Mind the Gap: Companies Partner to Build Skilled Labor

Mind the Gap: Companies Partner to Build Skilled Labor

IBM and JPMorgan Chase Employees Help Develop Next Generation Workforce
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Monday, November 9, 2015 - 10:00am

CAMPAIGN: The New Global Citizen

CONTENT: Article

Within five years, The McKinsey Global Institute predicts a global deficit of over 85 million high- and medium-skilled workers and a global surplus of nearly 100 million unskilled workers. In the United States, about two-thirds of companies already find themselves unable to fill positions due to a lack of qualified applicants—the resulting reduction in economic output costs the U.S. economy an estimated $2 trillion per year. In India, where over 12 million young people join the labor force every year, an even more acute skills gap has far reaching socio-economic implications; just two percent of the nearly 500 million-person workforce can be classified as skilled. Although India has world-renowned educational institutions, such as the Indian Institute of Technology, the vast majority of students are ill-prepared for the demands of the modern labor market due to outdated curriculum and a lack of qualified instructors. A 2012 study by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and EY noted that to meet vocational training needs, the country will require 70,000 additional instructors. Currently qualified instructors are entering the market at a rate of only 1,600 per year. The Indian government has an ambitious plan to upskill 500 million people by 2020 through the National Skill Development Mission, but innovative approaches that incorporate the public, private and social sectors will be required to fully address the challenge.

Lend a Hand, a non-profit organization started in 2003, collaborates with organizations working at the grassroots level to replicate proven programs that can improve low income people’s access to education, vocational skills, and career opportunities. The founders recognized that the current secondary school curriculum in India does not equip students with the relevant skills for daily work and life in modern India.  That gap creates a significant challenge to their employability upon graduation. Lend a Hand integrates job and life skills training in existing school curricula to make secondary school education more practical and relevant to the students.

The program takes a hands-on approach to vocational education.  Local trade practitioners train both male and female students across a variety of potential professions. As the organization’s co-founder Raj Gilda notes, “Everybody wants to go to school and everybody wants to get a certificate. So, we set up training workshops as labs within the school itself, bringing in members of the community to train within the school.”

Lend a Hand’s results are truly impressive. In participating schools, more than 95 percent of students attend the training programs. Graduates have three times the rate of self-employment, and over 30 percent more students are pursuing higher technical education than in non-participating schools. Due to its success, the Government of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, has entered into an agreement with the organization to oversee the day-to-day management of a program that will roll-out vocational education to 1,500 schools for more than 200,000 students across the state.

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