Low female labor force participation in India has an adverse impact on the socioeconomic advancement of women and overall economic growth. There is reason to believe that, especially in case of rural women, lack of skills training may have a role to play.
Government and NGO programs have tried to bridge this gap via provision of targeted skills training. The first-order policy question of interest is, does vocational or entrepreneurial training generate meaningful changes in women’s skill sets, employment outcomes, and income? Randomized controlled trials over the past decade have produced evidence on this question, and results have varied considerably by context. One reason why training programs may generate small treatment effects is related to selection into program participation. For example, many programs promote enrollment by providing monetary incentives to participants. This strategy might be inefficient because:
Hence, the policy questions we aim to answer here are twofold. First, what are the impacts of training in soft and technical skills on program participants? Second, what strategies can generate more efficient selection and allocation of candidates to the programs?
These questions are relevant for the efficient implementation of the Tejaswini program, and programs like this around the world.
The ‘Tejaswini’ scheme in Jharkhand, India is targeted at adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in the age group of 14-24 years. The program builds Tejaswini clubs at the local level which act as a safe space for women to assemble. The program aims to reach 680,000 AGYM in 17 districts, and improve skills, and the rate of secondary school completion. The participating women are first enrolled in the clubs and get access to 3-4 months of life skills training. Post that a subsample can opt for one the following three tracks:
The monetary provision for the incentives in total will be able to cover 150,000 participants. This limited availability will likely lead to oversubscription. As part of the enrollment, the program will also carry out a psychometric assessment of the candidates. The research team will use the oversubscription feature to identify candidates with similar preferences who were allocated different vocational training programs due to limited seats, through a matching algorithm. This program feature will be used to find the impact of selection and Tejaswini program.
Image credit: Nayantara Parikh