British Asian Trust, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and Dalberg Advisors
HSBC India, JSW Foundation, Dubai Cares, National Skill Development Council (NSDC), Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), Gram Tarang Employability Training Services Pvt Ltd, Learnet Skills Ltd, Magic Bus India Foundation, PanIIT Alumni Reach For India Foundation, and Tata Strive, Oxford Policy Management, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), USAID, McDermott Will & Emery, Nishith Desai Associates
Despite strong commitments by governments and philanthropic organisations worldwide, female labour force participation remains stubbornly low. In India, despite significant investments by the public, private, and non-profit sectors, less than 1 in 4 women are working or looking for work. This situation has been further exacerbated by the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, who were 7 times more likely to lose jobs during the national lockdown than men.
Gendered social norms limit women’s agency and aspirations, and hinder their access to technical and vocational training. While women make up 50% of trainees in national skilling programmes, only 10% of them stay in jobs for 3 months or more post-skilling. Moreover, funding in the Indian skilling ecosystem is still predominantly input-driven (focused on milestones such as enrolment and completion), and not based on outcomes like ensuring that women find and keep jobs. This behoves a realignment of incentives to drive accountability, performance, and innovation in the skilling ecosystem.
The Skill Impact Bond (SIB) was developed and launched with this vision in 2021 by a consortium of influential stakeholders as India’s first – and the world’s largest – development impact bond (DIB) for skilling and employment. The SIB envisions benefiting 50,000 young people, 60% of whom will be women by focusing on outcome delivery to fuel training, employability and job retention. They aim to do so by providing flexible and risk-taking capital to training partners and generate and disseminate evidence on additionality, price per outcome, and value for money in the skilling sector. Moreover, they hope to facilitate institutionalisation of outcomes-focus, innovations, and gender lens in the skilling ecosystem, policies, and schemes.
All consortium partners align on a core, well-defined outcomes framework which led to the signing of a legally binding agreement to cement their joint commitment to this shared agenda. Moreover, all partners affirm that systems change is at the heart of design and execution.
The design phases of the SIB specifically benefited from the Government of India’s National Skill Development Corporation’s (NSDC) deep experience, rigorous data, and knowledge of best practices from various skilling schemes over the years; Children’s Investment Fund Foundation’s (CIFF) work on enhancing access to education and livelihood opportunities for girls; and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF)’s understanding of impact investment and new approaches in the skilling ecosystem. Rich data and insights were provided by HSBC India, JSW Foundation, and Dubai Cares extensive work in the skilling ecosystem and support to young people. Dalberg Advisors and British Asian Trust’s (BAT) expertise in innovative finance and BAT’s expertise in fund management and capital mobilisation also played a critical role in building a truly collaborative and complimentary coalition of partners.
Measurement of these outcomes is undertaken by Oxford Policy Management, using an evaluation methodology that prioritises trainees’ own perceptions of their outcomes. For capacity building and monitoring, Dalberg Advisors and NSDC consistently work with training providers. Five of India’s leading skilling organisations bring specialised skilling expertise to the table. As the Transaction Manager and Evaluation Manager, the British Asian Trust tightly facilitates collaboration and project management on the behalf of the consortium. These and many more partners have allowed SIB to focus on innovation and scale, and cross-fertilise best practices.