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Volksy to Skill 1 Lakh Blue Collar Workforce by 2020

By GovernanceToday
In Interview
February 17, 2017
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venudhar-reddy‘Volksy Technologies believe in the philosophy of giving back to the Society. It is a privilege to be part of the nation building mission through skilling.   World over, there is shortage of trained housekeeping Specialists, where-in Volksy would step in to fill the gaps and create meaningful employment to the under-privileged within India and abroad’. Gp Capt M Venudhar Reddy, the COO, Volksy Technologies Private Limited, shares more on this …

Who are the beneficiaries of Volksy’s programs?
Any individual between the age of 18 to 36, with educational qualification of Class V and above and performs the tasks of housekeeping, Cooking, Elderly Care and Child care duties in any domestic environment for a fee is a domestic worker.

A domestic worker may work on a full-time or part-time basis and may be employed by a single household or by multiple employers. May reside in the household of the employer (livein) or may live in his or her own residence (live-out).

How does Volksy Technologies respond to the needs of Domestic Workers?

Volksy helps in breaking the conventional image of Domestic Servant to a General Housekeeper and also makes them understand the changing expectations of an employer.  Volksy undertakes training programs of varying durations from 10 Days to 3 Months depending upon the existing skill level of the candidates. During training the candidates are provided a good understanding of the activities one has to perform in a household environment. Instructions  and practice on safety precautions, Dos and Don’ts, Hygiene, professional Cleaning methods and cleaning agents, imparted to help them perform in contemporary homes to the expectations of the employers. They are taught the best practices through videos and on job training.

The candidates are exposed to life skills and basics of English and usage of technology in their day to day lives. They are provided hands on experience on all the equipment and gadgets available in a contemporary home to cope with the technology and expectations of the employer. This exposure helps them gain confidence and perform in all  situations.

How do you contribute towards implementing Domestic Workers’ rights laws or policies?

Domestic Workers Sector is still an informal and unorganised sector in India, hence there is a lack of correct data on the number of existing domestic workers, yet various reports of government and private agencies range this number from 7.5 million to 20 million. This sector is ordinarily dominated by women with greater than 90% of share even as most of them are untrained. The most important job roles protected under this sector are – General Housekeeper, Cook, Ayah (Child Caretaker) and Elderly Caretaker.

To provide the safe and better employment opportunities with improved working conditions, the Government of India is creating a National Policy for Domestic Workers. Considering the importance and growth of this sector nationally and the world over, the Volksy technologies is determined to train I lac workers by 2025. The chairman of Volksy, Murali Bukkapatnam is also one of the founder members of the DWSSC. Volksy technologies runs, a number of training programs in collaboration with the Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council, NSDC, State and Central Governments across the nation to train and certify the domestic workers.

The proposed policies in ‘National Policy for Domestic  Workers’ like working hours,  minimum wages, bonded labour  , paid offs, compulsory paid leave and maternity leave are implemented and followed by Volksy for its employees.

Apart from skilling, is there any effort to provide Domestic Workers other accesses including social security, healthcare, etc.?

Volkksy Technologies makes all out efforts to improve the social security and status of Domestic Workers. Following are a few examples of facilities provided
• Employee accident insurance
• Educational Schemes for  Children
• Skill up gradation of workers
• Funeral Assistance
• Medical Checkups
• ESI & PF etc

Is training enough to make a Domestic Worker a good care Giver?

“Training by itself is not enough.  That said, Getting trained is a great starting point. Due to our emphasis on “On the job training”, our students are better equipped to perform the job better.”

“ Training helps in breaking the  conventional image of a general  Housekeeper and also makes  them understand the changing expectations in a domestic  environment“

role and to meet the expectations of an employer. Training helps in breaking the conventional image of a General Housekeeper and also makes them understand the changing expectations in a domestic environment. The training not only helps in a good understanding of the activities one has to perform in the household environment but also arms the Domestic Workers with better life skills, personal management and behavioural skills, Handling emergencies, handling technology or new generation equipment, etc., which makes them more eligible for a faster career growth and better employment opportunities, even abroad. Training will give the individual edge over untrained and experienced Domestic Workers.

What are some of the unique problems facing undocumented DWs? How does Volksy play unique to attend that?

Domestic workers provide essential services that enable others to work outside their homes. Thus domestic workers help keep labour markets and economies working around the globe. Most, though not all, domestic workers are women. The vast majority are from the poorer sections of society.

