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SKILLS FOR A BETTER TOMORROW-An Initiative of Salesian Province of Kolkata

A two-day meet was held on the 29th  and 30th of April 2022 at Don Boso Tech Nitika, Kolkata, under the initiative of the Salesians Province of Kolkata. The theme for the seminar was "Skills for a Better tomorrow".

The program was graced by the presence of  Fr. George Mathew, Executive Director of Don Bosco Tech, Provincial Fr Joseph Pauria, Vice Provincial Fr. Sunil Tirkey, Provincial Economer Fr. Jijo John, Principal and Technical Commission Head of Kolkata Province Fr. Joseph Podi, Centre in Charges of all the Active and Inactive Centres along with the Trainers and the State Team of Don Bosco Tech, West Bengal.

The meeting commenced at 9:30 with a prayer song. This was followed by a Welcome speech from Fr. Jose Podimattathil who encouraged the team to work towards bridging the gap between school education and technical school education. He further stated that efforts must be made to support skills development because there is a huge demand for aspirants and also placement opportunities. To achieve this, everyone has to work together.
After the welcome speech, Fr. Provincial, Fr. George, Fr. Jijo, Fr. Jose, Fr. Vice Provincial and various other dignitaries and participants of the meeting were invited to light the lamp. 

A Presentation on Don Bosco Tech Initiative in Skilling in the Province from 2010 to 2022 was shared by Mr Augustin Tesra (State Coordinator Don Bosco Tech) The presentation was followed up by speeches from Fr. Provincial, Fr. George Mathew and Fr. Vice–Provincial.

Fr. Provincial shared about the 5 guidelines given to the province by Fr. Rector Major, two of which have been chosen by Fr. Provincial as a challenge for the province which is 1. The absolute priority for the young and the poorest and the most abundant and the defenceless.
and 2. Accompanying the youth towards a sustainable future.
The Provincial also gave 5 suggestions for the province to follow:
1. To Complete involvement of Salesian Staff.
2. Collaboration and sharing between the region and local
3. Shared responsibility
4. Joint formation for collaborators – orientation about contents and method.
5. Greater accountability and financial transparency.

Fr. George Mathew shared about the technicalities and compliances related to skill development training certifications, training of trainers, trainer certification, domains and courses on offer. He mentioned thatTVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training), has come of age in India. It is no longer non-formal training but formal as there are a lot of compliances involved. He further explained that NSDC recognized 38 sectors – each sector has a sector skill council. The courses are defined in the skill council. In March'2022 – many courses are retired and new versions are approved as per industry requirements. Confirmation and information are yet to be received from NSDC. TOT is organized by skill sector councils, It is a must for trainers for student batches to be registered on Skill India Portal (SIP) for certification. The Salesians must upskill themselves to remain relevant and to get proper certification.

He also shared additional information that by 2027, the  "Iron and Steel council" has targeted to have a 100% NSDC certified workforce. All data must be captured in BOON FACE. This platform can be used for recording data from all centres. 
Fr. Vice Provincial stated that the whole process of skilling and employing the youth is not new to the Salesian history.
They can help the children get gainfully employed in a dignified way.
 He encouraged the team to come together and become efficient and achieve more. Reduce the GAP between "They" and "us" between the region and local.

After a short break, the meeting reconvened and all the active DB-Tech centres and ITI centres gave their presentations. They shared their achievements, success stories, challenges, innovations and suggestions. After the lunch break, Mrs Shatabdi gave a  presentation about the In-active DB Tech centres. She shared about their past achievements and possible reasons for project closure. This was followed by a short presentation from a few of the In-active centre team. They shared their interests in continuing their program even after the closure of the Don Bosco Tech projects.

 One of the presentations was also from Don Bosco Technical – Thecho Nepal which was presented by Br. Philip James. He shared the strategy of engaging and mobilizing local resources to support project sustainability. Some of the practices are engaging with government schools and other elite institutions, engaging their students and giving them exposure to various vocational training options.Fr. Mani from Liluah Technical school also shared that 13 new non-formal courses have started.

Post a short break after the presentation, there was an open discussion session headed by Fr. George Mathew who addressed a few queries that were raised during the presentation about Don Bosco Tech. He clarified matters relating to frequent change in domains, tenure of training courses and catchment area (specifically with ITC projects) all depended on the donor preference and there is nothing much that can be done. Despite negotiations,  donors have their own strategical requirements. He also clarified a few questions that were raised by trainers and coordinators from various centres during the discussion. 

The meeting for the first day came to a close at around 5:00 pm with Fr. Jijo, asking the participants and Salesians to do some strategic thinking regarding running an independent and sustainable training program and in time share the same with the province management committee.
The second day of the program mostly dealt with clearing the doubts about the paid mode Centres and also regarding the support of Don Bosco Tech Society in helping with the Certification and Operation Process. A small animation session was conducted by Mr Augustin (State Coordinator-West Bengal) & Mr Romden Lucksom (State Placement & Operations) to all the trainers of West Bengal.

The two days program ended with a vote of thanks by Fr. Jijo and overall the two days seminar gave everyone an insight as to how the Centres can function, with or without the funding partners, to be more self-reliant and also function independently.