MUMBAI: ICICI Foundation aims to reach the milestone of training 1.2 lakh youth in the year 2018 alone. This will bring the total number of youth trained by ICICI Foundation since inception to over 2.5 lakh. An Interview with Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO, ICICI Bank. Edited Excerpts:
ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth has been doing a lot towards providing skill training. Tell us about your recent initiatives.
In 2017, ICICI Bank along with ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth (ICICI Foundation) launched ICICI Academy for Skills—Rural Initiative. This is a unique programme in the country. It offers vocational training of villagers based on the local needs, provide credit facility and market linkages to villagers to enable their sustainable livelihood. The Rural Initiative of ICICI Foundation has since then been integrated into ICICI Digital Villages, where in addition to the above mentioned activities, a digital platform is also provided for financial and commercial transactions at the village level. So far, we have transformed 100 villages into digital villages.
As part of this programme, we provide vocational training to villagers in locally relevant skills and encourage them to take up self-employment. There is extensive engagement with the local enterprises to facilitate market linkage for the trainees to ensure that their produce/service gets a market. The Bank is facilitating the use of digital channels for transactions. The commercial activities are digitised through a less cash payment ecosystem. The Bank is also providing loans to help villagers earn a sustainable livelihood. The villagers are encouraged to get into joint liability groups/self-help groups; and loans are made available to them depending on need and credit worthiness.
Now, we aim at expanding the number of such villages by another 500 by December 2017. In the process, we will train additional 50,000 individuals and impact 12.5 lakh lives.
In addition, ICICI Foundation operates RSETIs (Rural Self Employment Training Institutes) in the districts of Udaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. It manages 15 satellite centres across these two districts which impart skills in 38 diversified trades.
ICICI Foundation also operates the urban centres of ICICI Academy for Skills to improve the employment prospects of India’s underprivileged yet deserving youth by providing them vocational training. ICICI Academy offers 11 industry-relevant pro bono training courses for a duration of 12 weeks. ICICI Academy has tied up with industry leaders as knowledge partners who ensure that the training, course content, labs and other aspects of the programme are industry relevant. It has also leveraged on the corporate relationships of ICICI Group and has tied with over 1000 industry partners to provide employment opportunities for the trained youth.
What is the objective behind this focus on skill training?
India has a unique advantage in the form of its demographic dividend. As one of the youngest nations in the world, nearly two third of India’s population is in the working age group. In addition, India’s young population is around 100 million which is more than the total population of all the G7 countries combined. It is further estimated that the average age of the population in India by 2020 will be 29 years as against 40 years in the US, 46 years in Europe and 47 years in Japan. However, to reap this demographic dividend, we need to enable the youth to acquire the skills required to get the job or become self-employed. Only then will we see the resulting growth and prosperity for this group and for the country. A large section of our youth, particularly the underprivileged segments of the population have little access to training that can improve their employability. It is estimated that only 4.69% of the total workforce in India has undergone formal skill training. This shows a huge skill gap in India which needs to be addressed.
Keeping this in mind, ICICI Foundation launched the ICICI Academy for Skills in October 2013 to provide vocational training to the youth from the economically weaker sections to enable them earn a sustainable livelihood. Driven by the success of this initiative, ICICI Foundation expanded its reach into the rural areas as well through the ICICI Digital Villages project.
Can you share the details on the number of students trained so far by these initiatives and what is the target aimed till March 2018?
Through the rural initiative project, we have trained more than 18,000 villagers in over 160 villages, including 100 digital villages. Of these 18,000 villagers, 66% are women. The availability of a sustainable livelihood at these villages now discourages individuals from migrating to urban locations in search of jobs.
Additionally, through the RSETIs, we have trained around over 53,000 students till March 31, 2017, including over 15,000 youth in fiscal 2017.
The urban centres of ICICI Academy for Skills have successfully trained over 64,000 youth till March 31, 2017, including over 28,000 youth in fiscal 2017, with 100% placement for all its trained youth.
ICICI Foundation aims to reach the milestone of training 1.2 lakh youth in FY 18 alone. This will bring the total number of youth trained by ICICI Foundation since inception to over 2.5 lakh.
What are the highlights on the training programme offered at the digital villages launched by the bank few months back?
The main objective of the initiative is to develop occupational skills among rural youth based on the demand of the community and the prevailing needs of the product or service in local market. Individuals are trained majorly in Agri-based skills and Technical skills. Agri-based skills include dairy farming, vermicomposting and comprehensive agriculture while technical skills include multiphone servicing & repair and dress designing for women.
So far, we have trained more than 18,000 villagers in over 160 villages. Of these 18,000 trainees, 66% were women.
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