Domestic workers work in the homes of others for pay, providing a range of services: they sweep and clean; wash clothes and dishes; shop and cook; care for children, the elderly, and the disabled; they provide gardening, driving, and security services. Some live on the premises of their employer. Others work part time, often for multiple employers.

Women are concentrated in cleaning and care services, while men tend to have the better paying jobs as gardeners, drivers, or security guards. 85% are migrant workers from rural areas who require necessary training and exposure for earning livelihoods. They fall prey to agents and middle men and get exploited.

Volksy in this respect eliminates the middlemen and mobilises these people directly from the rural areas or migration catchments and help them settle and earn a decent living. The Domestic workers are not always covered under labour laws and social protection policies/schemes. Even where they are covered by laws, they may not be covered in practice. Implementation and enforcement is weak or non-existent and the private households or individuals who employ domestic workers may not pay.

Few domestic workers have labour contracts or social protection and women in domestic work tend to be in a worse position than men. Many domestic workers do not know what benefits and protections they should get. Migrant workers face particular challenges leaving them with little legal protection, especially if they are undocumented or have been trafficked.

The major issues and exploitation faced by this group of DWs are

  • The work is often strenuous,  hazardous, and workers rarely have effective recourse to improve substandard conditions. – As an organization we maintain policies and work ethics between employer and employee.
  • Wage rates are low – Volksy providesminimum wages as per authorised working hours.
  • Low pay is a systemic problem in the domestic work industry.  – To ensure higher retention rate the wages are higher than the minimum wages.  Domestic workers rarely receive employment benefits.
    1. Statutory compliance with payroll from their primary employer. Volksy provides after six months of continuous employment.
    2. Workers do not have health insurance.-Volksy provides Regular, Complete health checkup.
    3. Working long hours without breaks. As per policy between volksy and employer – every employer needs to a give break of 30 minutes after every 3 hours).
    4. Decent working conditions, leave, paid holidays, protection against harassment, etc as part of agreement with the employer.

Lack of education, Lack of skills, lack of policies at place, lack of organized data and lack of enough players; with  all these missing links, how  have you aligned technology in the whole skilling aspect of Domestic Workers?

Due to the resistance to getting organized and poor accountability the DW sector has the fewest players in the industry. The lower literacy levels and poor background of the candidates makes the effort all the more challenging. Though the government is formalizing a ‘National Policy for Domestic Workers’ like working hours,  minimum wages, bonded labour, paid leaves, compulsory paid leave
“ Our aim is to be a key organization in  bringing changes in the lives of  under-privileged households  by leveraging technology. The  utilisation of technology starts  from mobilisation  of the candidates through our home  developed app, with two levels of data verification with UIDAI and  mobile number. The training content is digitised to remove  language or any trainer barriers“

 

and maternity leave, it is extremely difficult to implement with every household. The only solution is to leverage technology and bring on board the DWs, formulate a tracking mechanism of monitoring implementation.

Volksy is primarily a technology company. Our aim is to be a key organization in bringing changes in the lives of under-privileged households by leveraging technology.

The utilisation of technology starts from mobilisation of the candidates through our home developed app, with two levels of data verification with UIDAI and mobile number. The training content is digitised to remove language / trainer barriers.

The other technological achievements in the offing are
» Create a platform for  Placement Agencies in India
» Innovative IT based solutions to  track employability of trained youths
» Fully functional Application for Mobilization / Customer side
» Platform / Device friendly application, integrated with Top CRM and Cloud Communication Platform
» Using ‘Moodle’ to build Satellite Classrooms by leveraging Technology, seamless High Quality Training with least effort on Trainers

Have you measured the impact of use of technology in DW sector skilling?

The key skills in  DW Sector skilling is to represent capabilities that have, traditionally, been integrated as ‘normal’ expectations within curricula at operational and management levels, and a specific focus on the development of these skills, without main curriculum delivery objectives, may be questionable in the context of this sector. However, DW’ sector skilling Training continues to report employer demands for improved generic skills as a priority.

The impact of technology may not be directly measurable during DW skilling but translates into effective communication, showing initiative, delivering customer service and demonstrating a willingness to learn due to ease of access.

What are the milestones set by Volksy technologies in this  direction, so far? How do you  wish to see the next few years?

» Skilling of 1 lac blue collared work force by 2020.
» Volksy as “The Skilling Company” pan-India

 

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