BANGALORE: The life of carpenters, masons, bar benders, electricians and others in arduous trades has changed for the better, thanks to an NGO that imparts them skills.
With Bangalore, the high-tech capital of India, attracting unskilled workers from states such as Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, the need for training is being felt more than ever before.
LabourNet Services, which describes itself as ‘a social enterprise organisation’, has stepped in to train thousands of unorganised workers on-site. The NGO has trained 9,000 workers in Bangalore alone in diverse fields such as construction and automotive. Its livelihood centres in Basaveshwara Nagar and Gottigere have trained 2,000 unorganised workers over the last two years.
Tapas Dey (25) from Midnapore district, West Bengal, recently underwent training in shuttering carpentry at a major L&T housing project, the Water’s Edge on Hebbal Road. Hailing from an agricultural family, he had studied only till the eighth standard, and wanted to improve his skills.
"I had learnt some basics from a friend. I started learning the shuttering and scaffolding at the Godrej construction site," Dey told City Express.
The training has helped him become more confident. "Earlier, I was earning only Rs 7,000 a month but now I get Rs 12,000 and help my family in a big way.”
On the same site, Sanjay Singh underwent a training course in bar-bending. Migrating from Sukravali Kalitula, Bhojpur district, Bihar, he has no schooling since his parents were agricultural labourers. "Most youngsters from my village migrate to cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad to work at construction sites. I was working as a helper on a site. Since I had no formal training in bar-bending, I did not get many opportunities. When I got to know about LabourNet through my contractor, my friends and I decided to take the training," he explained.
Today, Sanjay Singh is more confident and can proudly talk about his certification. "I now earn Rs 450 a day and feel so happy," he said.
Learn and earn
Speaking to City Express, LabourNet CEO Gayathri Vasudevan said, "We have trained 10,000 workers in the city in the last nine years. The workforce includes school drop-outs and 10th and 12th pass workers."
LabourNet workers identify unskilled workers and approach the corporate sector for placement and work contracts. "Our method of training is very simple, while learning, they should earn," she said.
Most trainees are poor but not necessarily in the BPL segment. The training lasts two to three months, after which they can either become self-employed through work contracts or join a company.
A majority are men from the construction sector. Women form just 30 per cent of the total trainees, and are mostly housewives who enrol for beauty, hair care and tailoring skills.
Training for women
LabourNet ensures these women earn after training. Nirmala, a teacher imparting beauty skills to a batch of 25 students, says the course is designed in such a way that a student can easily earn Rs 1,500-2,000 a month in the initial stages.
"Our emphasis is more on practical training where they get to do waxing or facials, unlike in government courses which are theoretically oriented. We charge just Rs 1,500, while outside, a similar course could cost Rs 30,000," she said.
Young Nalina, a tailor, wants to add to her income by undergoing training in beauty skills. "I am confident I can earn more after this," she said.
Chandrakala from Vaddarapalya, a mother of four, and her husband, also hopes to supplement the meagre family income. Her husband is a stone-cutter.
Malini from Devenahalli, a PUC pass, is confident she can get earn with the help of the beauty start-up kit provided to her.
In the electrical training programme, final year students of ITI are selected and provided two months' training in domestic house wiring. The response has been good as the manpower requirement in the city is huge, says a manager.
The CEO explains, "We have a tie up with Schneider Electric for training ITI students. Godrej has designed the beauty course curriculum and provides a beauty kit worth `5,000 and a discount card students can use once they set up their businesses."
Gayatri Vasudevan says it was a big challenge initially to train unskilled workers. "More and more people are coming on their own now, and the corporate sector is pitching in too," she said.
What exactly do they do?
LabourNet trains people in carpentry, plumbing, electricals and electronics, manufacturing, retail, leather, rubber, beauty and wellness, and house-keeping services. The NGO has established partnerships with 110 clients, who also certify its training material.
LabourNet Services can be contacted on +91-80-44504450. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: labournet.in
Over the years
Today, LabourNet runs 50 'livelihood centres' and 90 training centres in 11 states. It aims to reach a million workers over the next six years. With a staff of 560, it is in expansion mode. Its highest presence is found in Karnataka and the NCR region. LabourNet has won several awards.