While each of these six reform areas are critical and central to bringing more women to the workforce, it was filtered down to three to streamline the impending roundtable. These three – Career Development, Industry Engagement and Parent Engagement – were taken up for problem-solving discussions which led to several important solution strategies, some of which were:
- Orientation during the admission process should be made mandatory
- Infrastructure bottlenecks – working toilets, sanitation facilities etc – should be ironed out, both at the institute level as well as at the workplace
- A proper feedback channel for students, as well as mechanisms for tracking accountability of trainers should be prioritised. Furthermore, skill upgradation for the trainers should be made systematic
- Principals/IMCs ( Institute Management Committees) need to front the mapping of market with the trade skills being conducted in their ITI.
- ITIs should invite organizations that can facilitate more self-employment, communication and critical thinking skills and opportunities. Additionally, they should target brands that are progressive in terms of gender balance, and those that promote careers for girls
- Bringing in companies that provide facilities like bus services, etc are critical.
- Parents and trainers visiting employers together has been found to be an effective strategy to engage employers and ensure placement
- Trade-focused placement is important to ensure better retention after placement. This can only happen through designated placement cells in every ITI
- ITIs need to offer fellowship and internship programs to allow girls the opportunity to understand potential careers and challenges
- Gender sensitization among its students needs to be the responsibility of the ITI and their NGO partners
- IMCs need to engage employers more effectively. One way of doing that will be to inform them about the benefits/incentives accorded by the government for maintaining good gender balance in companies.
- Parents should be engaged at three levels:-
Admission/enrolment stage – Understand the ITI and the course their daughter wants to pursue. Questions around these must be addressed by trainers and principals
Counselling – Parents need to understand and support girls through their new jobs, including being able to talk to them about the challenges they face when it comes to travel, working hours etc
Exposure to industry/employers – Parents can be made to visit potential workplaces too
- Parents and girls need to see role models. To this end, one should bring more ‘champion parents’ and ‘champion students’ together to enable parent exposure to success stories. Engagements like these need to be more regular and year-around versus a one-off activity
In addition to these, the round table put a greater thrust to a dual system of training to ensure women ITI students’ exposure to industry. Flexi-MoUs were also discussed as some important models for increasing placement rates.
Other solutions discussed included employer sensitization and leadership development programs for principals. Quest Alliance – with inputs and insights generated at the round table – will work to consolidate them into a ‘Charter of Recommendations’ for the women ITI ecosystem in India.
The charter – to be released shortly – will be based on a vision for holistic reform, that engages all stakeholders through actionable and bottom-up change in women ITIs. While it may seem like just a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed, the numerous women who are likely to be impacted by it makes it worthwhile.