PwC India has announced the launch of a strategic collaboration with UNICEF and YuWaah (Generation Unlimited in India) to help bridge the digital gap and help upskill 300 million young people in India over the next 10 years and enable them to emerge as change-makers in society. Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State (IC), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and Usha Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, were present during the launch. This announcement is part of PwC’s global collaboration with UNICEF in support of Generation Unlimited; a multi-sector partnership aimed at helping 1.8 billion young people transition from school to work by 2030.
At the global level, the collaboration is focused on upskilling millions of young people around the world, including youth who lack opportunities to participate in the digital world. The collaboration in India brings together PwC, UNICEF and YuWaah’s complementary strengths and represents a significant milestone for PwC’s global programme, New world. New skills, which is driven by the need for everyone to upskill so they can thrive in the digital world.
As per UNICEF data highlighted in a recent publication co-authored with PwC, “Stepping forward: Connecting today’s youth to the digital future”, of the 1.2 billion young people in the world today, around 463 million were unable to access remote learning when schools closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, one in six young people have stopped working since the beginning of the outbreak. Young people, especially young women and girls, who do not have reliable access to the internet, technology or devices, and those who lack digital skills and acumen have been hit particularly hard.
Addressing the collaboration, Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India, said, “Our collaboration with PwC was informed by what we could see as a key need – the need to listen to young people and ensure they have access to credible information on their choices to fulfill their aspirations. We believe the need is to co-create these solutions with young people. They not only understand the challenges but also have the creativity and resilience to bring innovative solutions to the fore. The potential of what young people can do, and what we can achieve with them is at the center of this collaboration.”
Speaking of the collaboration, Neel Ratan, Regional Managing Partner, PwC India said, “While at one level, the pandemic has added momentum to India’s digital story, it has also revealed the glaring digital disconnect that India has to navigate at her grassroots for a major share of its population; its young people. Digital enablement of the young people needs a whole-of-society approach – with Government, Enterprises and Citizens coming together with collective wisdom around a shared vision. It requires concerted efforts from each of the stakeholder cohort, to achieve this common objective of making digital accessible, affordable and inclusive for its young people.”
The programme will act as a catalyst by working with a range of stakeholders, both public and private, on a youth engagement platform aimed at creating a wider impact and equitable opportunities for young people through enhanced employability and earnings potential. It will also provide them with pathways to emerge as active changemakers in society.
PwC India will be providing broad support for this programme across three pillars: Economic Opportunities and Employability, 21st Century Skilling and Learning, and Youth Engagement. Instead of focusing on specific sectors, the programme aims to improve young people’s multi-literacy, interpersonal and social skills, among others, which will prepare them to have a more rounded development for a better future.
The emphasis of the programme will be on gradually increasing its coverage across a wider population so that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sections can avail of these opportunities. Dhuwarakha Sriram, Chief of Adolescent Programming and Generation Unlimited (YuWaah) in India said, “Responding to aspirations of young people through partnerships with various stakeholders like Government, private sector, civil society, academia is the core of our mandate. The platform we are working to create with PwC will enable young people to voice their aspirations, challenges and also help them access solutions and information that is critical to them.”
According to the Ministry of Statistics and Program implementation, Government of India estimates, youth constitute around 34 per cent of the total population of India, translating to around 450 million youth.
Speaking about the collaboration, Tanya Elizabeth Ken, youth entrepreneur and a member of the YuWaah Young People’s Action Team said, “Edtech is not about delivering education using technology, it’s about leveraging technology to fight poverty. Tapping into a network of diverse, cross industry stakeholders is essential for bridging inequalities in education and employment. Public sector stakeholders can provide resource support and private stakeholders can provide career guidance and opportunities that marginalised youth would otherwise be excluded from. I look forward to the diversity of resources and opportunities that this collaboration will make accessible to youth around the country.”