Need to Bridge Skill-Gaps for Rural Income Generation Activities

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The rural area around Nagpur where HERD Foundation works needs to be developed to rejuvenate its dwindling economy. Much needs to be undertaken for poverty alleviation and creation of suitable livelihood options. Comprising of tribal populations subsisting primarily on agriculture it has never appeared more important than now to create avenues for income generation. Aside from agriculture the region remains sadly bereft of any traditional skills or rural enterprises that may augment living conditions.

HERD Foundation is exploring approaches to generate fresh perspectives through people’s participation in planning their resurgence. Our initial steps in these directions have led us to probe a variety of opportune ideas. However for lack of any traditional expertise that usually offers a way out, we are left high and dry with this aboriginal population who are largely forest dwelling inhabitants. Having given up their nomadic existence both men and a segment of women simply carry on by tilling the land to make ends meet.

HERD Foundation is of the view that we need to create pathways for appropriating skills that could offer a way out. But bridging the skill deficiency gap is a huge challenge. The majority of house bound women although interested in investing their time for income generating activities remain confounded by the lack of opportunities. Many of these women are members of self-help groups but their activities are restricted to pooling bits of their money for sharing small loans to tide over economic adversity.

They have never ever attempted at using their funds for productive purposes. However with limited access to opportunities for skill building it appears an uphill task to offer them access to sustainable livelihoods. One of the reasons for this is lack of access to any sort of skill training. Relying largely on agriculture and farm based livelihood opportunities, a greater majority remain unemployed. This unskilled or untrained mass of women can be taught to imbibe certain skills for prospective enterprises.

HERD Foundation looks at these gaps in abilities as an opportunity to set up training programs in appropriate skills that may help them set up suitable ventures. Through purposeful examination we intend to establish fitting vocational training that could lead to sustainable forms of employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship. However we are well aware that any skill building program would have to be a long term project to make it viable and workable.

This then means that skill building trainings would have to be targeted towards turning rural unskilled women to be befittingly trained to be work-ready and employable. By the end of such trainings they ought to be effectively ready to be linked with self-employment opportunities. Through these skills building programs interested women could take on enterprises that have the possibility of fruition. One can even think of adopting an ‘Employer-Payer’ model in which an external entrepreneur supports training-needs by mobilizing and training the women who later become ready to be absorbed in any given enterprise.

However the most important factor here would be the interest and proficiency of the rural women in becoming an intrinsic part of the efforts. They need to be made aware of the importance of their skills, outlook, attitude and focus for continued improvement and development. HERD Foundation is looking ahead to take on tasks for appropriate skill-building and livelihood creation for employability and entrepreneurship through interventions and partnerships with government and corporate agencies who share similar futuristic plans.

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