B-Able : providing vocational training , improving lives !

B-Able : providing vocational training , improving lives !

Basix Academy for Building Lifelong Employability Lts. (B-ABLE) is an organisation which works to enable those that have not completed their education. They provide them with soft, commercial and technical skills and empower them in such a way so as to allow them to sustain themselves. They help them gain employment in various sectors and work towards uplifting them in every possible way. Meet Abhishek Gupta, Business Head - Vocational Training, B-ABLE.
Would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
After my PG in 1998, I have worked approximately for 14 years of which first 8 years were in the corporate sector. For the last 6 years, I have been in the social sector. I worked with Indian petrochemicals (IPCL), Reliance and was with Oracle in corporate finance . I wanted to do something that suited my temperament and gave me work satisfaction so I quit my corporate job. Did a small time with a NGO Pratham and then completed my second MBA degree in 2007 at Indian School of Business (ISB). Immediately after graduating from ISB, I joined Hole-In-The- Wall Educational Limited, a joint venture by NIIT and World Bank that works on quality of education in primary schools for rural children. After working for three years with HiWEL, I joined B-ABLE where I am working currently. I like travelling alone and read all kind of books.
What is the vision of B-ABLE?
Our vision is to provide skills to 1 million underprivileged youth in the next ten years.
What are the different sectors in which B-Able provides training?
There are numerous sectors but largely, we provide training in the construction, automobile, rural farm and non-farm, retail, hospitality, and BPO sectors.
Do you have any basic selection criteria to provide training in a particular sector?
Some of the courses have pre qualification criteria – for example if u are doing a carpentry course you need to have numerical skills to measure things. We primarily work for school drop outs so we don’t have a criteria as such but if a trade requires a basic numerical and reading-writing skills we make sure that the youth who enroll in those courses have those skills.
How do you recruit people for training?
Most of our work happens because B-ABLE is a subsidiary of BASIX group of companies which works in 40,000 villages with its microfinance program. So we use the same network to reach out to the unemployed youth in the rural areas and apart from that the government also helps a lot. The government conducts employment exchanges and through various programmes they collect the data of unemployed youth and they provide them to us. We connect with them by holding rural seminars etc. and then enrol the students based on their interests.
Are the training centres present pan India or in few specific cities? Does B-ABLE have a franchise model or does it own all the centres for more uniform training service?
We are present in about 13 states right now – they include Uttarpradesh, Madhyapradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Orissa, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Tripura, Sikkim and Assam. We plan to have centres all across India in the next 2-3 years. As far as franchising goes, at the moment we run the centres ourselves but the plan is to have a business partner model eventually when the industry has the kind of a viability which will allow us to attract a mainstream business partner.
What kind of support is provided post the training?
We are an agency that believes that training is only part of the journey. The real work we want to do is to allow and enable employment. For this, we have a thriving, full-fledged placement team which places at least 70 percent of those who complete their courses.
Do you have any special training program for women?
No, but some courses do attract women more than others such as the tailoring courses, BPO programmes, hospitality courses etc. Industrial skills don’t have many women takers. There are also programmes related to farm skills – green skills – which allow participants to do courses such as agriculture, floriculture, horticulture etc. which attract women.
Approximately what percentage of people being trained at B-ABLE would be women?
Approximately 20 % of the total number of trainees are women. However, the percentage of employees in B-ABLE who are women are about 50 %. Since this is where we have control over what we can do, we actively promote and encourage women candidates. We have flexible programmes such as work from home etc. that we employ to get the best talent possible to work with us. We are continuously on the lookout for talented women who would like to work with us on a flexi-working model. We pay a commensurate compensation for the same.
Tell us about the work from home option that you offer your employees.
We are a social enterprise and hence the compensation that we can pay is limited. Since we work in a challenging environment and we need talent more than anyone else, we have customised our employment options to suit everyone’s needs. We thought the only way possible to bring in the talent and make them agree to moderate salaries was to provide challenging job profiles and to look for those who are indisposed for whatever reason. A major segment of such people is women who are married and wish to have work and personal life balance. So we have been able to get people from all walks of life who were very successful but now want to take a sabbatical from corporate life but want to continue to work at their own pace. It’s a full time job, we don’t engage them on freelance basis. They work 4/8 hours and are employees of the organisation.
Is B-ABLE a For Profit training organization, a registered Not for Profit organization or is it a self sustaining social enterprise?
Its’ a social enterprise which you can say is a hybrid of the two. It’s a sustainable organisation which tries to sustain itself while doing good.
As an individual what is your spiritual belief system?
I am not a spiritual person but I believe in Karma – I believe in doing good and honest work to help improve society and lives in anyway. Beyond that, I am an agnostic.
Do you have a message for our community of readers as to how they can empower themselves better?
All should identify what they are best at. If you find a job that is compatible with what you are good at, success will follow you.

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