Training even in the most mundane terms implies an effort to be better at something. It can entail enhancing self-capabilities or helping others increase their competence. But there are skills that once developed and enhanced can help self as well as others. Skill training continues to be a great enabler, promoting inclusivity and empowering those requiring the same.
One such story is of Neelam Sharma, a vocational trainer in the IT-ITES sector, who has a career spanning over seven years, including two years of working with National Skill Development Corporation’s (NSDC) training partner AISECT. Last year, Neelam was posted (by AISECT) to Anandi Lal Podar Deaf and Dumb School, Jaipur to provide vocational training to hearing impaired students. Despite being a highly qualified tech-trainer, she found it difficult to adjust to the new environment. Even basic communication was difficult as she had no prior experience of teaching deaf and mute students. Neelam ended up repeating the same information multiple times as she wasn’t sure if the students were able to retain the concepts. She tried her best to be effective, but at times, failed miserably and ultimately, her patience started caving in.
Addressing the challenge, AISECT and the school administration offered their help and introduced Neelam to novel techniques like graphics and visual mediums to facilitate her connect with her students. Simple methods like hand gestures, demonstrations and role plays proved highly beneficial.
The students couldn’t be happier. 15-year old Jyoti, with hearing and speech impairment since childhood, expresses that her school is “like a home out of home.” An aspiring computer engineer, Jyoti conveys, “Neelam Ma’am has learnt our sign language very fast. Now we communicate with each other better. We all have great fun in the class while we learn computers. I did not know much about computers, but Neelam ma’am teaches us in a very innovative way. I have cleared first level of my training and feel very happy.”
Right skill training has the potential to enhance the learning and Neelam feels more connected to the work than before. She says, “I had taken up teaching profession incidentally. But now it has become an aim of my life. I have deep faith that such projects towards skill development would bring forward a major revolution in the country and empower youth with employable skills.”
Recognising that skill training is the need of the hour, AISECT, country’s leading social enterprise has largely invested in education, skill development, services and e-governance network. Through sustained and innovative ICT and skills-based initiatives, it tries to bring about an inclusive change, especially in the previously untapped regions in the semi-urban and rural areas of the country. To engage with people on a nation-wide level, it partnered with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), and aims to train 1.3 million candidates in the next decade.
It is estimated that 2.68 crores or ~ 2.21% of the Indian population comprises Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). However, studies by the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) determine the disability rate in India to be 4% - 5% of the population. A World Bank Study estimates that excluding people with disability from the economy translates into a foregone GDP of 5% to 7%. Additionally, improving vocational training and employment opportunities for people with disability is a critical element for enhancing the quality of life of PwDs.