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Mohammed Aqdas Khan was born in a low-income household in east Delhi, where he lives with his parents and three siblings. Privileges did not come to Aqdas Khan naturally; he had to earn them by grabbing every opportunity that came his way. Qualities like clarity of mind and single-minded focus have helped him to navigate and overcome hardships. He started earning at the age of 21 by doing odd jobs and finally got a formal job at a restaurant aggregator and food delivery service. Along with his job, Aqdas was also pursuing his graduation, which he finished in 2021. Although he had a steady income, his heart was set on finding a better job in retail.

“I was always interested in retail. I have seen my cousins work in this sector in the Middle East. Interacting face-to-face with customers, meeting new people, understanding their problems and learning from them, strengthening communication skills – I like all aspects of the retail sector,” he shared.

He saw an opportunity in the Vocational Training Facility facilitated by Bal Raksha Bharat. “My elder brother was earning. I wanted to be independent, gain experience and not depend on anyone. I was keen on working on my experience so that I get better opportunities,” he said.

Mohd Aqdas attended individual counselling sessions with the Vocational Training Officer and enrolled himself for a 45-day retail course from a National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) approved institute. “I loved the course. I was unaware of a lot of things in retail. This course had both theory and practical. We did role plays of customer-sales person and learn how to make a pitch, talk to them, how to greet them. We also visited shopping malls as part of the course and observed how people worked at the counters. Whatever I learned in class, I could see all that happening in front of my eyes!” he said.

At the end of the course, he was employed in Bata India Limited, Gurugram, where he is now living the life of his dreams.

If the skill training course led Aqdas get his dream job, it also helped 19-year-old Shabana become independent and focus on her career. She has seven members in the family, including parents, two brothers and two sisters. She would take tuition classes to support her family.

“I was sitting idle at home during the pandemic. When Bal Raksha Bharat explained about the course and that they will cover the fee, I immediately wanted to sign up. I had noticed Bal Raksha Bharat’s work in our colony, distributing learning kits to children and helping people get ration cards,” shared Shabana.

She joined the course in November 2021 and is currently working in a BPO in Noida. “I have become independent. I can feel the difference it’s making ever since I started working. With this course, I was able to make a career for myself. I want to now also study while I am working and graduate in Arts,” she said. From earning Rs 500 by teaching children in the neighborhood to a monthly salary of Rs 10,000, she has come a long way.

For 22-year-old Pooja, the vocational training has come as a lifeline. Her mother passed away when she was a child and she lost her father three years back. “My father had left behind Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000. Earlier, my brother used to live with me to help tide over the household expenses, but after his marriage, he started living separately. Now, I am using my father’s money and doing tailoring work and somehow manage. I don’t have anyone to cover my expenses,” she said. Pooja’s course is still going on. She hopes to get a job after the course and work towards securing her future.

So far 207 youths have undergone training and 100 have secured placement. Bal Raksha Bharat, as a facilitator to improve awareness and access to the available government initiative on skilling the youth, plans to reach 770 youths in the age group of 18-25 age from urban and semi urban slums of South and East Delhi over the next two years through this initiative. Around 80% of the youths trained will be placed by the training partner and the rest 20% will be directly supported by Bal Raksha Bharat to find suitable job opportunities. Youths placed so far are earning between Rs 12,000-Rs 14,000 per month.

Career counselling and enrolment of youth within the community is done by Bal Raksha Bharat, its partners and the training institute. A career counsellor is also involved who uses several psychometric tools to assess the youth’s aptitude and interest area based on their qualification and market viability. Recruitment camps were held where over 30 companies participated.

Apart from skills training, these youths are also trained on digital literacy, spoken English, psychosocial support and other life skills. These courses are usually 45-60 days long.

As per an NSDC case study, by 2025 over 250 million young people are estimated to enter the Indian workforce, while only 5% of youth aged 20-24 have obtained vocational skills through a formal training system. Many students drop out of the formal educational system unaware of the alternative educational and employment opportunities available. These students often settle in rural areas and engage in daily wage work, and are not privy to the industry growth evident in urban areas.

With the centre committed to making India@2047 future ready, one that befits the 100th year of India’s independence, there is much focus on skilling of youth. The Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship aims to skill on a large scale with speed and high standards in order to achieve its vision of a ‘Skilled India’.

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