Skills Innovation Challenge Call India 2023

Skills Innovation Challenge Call in India: Upgrading informal apprenticeships through digital transformation

ILO, in partnership with UNICEF/YuWaah, calls for innovative solutions from not-for-profit organizations in India that support upgrading informal apprenticeships through digital transformation. Four winning organizations will receive financial support, technical guidance, and global visibility of their innovation in skills development. The deadline for application is extended until 3 September 2023 (24:00 Delhi time).

1. Context

The global megatrends, such as technological advancements, demographic shifts, climate change, globalization, and more recently COVID-19 pandemic are making major disruptions in the world of work, causing the loss of some jobs while creating new ones. Capitalizing opportunities, under such circumstances, will depend on building an agile workforce capable of transitioning smoothly to newly created jobs through appropriate and timely skilling, reskilling and upskilling.

The Indian economy is driven by its enterprises operating in informal market. With nearly 94 per cent of the enterprises in the country and employing 110.9 million workers, micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) have immense potential for employment and income generation. Those who start their careers in the informal sector could acquire technical skills and enter the formal labour market, thus informal apprenticeships can emerge as an effective way of preparing the skilled workforce with right hands-on skills. However, without adequate upgrading through modernization and transformation, informal apprenticeships could adversely limit the enhancement of employability and career advancement of workers, as well as the productivity and competitiveness of MSMEs.

Upgrading informal apprenticeships refer to the gradual improvement of a training system embedded in the culture and traditions of societies, aiming at making the informal apprenticeships system more dynamic to respond to current and future changes and to support the creation of dynamic local economies. An upgraded informal apprenticeships system can also address decent work deficits in informal apprenticeships, including gender segregation. In particular, women tend to be disadvantaged by the preponderance of male-dominated trades among those offering informal apprenticeships and concentrated in a few traditionally female trades.

Under these circumstances, with the support from the Government of Flanders, and building on the findings from ADULT project, the ILO, in partnership with UNICEF/YuWaah, launch the Skills Innovation Challenge Call to seek innovative solutions for upgrading informal apprenticeships through digital transformation.

2. Objectives and scope

The objective of the Challenge Call is to identify, incubate, test, and disseminate innovative solutions in India that support upgrading of informal apprenticeships through digital transformation:

• The proposed solutions have to apply digital means in order to tackle one or more of the following issues:

1. Anticipate skills required in targeted sectors and design structured training programmes on a systematic basis and at lower cost
2. Provide complementary theoretical training in informal apprenticeships for targeted occupations with improved outreach and cost effectiveness
3. Conduct skills assessments in informal apprenticeships with greater outreach and improved cost effectiveness
4. Improve productivity and occupational safety and health in workplaces in informal apprenticeships
5. Increase women and their families’ awareness of the potentials of non-traditional jobs in digitally supported occupations

• The proposed solutions targeted at women, especially those in disadvantaged and remote groups, will receive bonus points during the evaluation process.

The proposal should have an innovative dimension – for example, innovative training approaches; tools and technologies; data analysis for skills development; and partnerships that contribute to upgrading of informal apprenticeships. The solutions can be at any stage of development. They can be early-stage innovations or at a more advanced stage. They can be ideas to improve, expand and/or promote a solution that is already being implemented. They can be an idea of a single organization or involve a joint collaborative effort of different actors, including through partnerships with governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations. Each organization can only be part of a single consortium presenting a solution and can only apply once.

3. Eligibility of applicants

Legally registered not-for-profit organizations in India that carry out non-profit oriented work, including non-governmental organizations (NGO), universities, other research and educational institutions (including public TVET institutions, schools, and training providers), and other relevant organizations, can submit proposals to the Challenge Call.

Please read the Participants’ Guidelines for more information.

4. Awards and applicable procedures for winners

A total of four winning organizations will be selected and receive the following support. (Please read the Participants’ Guidelines for more information.)

1. Financial support

The top four winning organizations will be awarded USD 20,000 each to implement their proposed solutions. (The expenditure of the grant needs to be completed by the end of December 2023, though the project implementation may continue after January 2024.)

2. Technical guidance

3. Global visibility

4. Access to a network of innovators in skills development

5. Application process and key dates

1st Application round

Applicant organizations should:
  1. Review the eligibility criteria for participation in the Challenge Call, selection criteria for assessments, and the Terms and Conditions applicable to ILO Grant Agreements specified in this Participants’ Guidelines.
  2. Fill in the Application Form (incl. Budget Template) and submit it by 3 September 2023 (midnight Delhi time).

2nd Application round

The shortlisted applicant organizations will be requested to submit an extended project proposal and will be invited to the final round of evaluation, which may include an interview or pitch event.

Key dates and deadlines

The key dates and deadlines are as follows (and remain subject to change):

Challenge call launched 3 July 2023
Deadline for submission of proposals 3 September 2023
Eligibility review August/September 2023
First round of evaluation August/September 2023
Second round of evaluation September 2023
Winner announcement ceremony October 2023
Awards formalized October 2023
Project implementation started  October/November 2023

For any questions regarding the application process, please send an email to:

6. Evaluation criteria

TThe submitted applications will be assessed by an independent panel, composed of ILO and UNICEF/YuWaah specialists in the subject areas. The panel may also include external experts, from partner organizations where applicable.  Please read the full evaluation criteria in the Participants’ Guidelines.