OPJCC, a vocational education and rural development CSR initiative of Jindal Steel and Power Limited, was selected for the prestigious, competitive, national award for its case study on Aparajita, an innovative, mobile training programme that aims to change the face of certified, competent construction workers. Construction is among the largest and fastest growing labour sectors in India, currently estimated at 30 million people about half of whom are unskilled women. OPJCC started Aparajita in April 2013 to promote gender equality and dignity of labor, as well as to address the widespread shortages of skilled manpower in construction and other high-growth, high-wage vocational trades. To date, over 400 rural women have earned government-recognised skills certificates and over 70% are earning a living from construction.
“It is our dream to see an India where there is no gender discrimination, where women are given equal opportunities and there is employment for all,” remarked Smt. Shallu Jindal, Co-Chairperson, JSPL Foundation. Through Aparajita, OPJCC takes the college to remote communities via mobile skills training programmes to create awareness of vocational skills and promote employability. Sociocultural constraints and low educational attainment rates often prevent women from leaving their villages to attend classes. OPJCC instructors therefore live for 2-3 months in villages to teach the basics before shifting to the college or construction sites to complete training.
Located in Chhattisgarh, Jharkand, and Odisha, OPJCC is committed to providing access to quality instruction to upgrade skills and prepare women and men to enter the labour market as competent, experienced workers. Aparajita is demonstrating that (a) inclusive development makes a difference in myriad ways in the lives of women and their families, and (b) that there is a willingness in the construction fraternity to accept women at par with their male counterparts as skilled and competent workers.
OPJCC Director, Miriam Carter and HR Manager Shalu Agrawal received the award for the college from Mr. Mukesh Kumar, editor of IndiaCSR and other esteemed dignitaries. The College offers several government-recognised skills development verticals for school drop-outs/leavers, workers, and degree holders, including vocational teachers and assessors in construction, electrical, mechanical, welding and fabrication, and hospitality trades to name a few.