained by and large non-committal to their participation in the programme. Mudasar Mir, who runs the Magpie Hydel Construction Operation Industry Pvt Ltd – the only power project in private sector – was the only investor who sought SEE intervention in the skill up-gradation of the human resource he requires.
“I have one project operational and two at various stages of implementation but we do suffer for want of skilled work force,” Mir told Jai Ram. “Any intervention would be a welcome step.”
After listening to the trainers, the trained and other stockholders, Jai Ram ordered certain fundamental changes in the SEE.
“Regardless of which kind of training you are imparting, we should always train them in the basics of computers,” Jai Ram directed. “Apart from making the process of selections and placement more transparent by posting entire relevant information on a new website, we should hand hold and monitor these boys and girls for three years.”
They will get additional training if required which will be imparted at the block level. To oversee and monitor the scheme, Jai Ram appointed an officer in Srinagar who will supervise J&K Jobs Mission Unit.