Empowerment Through Knowledge

Glasgow Kelvin College's Support of Disability Projects

In 2016, Glasgow Kelvin College and Lemon Tree Hotels began a fruitful partnership through a UKIERI (UK India Education Research Initiative) programme. The programme was designed to share best practices in training and employing people with additional support needs (ASN) in the hospitality sector. Central to this partnership was The Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPwD) in India.

One of the aims of the partnership between these three organisations was to develop and introduce apprenticeship based training frameworks for people with ASN in Scotland, based on the successful model of Lemon Tree Hotels (LTH) in India. The Deputy First Minister of Scotland visited Lemon Tree in Delhi in November 2018 and witnessed their inclusive employment practices. He also welcomed the Indian partners (LTH, SCPwD and Muskaan) to the Scottish Parliament in 2019, when they also met with the Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills. They also spoke to several hospitality employers who were interested in the model and wanted to learn more about it.

In March 2020, LTH (Aradhana Lal), Vice President - Sustainability Initiatives & ESG, visited Scotland and spoke at the Scottish Tourism Alliance conference. She shared her experience and insights on how to create an inclusive workplace culture and how to benefit from the diverse talents of people with ASN. She also met with the First Minister of Scotland and received significant interest from employers who wanted to hire people with ASN and support their career development.

Dialogue with LTH, Muskaan and the SCPwD is continuing. In September 2023, LTH and Muskaan are visiting Scotland for a week to meet with employers and partners to share knowledge about the training and employment of people with additional support needs.

About Lemon Tree Hotels

LTH is India’s largest hotel chain in the mid-priced sector. It operates in the upscale segment and in the mid-market sector, consisting of the upper-midscale, midscale, and economy segments. It currently operates 8,550 rooms in 91 hotels across 57 destinations, in India and abroad. LTH delivers differentiated yet superior service offerings, with a value-for-money proposition. LTH has a unique social mission: to provide employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities. The company believes that disability is not an obstacle to excellence, but rather a source of diversity and innovation.

Lemon Tree Hotels has been recognised as one of the best employers in India for its inclusive and empowering work culture. The company hires people with different types of disabilities, such as hearing impairment, visual impairment, Down Syndrome, autism, physical impairment and Acid Survivors. It also provides them with customised training programmes and mentoring support to help them grow and excel in their roles. They work closely with a number of NGOs/training partners like Muskaan, Action For Autism, Sai Swayam Society, Dr Reddy’s Foundation, Youth4Jobs and more. These training partners specialise in training people with additional support needs and preparing them for mainstream employment.

LTH aims to create a positive impact on the lives of its employees, customers and society at large by promoting the values of respect, dignity and equality for all.

Visit the Lemon Tree Hotels website

Lemon Tree recruits for attitude and trains for skills. They have hired and trained over 3,000 people from the most marginalised sections of Indian society including disability, Acid attack survivors as well as orphans, abandoned girls, school dropouts and the transgender community.

As well as this they also try to reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy, recycling and reusing water in many different ways and running their hotels by adopting the principles of reduce, recycle and reuse.

About Muskaan

Diversity, not disability. Growth, not neglect.

Muskaan has gained widespread recognition for its groundbreaking efforts in providing vocational training and creating employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities. Their innovative approach has been acknowledged as an effective rehabilitation model, receiving acclaim both nationally and internationally. Muskaan has welcomed parents and professionals from organisations worldwide, including Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Mauritius, China, Japan, Singapore, and Afghanistan, who have visited our facilities in recent years and expressed appreciation for our diverse programs.

Through Muskaan’s experience of working with adults, they have been inspired by their student’s growth and resilience when given proper opportunities. Muskaan have witnessed firsthand how students can acquire various skills, become more self-reliant, and lead productive lives. It is not their disability that limits them, but rather the lack of adequate training that hinders their progress and subjects them to a life of deprivation and despair.

Muskaan's story is one of collective determination, unwavering optimism, and an unwavering commitment to their mission. In 1982, a group of parents and professionals recognized the need for services and facilities catering to individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families. Initially, Muskaan was a loosely connected network, with uncertainties about the path ahead. However, through continuous learning, course corrections, and the accumulation of experience, Muskaan has steadily carved its path forward.

In 1989, Muskaan launched an adult training and employment program, which has earned widespread acclaim for its uniqueness and quality. It all began with three students and one teacher in a garage in Kalkaji, New Delhi. Today, Muskaan stands as the result of a remarkable journey fueled by determination and passion, inspired by spirited and committed individuals, including their students who have always remained the focal point of our work. The development of all projects and programs at Muskaan has been guided by new ideas, research, and experimentation.

The name "Muskaan" means "smile," and their campus is filled with smiles. Smiles radiate from the faces of their students and workers, trainers and supervisors, as well as parents, reflecting the positive impact and uplifting environment fostered by Muskaan.

Read the full History and Vision of Muskaan

Visit the Muskaan Paepid website

About Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPwD)

In October 2015, the Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPwD) was established in accordance with a specific provision of the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015. This significant milestone was achieved through the combined efforts of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE), the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), and the Confederation of India Industry (CII), operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India.

The primary objective of SCPwD is to wholeheartedly embrace diversity and promote the integration of individuals with disabilities, commonly referred to as 'Persons with Disability' (PwD), by providing them with skill training opportunities.

The MSDE-UKIERI Skills Thematic Institutional Partnerships Empowerment through Knowledge: A Programme for Social Justice, spanning from February 2018 to February 2021, brought together various partners to champion an important cause. As part of this initiative, the Skill Council took on a leading role in collaboration with Glasgow Kelvin College.

The overarching goal of this multi-partner project was to establish a fresh framework for training and development of qualifications, with a specific focus on empowering individuals with disabilities. This group often faces significant social and economic challenges. By actively engaging with learners, employers, and support organizations, SCPwD is striving to create meaningful employment opportunities. Through these efforts, the project aims to generate sustainable learning and social outcomes in both India and Scotland.

Read more about Skill Council for Persons with Disability (SCPwD)

Visit the SCPwD website