October 2013 | Sangeeta Menon

Crafted to provide hope

With their vocational training courses and skills-building initiatives, Tata Chemicals has enabled people from the poorest sections of society to earn their own living through a variety of ways

With a deep commitment to creating sustainable livelihood options, Tata Chemicals’ employability initiatives seek to develop skills that fall into three broad categories: those that address the needs of the community or the region, those that meet a business requirement, and skills that reflect national growth aspirations.

The company’s rural BPO projects in Mithapur in Gujarat and Babrala in Uttar Pradesh, under the Uday Foundation, skills rural youth for BPO work to meet the growing need for trained staff. This has, in a small way, also helped stem the migration to urban areas. In Babrala, the Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) tied up with Larsen & Toubro (L&T) to train youth from neighbouring villages to learn the skills required for various aspects of the plant’s expansion. Some of them have also found employment with L&T.

Other vocational training courses on offer include masonry, fitting, welding, carpentry, mobile repairing, accounting, basic computers, desktop publishing and garment making. Tie-ups with L&T, the Indian Hotels Company, the National Institute of Fashion Technology and others have helped bring in the right kind of expertise and industry intelligence.

These non-farm livelihood courses, conducted around the company’s plants in Babrala, Mithapur and Haldia (West Bengal), have so far trained 8,500 women and youth. Over the last five years, close to 6,000 rural people have benefitted from the company’s farm-based livelihood initiatives in pond management, agricultural services, seed production, dairying, food processing, etc.

Promoting handicraft skills has been another successful endeavour at Tata Chemicals. Its famous Okhai model empowers local artisans, providing them with design, marketing and enterprise management support. Okhai is now a separate trust and an umbrella brand under which all handicrafts and livelihood programmes of TCSRD are managed.

Working closely with local communities, the company is set to play a meaningful role in the group-wide skills-building programme. “This will help us scale up in a big way,” says Alka Talwar, head of corporate sustainability at Tata Chemicals. “It will also help Tata companies learn from each other’s experience, besides improving the quality, depth and reach of the group’s skills-building efforts.”


This article is a part of a special report on a skills-building initiative by the Tata group, published in the October 2013 issue of Tata Review
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