UNDP and NSDC partner Justice and Care to host one-of-a-kind inter-ministerial dialogue on skill development

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Justice and Care together with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)recently hosted a one-of-a-kind inter-ministerial dialogue in New Delhi to discuss inclusion of victims of trafficking and the vulnerable in skill development and solutions that promise to combat human trafficking through the vision of SKILL INDIA.

This path-breaking event brought together leading stakeholders from Government ministries such as the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, leading skill agencies, corporates, skill development implementing agencies and NGOs working in the human trafficking space.

To address the issue of skill training, Justice and Care partnered with skill development organisations Don Bosco Tech and Rural Shores Skill Academy to create the Foundation Course, a bridge programme that prepares survivors with little or no formal education for technical domain training under Skill India.Working through hours of counselling and therapy, these girls have now found hope and fulfilment through the skills training they have received.

Sheela* was trafficked at the age of five. She was repeatedly exploited physically and made to work as a domestic servant. She had been living in terrible conditions, until she was rescued and placed in a shelter home for two years at the age of 10. Coupled with the growing frustration of her situation and the brutal trauma she encountered, Sheela began harming herself. It was during her lowest phase that she was introduced to the Foundation Course. “In spite of having absolutely no literacy level, Sheela started attending this course. Life skill lessons came as a ray of hope during tough times for her,” said Chitra Iyer - Director, Aftercare and Employment Creation at Justice and Care.

“This bridge course helped Sheela build self-esteem and gain lost confidence which led to increased learning outcomes. It gave her the courage to turn her life around and this has prepared her for technical domain training”, Iyer explains.During the course, Sheela picked up numeracy well and conversed in English with her trainers. She went on to access skill training programme in beauty and wellness and is currently working at an upscale salon.

Like Sheela, around 100 girls across India have undergone the pilot programme in the model Foundation Course. As a result, some of these are already undergoing skill training with an increased aspiration to be a part of the ecosystem of training and placement, and overall vision of Skill India.

Key outcomes of the dialogue included discussions on creating a framework to bridge gaps that exists within the anti human trafficking space and the skilling ecosystem, expressions of immense interest from employers to provide safe work spaces for workers who are survivors of trafficking, the openness of Sector Skill Councils (SSC) to review the foundation course and look at mapping critical learning outcomes and weave within technical domains, and an expression of interest from the NSDC that is keen on piloting projects of inclusion to understand the scope and scale that’s required for future implementation.

During the event, the UNDP also signed a letter of understanding with Justice and Care to facilitate and conceptualise models for economic rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking.

Inclusive skill development and quality education have the potential to significantly reduce human trafficking numbers, an industry that earns revenues of $150bn annually and is run by organised crime networks internationally.

*Name changed to protect identity.