CSR Activities and Skill Development in India (2023)

Why Skill Development?

No small talk. Let’s get straight into the topic!Skill Development of the Indian Youth and the role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes of businesses in giving it the necessary life.

The employment rate in India, where over 12 million individuals join the labour market each year is currently battling to increase. Unsurprisingly, the urban poor had the worst time recovering from pandemic-related hardships.

The development of skills is an essential tool for empowering today’s youngsters and securing their future but a sizable majority of young Indians lack vocational education– next to essential for securing a good job.

The education system in India is making efforts to adequately adapt itself to the demands of the labour market, so that the youth don’t have to struggle to find employment opportunities. As of now, not a big portion of students—educated or not—have the necessary work skills. To close the gap, skill growth might be quite useful in this situation.

Developing Skills for Socio-economic Growth: The Role of CSR Activities

The activities and engagement of the younger generation are emphasised in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were introduced by the United Nations in 2016 with the aim of advancing the global development agenda through 2030 and beyond. Consider India, where more than 62% of the population is of working age and more than 54% of the population is under the age of 25.

This might be viewed as a problem, an opening, or a demographic benefit. A competent workforce is crucial for the general socioeconomic growth of the nation, thus vocational education should be provided to the workforce in order to turn this difficulty into an opportunity.

Government schools and other institutions geared toward students from lower-income households need more resources to adequately prepare graduates for life after school due to infrastructure that is frequently antiquated, a lack of teaching-learning resources and a shortage of teachers.

This is where businesses, through CSR, may work with the government to create an atmosphere where kids can learn by introducing educational materials, scholarships, mentorships, vocational aid. These interventions will significantly strengthen the groundwork needed for students to be successful in the workforce.

Initiatives Undertaken by the Government of India

The Indian government has taken a number of steps to encourage skill development, such as Skill India, also known as the National Skills Development Mission of India, which was introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2015 and aimed to train over 30 crore people in India in various skills by the year 2022. The government has taught nearly 10 million young people under its flagship Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) programme.

The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Skills Development

Given the enormous job of reaching the livelihood goal and preserving the mission’s quality and sustainability, both private and public sector businesses have enough opportunities to participate and influence through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

Investment by industries in worker skill development creates a compelling business case since it is clear that they play a critical role in driving the long-term economic growth of the nation.

By fostering a competitive and skilled labour market and advancing industries’ social responsibility goals, this investment benefits all parties. Additionally, from an ethical standpoint, it is required of enterprises that they build the capacity of human resources in a sustainable manner.

In addition, the business sector has a variety of tools and great ability to impact the ecosystem of skill development. The efforts of skill development can be doubled up by the resources, infrastructure, equipment and knowledge that businesses have. They have seasoned workers whose expertise and understanding are very crucial for this purpose.

Why should Corporates lead the Vocational Education of the Indian Youth?

The industries are most suited to transmit information and skills to the next generation of workers. Furthermore, who is better able to comprehend the skills gap and the requirement for a certain skill-set for the industrial sector than the companies?

They (companies) are aware of shifting market demands. They are one of the first to spot any emerging or rapidly expanding industry with the potential to create jobs. Their aptitude for creativity contributes to the expansion of the skilling sphere and the addition of new paths to the list of skill growth areas.

By participating in programmes that promote skill development, the corporate sector may gain a number of strategic advantages. The CSR agendas of companies are effectively accomplished when their efforts to enhance the skills of at-risk youngsters reach out to them and have a positive, long-lasting influence on the communities.

The Market in India

The availability of competent labour makes it simple for businesses to boost production and efficiency while lowering operating costs. Young people may be retrained and upskilled to help businesses prepare for the future.

The corporate sector has a great opportunity to participate in and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Leading organisations and specialists in sustainable development therefore pursue businesses to contribute to the achievement of these global objectives. In this sustainable strategy, skill development is accorded the appropriate emphasis.

Skill development is listed in Schedule VII, which outlines the components of a company’s CSR programme that must comply with Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013’s statutory CSR requirements. Additionally, several of the other required tasks included in this Schedule have a direct or indirect relationship to skilling. It should be noted that a significant number of businesses have recently given skill development top priority as part of their CSR strategy.

How the Corporate Sector can Help Through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

The goal of skill development should be given CSR capital to make it more strategic and meaningful. To support the skilling effort, corporate organisations with CSR agendas should be open to working with the government, academic institutions, NGOs, and training providers.

  • Corporate entities involved in CSR efforts should do a baseline study of the socioeconomic landscape of the areas in which they operate. It must include an understanding of the talent profiles of the areas in terms of supply and demand. This makes it possible to pinpoint any skill gaps that exist and create programmes for their filling.
  • By providing training according to their needs, large corporations may help start-up personnel reach their full potential. An increasing number of startups in India are seen as catalysts for both social and economic advancement.
  • Companies must update the skills of the workers involved in their supply chain. Without a doubt, the principal business benefits from this in terms of productivity and service quality.
  • Employers should make advantage of their capacity to identify future-oriented skill sets. Such new sectors can be found by evaluating both potential, such as technological advancements and difficulties, such as climate change, the water issue, the energy crisis, etc.

What More Can Be Done?

  • On one hand, Corporate organisations should take the lead in teaching these modern skills to job-seekers, start-up business owners and seasoned workers alike.
  • On the other hand, it’s important to resurrect outdated and conventional skill sets. Rural artisans suffering from poverty should get financial assistance, training in value-added production and market connections through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.
  • Companies may establish Centers of Excellence (CoE) in the fields in which they excel. The CoE needs to serve as a training facility for trainers who would undergo ToT programmes. They should urge their own staff to serve as subject matter experts.
  • Companies can develop new facilities and upgrade existing ones for young people in rural and suburban regions to get training and capacity building via the use of CSR funds.
  • New types and degrees of skills are required by technological development and knowledge-based economies. Companies may work with academic institutions, research organisations, and governmental agencies to develop specialised programs for these skill areas.
  • To promote successful training and skill transfer to the following generations, industry experts should share their knowledge, skills, and experience via organisational platforms such Industrial Training Institutes, Vocational Training Centers etc.
  • Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) account for more than two-thirds of all occupations, yet their employees virtually ever get the chance to advance their skill sets. Big businesses can assume the duty of raising the skill level of this sizable group of employees so that they can work more effectively.

Major Takeaways Related Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

In order to reduce the “skill divide”, the corporate sector may play a significant role in fostering more inclusive skill development initiatives. The importance of providing chances for persons with disabilities (PwDs) should be emphasised in addition to enhancing accessibility for women and other underrepresented groups.

It is widely acknowledged that skill development plays a greater role in nation-building as a CSR activity. Corporates in India need to take advantage of skilling given the discrepancy between current and desired skill levels.

Given the existence of a sizable pool of youthful talent, India has the potential to become the world’s skill capital; nevertheless, this talent must be translated into means of creating a prosperous economy of the nation. Long-term results from continued efforts in the field of CSR skilling would eventually shift the game for society and the nation.

Smile Foundation and CSR Activities: A Natural Alignment

Smile Foundation realises how a big size of youthful population can be turned into the biggest asset of the nation if enough resources are directed and thoughtfully utilised towards the vocational education of the Indian youth, especially those belonging to the marginalised sections of the society.

Through its STeP or the Smile Twin e-Learning initiative, it wants to skill the youth dynamically and is hoping for long-term CSR collaborations to greatly expand the scope of its livelihood work. Learn more here!

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