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Guest Speaker address at Annual Friends' Reception, London: Award Friends and Supporters see impact of their investments and contrubutions

Today I am excited to give you a glimpse into the fast-evolving Indian society, the challenges young people in India face and how The International Award for Young People is working through dynamic partnerships in India Coto address the challenges and engage young Indians from 14 to 25 years of age.

Many of us already know that nearly 30% of the world’s population is between the ages of 10 and 25. In India, 315 million people i.e. almost 42% of India’s population are in that age category.

In the last four decades, India’s youth population has increased three folds and become the 9th largest economy in the world.  At the same time its major industry has moved from agricultural to telecommunications, information technology enabled services and pharmaceuticals all of which demand a highly skilled workforce.

Despite this astronomical growth there are 9.5 million unemployed youth (that’s larger than the total population of London)

The youth unemployed make up almost half (49%) of the total unemployed population and yet share just 21% of the total adult workers workforce.

It would be natural to presume that this is a problem of too many young people and not enough jobs, but this is in fact not the case. The Indian economy is generating approximately seven million employment and self-employment opportunities per annum.

Young people in India today are in this unfortunate situation due to a lack of optimum skills training opportunities. A result of a skills mismatch, young Indians do not have the life skills to adapt to this ever-changing economy – formal education is not reacting quickly enough to the changing demands of business and industry.

We are talking about a large number of high energy, extremely driven young people looking for the life skills they need to succeed.

This is where The Award fits in perfectly. By focusing on the holistic development of young people, social inclusion, experiential learning, skill development and gender equity; As an ‘available to all’, ‘non-political’ programme, in which ALL young Indians including those at risk, marginalized, excluded or disabled can participate.

The Award ensures it reaches all facets of Indian society in a variety of ways, through schools, universities, partnerships with key institutions and companies, Open Award Centres and International Special projects that specifically target at risk groups.

In the last two years, thanks to the fresh investments and partnerships with businesses like Bharti Enterprises, HSBC India, Tata Consultancy Services and MAX India, nearly 2000 lives of disadvantaged young people in Special Projects have been positively transformed. The Award has a completion rate as high as 80% in the Special Projects’ and the support has allowed us equip young people from all walks of life.

Radha- a Gold Award Holder from Special Project in Vellore, South India believes that ‘The Award gave me the confidence to stand up against early marriage of girls, focus on my studies, and gain skills I will use my entire life. Most importantly, today I can be a leader in my community and help other girls to take a stand against child marriage, girls’ education and more.’

The support of our biggest corporate JCB India has enabled IAYP to reach even more young people like Radha.

By financially supporting the team of 3 professionals at the National Office for a period of 3 years as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility JCB India has exemplified that CSR can happen in any way and their support has really helped Award in India to gain a foothold in its nascent evolving stage.

The IAYP has developed Open Awards Centre that allow young people in schools who are not licensed operators to get access to the Award. Since 2010, 3500 young people have participated in The Award Programme and this number is growing by leaps and bounds.

A partnership with University of Delhi, India’s premier university has allowed over 100 young students, who may have missed the opportunity when they were at school, to engage in The Award for the first time.  Today, there are about 250 students from 21 independent colleges participating in The Award Programme.

But this wasn’t enough – we also knew we had to partner with the corporate sector operationally, taking the Award literally ‘into business’.  After all the future of their business and their country is based on the development of a skilled youth workforce.

In January 2010, 100 young employees from HSBC India enrolled in the Award Programme. A part of HSBC’s Service Delivery and Talent Development Initiative, the Award engaged young employees for the very first time! An innovation of its kind, the Pilot Project has successfully equipped 78 Award Participants and HSBC India employees so far by developing essential skills for the workplace such as confidence, improved communication, leadership, resilience and team working.

With 100% Bronze Level completions, 90% Silver Award Completions and 82% Gold Level completions; with some still on the way, it is safe to say that the young people are enjoying the programme.  We can call the Pilot Project an inspiring success. With agreement from HSBC for a further 500 other employees to participate in the Award from February 2011, it is safe to say the business are seeing the benefits.

The Award in HSBC Pilot met business needs through its flexibility to be integrated within existing training and development programmes including apprenticeships, graduate or other schemes. In addition, the Corporate Responsibility agendas within HSBC have better delivery and success rates due to the Service component of The Award. The Award has promoted volunteering, involvement in the community, a better understanding of the environment, a healthier and fitter and more energized workforce. Some Award participants in HSBC have moved on to find their own passions, hobbies and volunteer goals.

If this is the difference the Award in India can make with 4 corporate partners imagine what it can do with 8 or 16?  If this is how corporate support is making an IMPACT in India imagine what it can do worldwide.

Youth unemployment worldwide is 38%, one in 3, imagine if this was your 3rd child or your 3rd grandchild. .  Young people are being deprived of a future and with your help the Award can bridge this gap. …..

The Award would not grow to be the positive empowerment and transformation tool without your friendships and support with us worldwide.

To conclude, I would like to thank HRH The Earl of Wessex, the Trustees at the International Foundation, the Trustees in India, and the entire team at the International Award Association and in India. Finally, I truly appreciate your time and attention in listening to me. I look forward to meeting some of you personally during the course of this evening. Thank you!

- The content of this document belongs to IAYP India and the International Award Association Team. Any reference to this document may be done so with prior approval.

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