As the Centre embarks on a massive drive to skill 20 crore people by 2022, one big challenge ahead is to ensure the financial survival of skilled rural youth engaged in jobs in urban areas, as wages and infrastructure are inadequate, says Ajay Chhangani, co-founder and CEO of Rise India, an education and skill development group, which is aiming at a turnover of ₹100 crore in three years via organic and inorganic growth. Edited excerpts from an interaction:
Rise India began operations with education. When did you get into training drivers?
We started training drivers with a partner, Shriram Transport, based out of Chennai, as part of their CSR mandate. We trained about 4,012 drivers in 2015. Our training is done in a large campus — 520 acres. As of now, we have centres in Bihar’s Chhapra, Pune, Nagpur, Nasik,Vijayawada, Bikaner, Sikar and Coimbatore. Currently, we have 10 operational centres. We will be setting up 40 more to take our headcount to 50 by September 30, 2017.
What is your business model and who are your key partners?
Our training is free of cost; we also provide boarding and lodging at times. We get money from the government through the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana under the Skill Development Ministry. And an equal amount comes form our CSR partners, such as Tata Motors, Shriram Transport, Ola and the Rajasthan government. Ola has said it will recruit 1 lakh drivers in the next three years.
How do you select students from rural areas?
We have mobilisation teams that campaign in villages and hold road shows. We give free boarding and training; so on an average, we get 150 students per month per centre, while we get applications in thousands. Our criteria is family income — the students should be needy.
Do you train women, too?
We recently trained 200 women in partnership with RPG Enterprises for driving light motor vehicles in Chennai and Pune. We placed around 50-plus women in Chennai. For safety reasons, quite a few corporates and schools now want female drivers. But it is still difficult to convince women to become drivers.
Isn’t there a gap between skilling and job absorption?
This is 100 per cent true. We are aware of this. But many a times, the mistake is not in placements, but candidate mobilisation. Many village youth do not take up jobs because survival in cities is difficult for them and they run back home. Sustainability is a real problem. They get paid ₹6,000-8,000/month, and have to pay rent and eat, too.
People are ready to do jobs, but jobs are available only in urban areas, and the rural youth are not ready to migrate. And if they do, they find survival difficult. Rural girls, especially, feel unsafe and insecure on their own in towns and cities. Financial survival, too, is difficult as the kind of salaries they get without accommodation is very difficult to sustain.
That’s why we need more working women’s hostels across the country.
We encountered such a problem in Rajasthan while training women in the garment and textiles sector. After learning and getting jobs, they were running away in 5-7 days. We then opened one floor of our centre for them at a nominal cost. The ratio of continuity jumped 60-70 per cent.
What has your experience been with training and up-skilling truck drivers?
Truck drivers constitute 60 per cent of those who we train. These people have a tough life — they are away from family and social life for 30-35 days at a stretch, driving from Delhi to Kanyakumari. We are urging the government to provide residential facilities to them. Some companies, such as Gurgaon-based Rivigo Logistics, now have hostels for truck drivers. This has a cost, but one can charge customers.
Which other areas are you focussing on?
We also do a part of education skilling. In July, we acquired PadhoPadhao.com, an aggregator of home tutors, currently operating in the National Capital Region. It has 48,000 registered tutors (retired teachers and fresh graduates), and is as good as Ola and Uber.
This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.