Women leaders, change makers and facilitators in skill space in India – Part 1

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Dr. Suchitra Choudhary, Head – Business Development & Advocacy, Skill Council for persons with disability

Suchitra_Chowdhary_SCPWDI believe, the growth prospects of any economy depend to a large extent on, how the country tackles certain issues of intellectual capital and the important underlying issue here is – how well a Person with Disability (PwD) is integrated into the social system to be a significant part of this

intellectual capital. When it comes to Women with Disability, it becomes an added ‘burden’, as per the patriarchal mindsets. Firstly – she is a ‘woman’, and secondly – ‘disabled’ ! Making herself acceptable in the society itself becomes a huge challenge. However, talking of the positives, the Govt. of India, as a result of constant advocacy has duly considered the needs of the PwD and the recently passed Rights of Persons with Disability 2016 is a livid example, which specifically mentions about the rights of women with disability. This women’s day, let us all pledge to make sincere efforts for breaking all cognitive barriers !

Just imagine about the entire productive life of a PwD (especially in working age group) going unutilized because of the life having posed certain challenges, in the form of a disability. How fair is it – if we judge a PwD on the basis of the disability and not on the individual’s innate abilities, or the potential to be able to lead a life of dignity and to be able to contribute to the growing economy of our nation. The nation’s future can be altered, if every one of us in the society, act responsibly towards making sincere efforts in mainstreaming them and more importantly, providing them meaningful opportunities, as a ‘potential human resource’. The hard fact is – anyone of us can become disabled tomorrow, who knows? Therefore, a sense of self-realization and empathy needs to prevail in order to create a sensible society. It is utmost important to consider inclusion of PwD talent pool by bridging the skill gaps in line with the industry requirements. However, this should not be taken as a CSR initiative, rather ought to be a mandate in the HR policy.

To a large extent, industry is the victim as well as the culprit, when it comes to scarcity of skilled PwD workforce. The major challenge is skilling enough PwD pool to bridge this demand-supply gap. On one hand, the Indian industry is struggling to maintain growth and sustainable profitability, while on the other hand, the stakeholders in the PwD skilling domain are trying to create a dependable talent pool across different sectors to be absorbed by industries. Considering this, if  the India Inc. start hiring skilled PwD proactively, the nation’s GDP can be increased multi-folds, as it makes a strong business sense. Having a diversified and inclusive workforce bring with itself a number of advantages, which needs no elaboration corroborating with the various proven case studies.

Given the current macro-economic challenges, the stakeholders in the skilling domain need to delve deeper into the skilling initiatives of PwD, to assess; whether the efforts made by them are in agreement with the underlying objectives, predominantly aimed at mainstreaming them. The support of industries at large, is majorly required to gear towards achieving these objectives for calling it a ‘successful’ initiative. Diversity & inclusion ought to be the focus areas in order to attain long term sustainable growth. The companies can be benefitted in various ways by owning the ‘Skill India’ initiative and partnering with ‘Skill Council for Persons with Disability’

(SCPwD), specifically constituted to create skill ecosystem for PwD, to enable them through industry relevant skill training for availing employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The government has taken some significant steps towards making PwD employable, plugging the looming skills deficit. However, leveraging the demographic dividend and creating a pool of skilled workforce cannot be the government’s responsibility solely; India Inc. too necessarily need to come to the forefront, partner with the government to build competency standards and qualifications, and give priority to hiring the PwD workforce, who have undergone skill training as per the National Standard Qualification Framework (NSQF).

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