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  • Date: Mar 03 2022

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Mar 03 2022

Mainstreaming Skilled Women Construction Workers- Part 2: Pathways to Productive High Skilled Jobs for Women Construction Workers: Successes and Challenges

In 2015, when the Prime Minister launched the Skill India Mission, he announced the vision of making India the ‘resource capital of the world’. The construction industry, which is expected to generate 83 million jobs by 2022, will play a critical role in realizing this vision. A vital question that needs to be addressed at this juncture is whether the 8.2 million women in the construction industry will be a part of this vision—from unskilled job roles will be they be supported in proceeding to productive highly skilled jobs?

The construction industry in India seems to function on a paradigm of ‘far but no farther’, with women’s potential for upward mobility being curtailed by the translation of gender hierarchies into modern wage systems. By choice or by design they are not allowed to acquire the skills that will allow them to progress into jobs roles such as mason, carpenter, electrician, plumber, technician. This gendered skill gap will have detrimental impacts not only in terms of social parity but also in terms of economic productivity since mechanization in the construction industry is set to generate a demand for about 92 lakh additional skilled workers especially in highly skilled job roles such as project managers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc. by 2022.

Realizing that the country’s demographic dividend can very well turn into a demographic disaster, there has been a renewed focus on skill development in policy circles. The institutions set-up for this task include the 15000 ITIs linked to the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, the National Skill Development Corporation, and its sector-specific skills councils amongst others. Women constitute only about 21 % of the trainees in ITIs with their representation in courses related to high demand sectors like construction and real estate remaining negligible. The reach of this formal training infrastructure is a mere 1% and 5% among urban and rural educated. Skill development needs of informal workers who constitute majority of the workforce remains woefully unaddressed. Efforts of a few civil society organizations to skill women in non-traditional livelihoods such as masonry are the rare exceptions to this rule. The experience of these initiatives reveals that even after gaining skills women workers are prevented from accessing skilled jobs owing to the rigidity of gender norms functioning at intersection of state, society and market. Furthermore, the focus on productive and highly skilled job roles remains sparse.

This webinar will discuss the initiatives advanced by various stakeholders including central and state governments, civil society, industry associations and private sector companies towards skill development for women construction workers. It shall capture the best practices, opportunities, challenges and pathways to future action revealed by these initiatives.

1. To what extent has state-led skill training initiatives addressed needs of women workers in the construction industry?

– The existing spectrum of government policies, schemes, and institutions related to skill development

– Gaps in policy formulation and implementation with respect to skill development of women, informal, and migrant workers

– Potential policy innovations that can create impact at scale

2. To what extent has industry-led skill training initiatives addressed needs of women workers in the construction industry?

– Initiatives of industry-led associations and private sector companies to address skill development of the initiatives

– Factors that impede industry stakeholders from investing in skill development

– On-the-job informal training practices and potential pathways to activate access of women workers to these opportunities

– Upcoming trends and skill demand in the construction industry and strategic action areas for mainstreaming skilled women workers

3. To what extent has civil society-led skill training initiatives addressed needs of women workers in the construction industry?

– Initiatives of civil society towards mainstreaming women workers in skilled job roles in the construction industry

– Challenges faced in terms of linking workers to jobs, supporting micro-enterprise development and creating market linkages.

– Replicable models and best practices

4. How can skill development initiatives be effectively linked with market demands to foreground the needs of women workers in the construction industry?

– Open discussion on strategic areas of action and potential collaborations that can address the existing fragmentation between skilling, job placement, and market demand towards mainstreaming skilled women construction workers.