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A group of young adults in India sit on their school's steps.

Skills for Life: Empowering young adults to reach their full potential

Samar Bajaj and Sharvi Dublish

If the purpose of a good quality education is to help individuals reach their full potential, then what does an ideal education look like? Our work with Dream a Dream led us on a path to putting a spotlight on how life skills training can create equal opportunities for all students. The pandemic has resulted in insurmountable losses in learning levels and linking education to help children build social and quantitative skills is the need of the hour.

Young Warrior NXT: Scaling up evidence-based models for life skills education

Along with our partner YuWaah, supported by UNICEF and Udhyam Learning Foundation, we worked on 15 pilots to study the impact of teaching life skills on children. The program focused on teaching problem solving, collaboration, communication, achievement motivation, and self-awareness with the objective of identifying impactful life skills training models for children in the age group of 14-18.

Mahi, a student in Maharashtra, was part of the Young Warrior NXT (YWNXT) program. For three months, she had the opportunity to learn problem solving and collaboration through the in-school model described above. Her big takeaway was that she was intrigued to learn how body language could communicate so much about another individual’s state of mind, and thoroughly enjoyed her experience of working with a team. Listen to what Mahi had to say about her experience here.

YWNXT has reached more than 87,722 young people like Mahi. The 15 models can be split across 3 categories based on where the model was delivered, and the type of facilitation involved:

  • At-home models without facilitation: 3 models
  • At-home models with online facilitation/in-person nudges: 6 models
  • In-school/centre-based models with offline facilitation: 6 models

Life Skills as a means to improve employability and earning potential

Just like Mahi (in the age group of 14 -18 years) who learned about body language, Tanya, who was enrolled in the senior program (in the age group of 18 -23 years), recently completed the eight-week FutureX training program with Magic Bus, Delhi . The blended learning program included a weekly in-person class at the Magic Bus center where Tanya spent quality time with her trainer and 20 other peers. Post the completion of the program, Tanya was placed at Wipro, a software multinational company. She now aspires to build a better future for herself and her family. The life skills training helped her immensely with the interview preparation and contributed effectively to her new work environment. See what Tanya has to say about her experience:

After joining the program, I saw my communication abilities improve. I feel confident and proud of myself in how I handle daily tasks assigned to me at work.

The way ahead: large-scale adoption of life skills

This work helps to pave a path of prosperity for young people and their families. Life skills are the foundation for young children to navigate the uncertainties created by the pandemic and can help them develop social, emotional, and vocational skills. 

Single skill set jobs are on the decline and require us to flex both our social and quantitative skills. Our interactions with various employers and skilling partners re-enforce the view that foundational ‘horizontal’ skills are perceived as more important than domain specific skills.

For life skills to be integrated into mainstream curriculum, we will continue to work on three building blocks to enable a thriving ecosystem for life skills education in the country:

  1. Shared understanding of why life skills are important (achieved through a common vocabulary and eventually, a framework that integrates them into curriculum) in our work with Life Skills Collaborative
  2. Effective approaches to measurement and easily available tools that provide an objective view on what’s working and what’s not
  3. YWNXT – Suite of evidence-based models for delivering life skills at scale

Learnings from YWNXT can help develop new public-private partnerships for delivering life skills at scale while strengthening existing ones. YWNXT is a strong step in the right direction, but we need to continue our learning journey as these models scale. Introducing more iterative designs, control groups, and measuring impact over longer program durations are high value areas that can benefit the entire ecosystem. The detailed report on YWNXT can be accessed here.

YWNXT Life Skills Report

Learnings to help develop new public-private partnerships for delivering life skills at scale.

Access the Report