Workers in India’s informal sector — people with jobs as street vendors, independent service providers, and more — make up 85 percent of the country’s workforce. These workers are poorly compensated and have few security benefits. They also lack access to formal skill training opportunities or recognition for the skills they learn. As a result, there is little to no upward mobility or opportunity to increase their incomes.
LabourNet is working to change this. As India’s leading social enterprise focused on informal workers, LabourNet offers vocational training to thousands of informal sector workers and provides them with pathways to improved livelihoods. By responding to the growing needs of the country’s rapidly developing economy and the needs of the people it serves, LabourNet is building an ecosystem to help informal workers achieve aspirational livelihoods.
When I began training, I realized that I would gain respect if I start my own business. I wouldn’t be here if LabourNet hadn’t supported me.Kader, LabourNet Trainee
How it Helps
From extensive experience in the labor industry, LabourNet co-founders Dr. Gayathri Vasudevan and Rajesh A.R. understand how to meet the needs of both informal workers and potential employers. By solving for the needs of both the corporate employer and the workers, the LabourNet platform builds sustainable livelihood pathways for its students.
When people in the unorganized workforce enroll with LabourNet, they receive guidance and support in these three focus areas.
LabourNet offers skill-building courses based on workers’ aptitude and aspirations, as well as industry demand. It also provides flexible continuing education options that allow workers to leave the program and enter the labor market at any point. Through apprenticeship and other models, workers can learn while earning an income to minimize the opportunity cost of gaining skills.
The organization connects workers with both formal and informal employment opportunities that meet their interests and newly developed skillset.
LabourNet provides mentors to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and launch successful businesses. The platform helps aspiring entrepreneurs connect with people and organizations in relevant markets, and also provides access to networking, financial institutions, and training in business, technology, and finance.
LabourNet’s employees, board, and investors are champions of its mission to improve economic opportunities among India’s informal worker population. This alignment enables the organization to scale its efforts and continue reaching more people.
A Lasting Impact on India’s Workforce
To date, LabourNet has helped more than 1 million people build new skills and earn specialized certifications. These individuals went on to secure jobs in the formal sector, launch businesses, support their families, and build stronger households and communities. The organization partners with more than 3,600 corporate sponsors, operates nearly 600 schools, and serves 28 sectors.
Thanks to LabourNet’s value-based leadership and sponsorship from hundreds of businesses that benefit from skilled workers, Forbes India awarded Dr. Vasudevan with an India Leadership Award for Social Impact in 2018.