For developing skills among women and subsequently providing them employment, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) is looking at unconventional fields. In a recent presentation to the minister, one of the fields identified as having immense employment generation potential for women is construction and allied activities like plumbing, carpentry and electrical works.
The ministry is looking at the option of having industrial training institutes (ITIs) in public-private partnership mode where women can be trained in new generation vocations. Other fields that have been identified are information technology, biotechnology and agriculture. Construction sector is a priority because it is a field which is witnessing a lot of investment and the ministry feels there is a huge demand for trained work force across the country.
“We are seriously looking at providing women work force for allied services associated with construction like plumbing, carpentry and electrical works. It is a huge vacuum waiting to be filled and a huge opportunity. There are no glass walls really. There is nothing to prevent women from venturing into these fields, in fact in foreign countries they do so routinely. We strongly feel that the time has come for this ministry to move beyond the traditional skill developing programmes like pickle making and knitting that we have been running for years,” said a senior official of the WCD Ministry.
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The sectors were identified on the basis of a clear understanding that skill training, to be viable in the long term, has to be market-oriented rather than modelled on the perceived “natural skills” or “limitations” of women. The finer aspects of the programme are still being worked out as also the initial numbers that would be accommodated.
The model in a sense could be one practiced by the Minority Affairs Ministry for its ‘Seekho aur Kamaao’ (Learn & Earn) programme for youth from minority communities. Under the present WCD Ministry scheme for support to training and employment programme for women, NGOs are sanctioned money for running projects like poultry, piggery, food processing, handloom, horticulture, handicraft and fishery. There is scanty monitoring of projects and little stock-taking of how many women actually move on from being part of such projects to starting their own ventures. In the new scheme, the focus will be on imparting skills that have a long term “market value” and therefore can make women part of a skilled work force rather than captive and passive participants in projects.