Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) and India's Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) are proud to announce a new partnership to reach hundreds of thousands of young women and men over the next three years by leveraging Gap Inc.'s P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program. The collaboration represents a culmination of efforts across both organizations to provide greater opportunity to youth in rural communities across India.
P.A.C.E. was founded in 2007 on the belief that all women deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. Operating now in 17 countries, P.A.C.E. provides education and life skills learning including communication skills, problem-solving & decision-making, time & stress management, financial literacy, general health & hygiene, negotiation and people skills. Originally designed for women working in the Gap Inc. contracted manufacturing factories in India, it has expanded to include rural community settings, academic and vocational institutions, and emergency relief centers.
In 2019, two thousand youth participated in a P.A.C.E. pilot program in two Indian states - Kerala and Chhattisgarh - in partnership with MoRD and the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM). The program was evaluated by Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai (TISS), and demonstrated an increase in knowledge, attitude and skills (especially for topics related to gender, financial literacy, health and stress management) for those who participated in P.A.C.E., compared to a control group. Based on the results of the successful pilot and evaluation, MoRD and Gap Inc. agreed to broaden the partnership across the country. "P.A.C.E. taught us (about) the equality of women in society and the rights we have. This school of thought has changed and enhanced my outlook on my life and career. I am now more confident in applying and getting a job and growing my career," said Anu CB, a recent graduate of the program.
"In P.A.C.E. training, I learned to interact with people with good communication skills," said Kiran Banjare, a program participant who is now working as a sales executive in Reliance Raipur as a result of participating in the MoRD and P.A.C.E. pilot. "I am very careful about my financial management that I have learned through this training. I am now better able to handle stress and able to manage time. I also learned to maintain hygiene and it's helpful in this crucial situation."
"We are proud to support MoRD and the Indian Government's vision to empower poor and rural youth to be an economically independent and globally relevant workforce. Since 2007 we have been implementing P.A.C.E. in India, where we have seen the impact of the program, especially amongst youth who are entering the job market. P.A.C.E. provides a setting and framework to learn and apply foundational soft skills that we know are critical for positive behavior change in young people. We also see clear linkages to increases in retention and productivity in the workplace as a result of participating in the program," said Elvis Francis, Director of P.A.C.E., Gap Foundation.
Almost half of the over 500,000 women and girls who have participated in P.A.C.E. programs to date live in India, and as such, the program has gained recognition across the country, including with India's federal government. MoRD runs an initiative, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), the program through which P.A.C.E. will be deployed in partnership with MoRD. It focuses on skill development and job placement for poor rural youth ages 18-35. It is the largest program of its kind in India, and likely one of the biggest in the world, spreading across all 28 states and Union Territories, in partnership with over 650 local implementing organizations. Youth take part in skill development courses for a period of 3-12 months, with the goal of finding job placements in industries specific to their skillset. Youth also receive training across both technical and soft skills (like communication, financial literacy, job readiness, etc.), in addition to English and computer literacy.
S. Harikishore IAS, Executive Director, Kudumbashree Mission, Govt. of Kerala, said, "The integration of the P.A.C.E. curriculum with DDUGKY soft skills will bring forth greater possibilities of change for the rural aspirants joining the program, looking for a brighter future across the country. They will attain necessary technical skills and personal development which is essential for success." With the partnership between Gap Inc. and MoRD, P.A.C.E. will augment the current soft skills curriculum delivered through DDU-GKY, providing 80 hours of life skills content contextualized to meet the young peoples' needs. This full-scale roll-out will kick off this fall, with the goal of certifying around 150 P.A.C.E. Master Trainers across multiple regions in India, who in turn will be responsible for training a larger base of around 1,700 P.A.C.E. trainers, with the potential to reach over 100,000 youth annually going forward.