“I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. After a difficult childhood, I got married at the age of 18 with a 23-year-old man. Due to ill-treatment at my in-law’s house, I was forced to leave and go back to my native village to earn my bread with dignity. I almost lost all hope in life.
At that time, I heard about Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY) courses that were being run by Anand Skill Training Centre (ASTC) Kirari Suleman Nagar. I took admission in the Child Caretaker job role. I got both theory and practical classes including OJT (On Job Training) for 240 hours. After the successful completion of my course, I gained the confidence I had lost after my unsuccessful married life. The course has improved my communication and life skills. My leadership qualities were appreciated by the ASTC team and I got the offer to mobilize trainees for the Anand Skill Training Centre. Finally, I got reason to enjoy life working with ASTC as a community mobilizer. It has also changed the economic condition of my family and now I am also an earning hand. I would like to thank PMKVY and ASTC for giving me a beautiful opportunity.
Today, I am not a woman peeping from shadows. I am Mohseena.”
Millions like Mohseena are finding new hopes in life, thanks to a well-organized initiative of a Sector Skill Council registered as a not-for-profit organization – Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council or DWSSC. Set up in 2015 under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and the National Skill Development Corporation, DWSSC India looks to skill one of India’s largest groups of unorganized workers, domestic workers – one of the most vital parts of the millennial growth engine.
DWSSC identifies and organises key sectors where domestic workers can find employment. It addresses the skill gap problem and develops training curricula based on industry demands and expectations. The objectives of this organization are:
- Establishing a nation-wide institutional network for development of skills and efficiency among the domestic workers in India.
- Improving linkages between the client and the agent party with reliable promises for quality service and fair payment.
- To develop a Labour Market Information System (LMIS); this would keep an archival collection of the profiles of domestic workers in India, to narrow down complications. It would also keep track of the market demand and the list of organizations working in the sector.
- To define job roles and set occupation standards, career progression maps and functional maps for all job roles in the domestic workers’ sector
- To build institutional capacities and promote institutions servicing the sector to deliver skills training and recognition services for domestic workers.
- To help in the making of a secure and healthy work atmosphere for the domestic workers.
According to the NSSO data on employment and unemployment, the number of domestic workers in urban areas seem to have increased by 68% in the decade between 1999-2000 and 2009-2010.
When the statistics are such and the livelihood of so many people depends on working as domestic helps, this sector cannot be ignored. The notion that domestic help is an easy job that doesn’t require any skill set is flawed and needs to change. The majority of people who work as domestic help are women. While common perception might make one thing that men working in offices is a respectable job, while women engaged in domestic work isn’t – they fail to acknowledge that managing a household requires multiple skills. Since time immemorial, women’s household work has been looked down upon while men are seen as ‘breadwinners’ of the family. Today, there are no gender roles as both men and women work in offices and as domestic help; and both the jobs require skills. Working as a babysitter is not an extension of a woman’s maternal skills, it is a job that demands a certain ability and experience. The number of opportunities in the field of domestic work makes skills an important factor more than ever before.
How DWSSC Is Helping Domestic Workers
DWSSC strives to restore the dignity of these invaluable workers with solid efficacy and support. DWSSC has played a pivotal role in the framing of the National Policy on Domestic Workers and Jharkhand Private Placement Agencies Act.
It has redefined job roles and assigned the needed designations to different domestic works:
- General Housekeeper,
- Housekeeper cum Cook
- Child Caretaker
- Elderly Caretaker (Non-Clinical)
- General Executive (Institutional/House)
- Caregiver of Kids with Special Ability
- Caregiver of Mother and Newborn,
- Baby Caregiver
- Home Cook
DWSSC believes, and continues to propagate the idea that domestic work is real work and not a mere articulation of a woman’s natural instinct. With a healthy amalgamation of technical and traversal skills, the Qualifications Registration Committee of NSDC, mapping the needs and aspirations of the employers and workers has vetted the training modules.
The training programmes focus on hygiene, general housekeeping norms, usage of modern household appliances in a safe manner, etc. The other educative measures are giving classes on handling the emotional labour (mostly for the caregiver jobs, customized for each category), a basic level of academic knowledge, even touching up on the POCSO Act, 2012 (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) acts for rightly dealing with children. The effort aims to make the job area aspirational instead of being a last resort, which also taps on the entrepreneurship possibilities. The Occupational Map that they have created seeks to outline the career progression of domestic workers not only vertically but also laterally and diagonally.
DWSSC has trained, assessed and certified close to 10,000 people across the nation under the Recognition of Prior Learning and Short Term Training Programme. The empanelled Training Partners have a robust mobilization team which goes to the communities and spreads the word about DWSSC and the courses that they offer. NGOs and even ILO has come forward to aid them as advocacy partners. The organisation is also initiating discussions with Trade Unions and Labour Unions to associate with them and support the Skill India Mission.
“They Changed My Life”
First hand accounts, like story of Mohseena, clearly point out the positive effect DWSSC has had on their lives. Subhagmati, a young woman migrated from Gorakhpur, UP who has been staying in Karan Vihar for the last 10 years. She has another story to tell.
Subhagmati was not much educated and was reluctant to come out of her house and talk to people. PMKVY came as a boon to her and she got enrolled in DWSSC’s housekeeper cum cook course. After attending a two and a half months course she had a substantive change in her outlook towards life. She recollects with confidence, “Mere ander yahan aakar uthne, baithne aur bolne me bahut farak aaya, Ab mein sab sae ache sae bat kar sakti hu ghar aur bahar dono me”. She is now working as domestic helper in Paschim Vihar and earning Rs. 8000/- per month and living happily.
Apart from the immediate objectives, the organization cherishes long-run goals, planning up to 2026. Along with the PM’s vision of training 2.5 million by then, the goals are statistically summarized as:
➢ No. of Trades for which Training of Trainers to be conducted – 20
➢ No. of Training Organizations to be accredited – 525
➢ No. of Trainers to be trained – 1050
➢ No. of Persons to be certified – 25,56,600
The Logical Indian Take
The DWSSC has the noble aim of supporting the poor, disorganized and often exploited mass of the workforce in a life-changing manner.
Most of us in our urban chambers do not realize the importance of domestic workers in our lives. Those of us working in offices, do the work we specialize at. However, the work of a domestic help is manifold and requires immense people skills. They do not work in the comfort of air conditioners and cozy armchairs but carry out tasks that require both physical and mental ability.
We don’t realise how different and difficult our lives would’ve been if there wasn’t someone to clean the house, do the dishes, cook the food, take care of the children, drop them at school, etc. The sole reason we can work at jobs we want and take vacations we desire is because there is someone at home doing all the chores and taking care of the house. Can you imagine what it would be like to come home after a day’s work to a messy house or not find healthy cooked food? The comfort of our homes plays a crucial role for our mental peace. We can take out time for ourselves because there are people who cut the same time out of their lives to give us a better living. It is time we start a discourse around this subject and spread awareness about the importance of domestic work.
DWSSC is doing tremendous work in this regard – not only is the organisation training the workers but educating people about their roles in daily lives. It is a need of the hour to make the existence and effectiveness of this organization a common knowledge so that more and more people find the way to an efficient service sector and respect its work.