British Asian Trust backed Skill Impact Bond shows promising trends for women in India

British Asian Trust backed Skill Impact Bond shows promising trends for women in India

The Skill Impact Bond, a financial innovation pioneered by India’s National Skill Development Corporation NSDC and a consortium of partners, has shown promising trends for young women just 15 months into its journey.

The British Asian Trust backed first-of-its-kind Skill Impact Bond has enrolled close to 18,000 young Indians from 18 states and Union Territories so far. The Bond is aimed at transforming the way skill training programmes are implemented, with a focus on bridging the gap between skilling and employment, especially for women.

Abha Thorat-Shah, Executive Director, Social Finance, British Asian Trust, said: “Since its inception, the Skill India Bond has been deeply committed to achieving impactful employment outcomes, particularly for women in India.

“The strong foundation that we’ve built with our coalition of partners has enabled us to leverage innovative finance to actualise these outcomes, and it’s fantastic to see all our work coming together! We have no doubt that the promising trends we're seeing now will continue to develop in a way that benefits thousands of young, job-seeking Indian women!”

India’s female labour force participation rate has been consistently low at around 30 per cent and research has found that only 10 out of 100 women enrolled in skilling programmes continue to stay in jobs for three months. Recognising this, the NSDC and a coalition of partners launched the four-year Skill Impact Bond in 2021 as India’s first development impact bond to drive an outcomes-based approach to focus on job placement and retention.

Ved Mani Tiwari, CEO, NSDC, said: “India’s youth have big dreams, and even bigger potential – all they need are the right skills and tools to unleash this. With its focus on supporting 50,000 young people, most of them first-time job seekers, the Skill Impact Bond is a financial innovation helping young people build core skills and competencies required to successfully enter and grow within the workforce.

“As an outcomes-based instrument, the impact bond takes an innovative approach to actualising this, and the National Skill Development Corporation is keen to promote good practices and knowledge exchange to catalyse further innovation in the skilling ecosystem.”


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Alongside the NSDC, the coalition draws strength from a set of funders and partners who have deep experience with innovative finance, skilling, gender, monitoring and evaluation, and data-driven decision-making – the British Asian Trust, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), HSBC India, JSW Foundation and Dubai Cares, FCDO (UK Government), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dalberg Advisors, and Oxford Policy Management. The skill training is delivered on-ground by Gram Tarang Employability Training Services Pvt Ltd, Learnet Skills Ltd, Magic Bus India Foundation, PanIIT Alumni Reach For India Foundation, and Tata STRIVE, each partner selected for their capacity to innovate, scale, and reach diverse target groups.

Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary, India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said: “The initiative has been successful as it operates on the principle of outcome-based funding and, I must say that the results achieved till now look encouraging. Also, I am happy to note that so far in the programme 70 per cent of beneficiaries are women.”

Early evidence from the impact bond’s first few cohorts shows that higher retention of women in the workforce could be linked to training partners being able to address deeply entrenched socio-cultural barriers that typically prevent women from seeking and staying in jobs. This has been done by establishing contextualised selection and counselling processes, not just with the candidate but also with parents, and tackling invisible issues such as poor health and nutrition.


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Similarly, the training partners have designed fit-for-purpose delivery methods and curricula, which are aligned to the needs of employers and aspirations of young women. Lastly, post-placement tracking and guidance such as regular check-ins with candidates and migratory assistance are imperative to women feeling comfortable taking jobs, adapting to new environments and challenges and reducing dropouts.

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