Building an Enterprise during Pandemic : A Case Study of SWAN Livelihood

My venture SWAN Livelihood (Skilled Workforce Advancing Nation) is a start-up based out of Delhi, India. It focuses on improving the quality of youthful workforce through specially designed training programs and counselling sessions.

Our mission is to bring smiles on scores of youth and develop a congenial atmosphere in the workplace with satisfied employers. However for myself, my co-founder and our staff, the main inspiration comes from seeing the smiles from the youth we’re supporting. Everyday we strive to improve the quality of the youthful workforce through innovative training and counselling sessions.

We started our operations in January 2020 by empowering youth coming from the economically weaker society by designing a training curriculum that was focused on comprehensive in-class training followed by connecting the participants to the employers.

We observed that during pandemic, the operations of nearly all the TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) institutions came to a complete halt impacting the job aspirations of innumerable youth. It was during this time that an in-depth survey was conducted by SWAN (Skilled Workforce Advancing Nation) Livelihood, to gather information on the pain points of youth involving groups from lower socio-economic sections, college students and early to late stage working professions. Self- belief and consistency in work can do wonders and have helped us in seeking support from various stakeholders and forging meaningful partnerships this year as we were able to impact over 500 participants coming from different walks of life, by spreading our wings to the rural villages of Uttarakhand, the insights from which got published the peer reviewed journal, Labour & Development by V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Govt. of India.

Assessment of the situation underlined the need for counselling and skill development support.  SWAN Livelihood made an effort in this direction by launching another up-skilling platform called Skill-X that included specially designed workshops to train the youth for a competitive professional environment in a post-pandemic world. Series of reflective sessions were organised aimed at acquiring learning for life mind-set and evoking creative consciousness through creative self discovery. The workshops were well received by over 100+ participants.

“Interaction and mapping the aspirations of the participants of diverse groups during these workshops, led to a revelation that most of them are looking for a creative space that would help them in thinking differently. This craving in them was to comprehend their full potential for being more productive at respective workplaces and lead their teams more effectively with compassion. For some, there was a misbalance in the work and life and they were looking for ways for being at peace on being mindful through creative practices like Visual Journaling and Abstract Expressionism. The insights developed during the sessions helped us in designing a week long workshop imbibing elements of creativity and self discovery. It was specifically focussed at helping the participants to have a growth mindset while analysing their key strength areas through various frameworks,” says Meghna Joshi, Founder, SWAN Livelihood.

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out earlier this year, much of the world moved online, accelerating a digital transformation that has been underway for decades. Children with at-home Internet access began attending classes remotely; many employees started working from home; and numerous firms adopted digital business models to maintain operations and preserve some revenue flows. While these activities demonstrate the tremendous potential of the digital transformation, the pandemic has also accentuated the gaps that remain such as, the lack of human touch in the entire process.

“Above all, the pandemic made us realise that the Aesthetic Leadership is most impactful in terms of managing the teams as it celebrates the spirit of feelings and emotion. It incorporates undefined, experiential ways of knowing through gut senses, feeling, intuition and bodily presence that can be shared between the leader and the follower. There exists an artist inside the leader and thus the pertinence for such aesthetic leaders in the future of work is important,” says Simran Gahlot, PhD scholar at Ambedkar University Delhi.”

Almost every organisation had to innovate and makeover in order to survive during the harsh realities imposed by the Covid-19. Most of the employees had to change their working habits in order to ensure that business operates as usual.

“During Covid-19, organisations were trying to spike creativity by offering many engagement activities like online family engagement practices, virtual creative software L&D, alignment sessions, team meet-ups over video conference for lunch, short online game sessions, virtual challenges and competitions. Other such activities include appreciation sessions, communication exercises, online counselling sessions, recognition and acknowledgment session along-with webinars dealing with anxiety and stress. Meditation and many more learning sessions are being put into practice to spark creative thinking.” Mentions Arushi Bathla, PhD scholar at Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi.”

We have been running monthly batches of the online upskilling programmes along with two more projects, ‘The Rural Youth Project’ where we are trying to spread our wings across the entire state of Uttarakhand to provide mentoring & Counselling support to the rural youth between the age-group 12 – 25 years  and The Urban Youth Project, where we are trying to make the youth coming from the marginalised sections of the society employable in Retail Industry in Delhi/NCR.  One can visit our website for more details or connect with the founder directly on her linkedln account for any partnering possibilities

Dr. Sanjay Lunia

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