It is clear that unemployment is a rising issue across different parts of the world. The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) ‘Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013’ report highlighted the same, particularly emphasizing on ‘Skills Mismatch’[i]. Skills Mismatch is born out of either or both of the two situations – skill gaps and skill shortages. The report also pointed out that in developing countries such as India, ‘as much as two-thirds of the young workers receive below average wages and are engaged in work for which they are either over-qualified or under-qualified’[ii]. According to a Labour Ministry report, the unemployment rates for graduates in rural areas was an alarming 36.6%, possibly, an example of the skill mismatch highlighted by the ILO[iii]. This definitely calls for action from India – the country with the highest youth population in the world.
About the Enterprise
Edubridge, a Mumbai-based social enterprise was started by a group of IIM alumni and professors in October 2009 with the vision of fulfilling the skill gap that exists currently between the skills possessed by youth in semi-urban and rural areas and the skills required by the corporates. EduBridge thus seeks to be the link between the corporate and the rural/semi-urban unemployed youth. Its unique proposition is to closely work with industry partners and design customised solution as per their requirements. The module is such that it is a perfect blend of practically relevant and, theoretical knowledge.
Edubridge uses a two pronged approach: the first stage when the training is provided and the skills are imparted and the second stage when the social enterprise goes one step ahead and helps in placing these trained individuals by connecting them to the right type of corporate employer. Currently, EduBridge has its presence in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh with plans of expanding across India in the next 12 months.
About the Partnership
Corporate Executive Board or CEB is one of the world’s leading member-based advisory companies unlocking the potential of organizations and leaders by advancing the science and practice of management. CEB India partnered with Edubridge in order to impart vocational training and life skills to local unemployed youth.
Edubridge executed this program by also collaborating with 5 NGOs that had also worked closely with the company. All the NGOs were asked to nominate a total of 30 people who would benefit from this program. Each NGO researched, mobilized and identified the unemployed youth in the local areas. A counselling session was held before the training session where the preferences and job interests of the 30 candidates were discovered. These sessions also helped identify the shortage of skills among the local youths. Out of these, about 20 were shortlisted for the training sessions. Consequently, the program consisting of 150 hours of life skills and retails skills began with a batch of 13 candidates. As part of this course, the beneficiaries were taught about effective sale methods, particularly through improved professional skills. They were also equipped with essential customer service skills. As a result of the two-pronged approach, the beneficiaries are also being provided with placements. In the current partnership, about half of them have already been placed as well.
The partnership between the corporate and the social enterprise was a symbiotic one with each reaping benefits from the efforts of the other. While the social enterprise designed the module and imparted the training; the corporate provided the infrastructural assistance and bore all the expenses for the training. No exclusive or specific team handled CSR at the corporate’s end. A couple of highly driven managers who usually engaged themselves in socially responsible activities for the company volunteered to spearhead the program. These volunteers spent 4 hours every weekend to train the beneficiaries as well. They also helped in screening the candidates on the basis of the criteria set by Edubridge. These volunteers also conducted mock interviews in order to ensure that the beneficiaries were ready before the placements.
Benefits for the Social Enterprise
CEB has a wide experience with top companies for the past 30 years. They equip more than 16,000 senior leaders from more than 6,000 organizations across 60 countries every year with the insights and actionable solutions needed to respond to quickly evolving business conditions. With such a rich and varied experience, it was a wonderful opportunity for Edubridge to partner with them. This provided great visibility to the social enterprise.
Partnering with a corporate gave the social enterprise the creative bend to the standard program outlay of Edubridge. The corporate came up with a couple of ideas to improve the effectiveness of the program and make it more interesting. For e.g. the beneficiaries were given “on-the-job” salesmen training at certain melas where the products of the partner NGOs were put up for sale. This was their medium of imparting retail skills.. A number of games and activities were also ideated and implemented by the corporate employees. The idea of spending 4 hours every weekend was also a volunteering initiative from the employees themselves.
Benefits for the Corporate
The major value addition from this partnership was an effective and efficient CSR program which provided livelihood opportunities to unemployed youth from the local communities. Along with ensuring that the CSR budget was spent effectively, it also reaped quantitative and qualitative benefits in terms of providing employable skills among the youths.
Building an Image
The CSR program helped in building trust among the local community. This increased the reputation of the company among the youths who were employed. It also worked as a great branding strategy which might help the business to prosper in future.
Disincentives rather than incentives
The fees for the training programs were completely borne by the company and not by the students themselves. Therefore, even though there was active participation in the classroom, some students lacked a certain sense of seriousness and motivation to perform better. Thus a minimal amount of charge levied would have helped the students have a stake in the training program.
Edubridge is based in Mumbai and the corporate partner is located in Gurgaon. This acted as a deterrent as the social enterprise could not understand the demands and requirements of the students..
With the changing definition of CSR and its evolving landscape, a one-time funding or donation has become a thing of the past. To stand out as a unique partnership, one needs to go beyond the scope of ‘mere charity’ to non-monetary contributions. Thus, what proved to be the catalyst for a partnership of this sort were the unique ideas, concepts and volunteering hours from the corporate partner to the social enterprise which led to the birth of an exemplary story.
[i] ILO. (2013). Global Employment Trends for the Youth 2013: A generation at risk. International Labour Organization. Geneva [online] Available at : <http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_212423.pdf>
[ii] The Hindu Business Line. (2013). 73 million youth will be unemployed by 2013: ILO. The Hindu Business Line. May 9th 2013 [online] Available at : <http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/73-m-youth-will-be-unemployed-by-2013-ilo/article4699463.ece>
[iii] The Financial Express. (2013).Unemployment in India: 13.3% of youth jobless, says Labour Ministry. The Financial Express. 1st December 2013. New Delhi [online] Available at : <http://www.financialexpress.com/news/unemployment-in-india-13.3-pct-of-youth-jobless-says-labour-ministry/1201838>