The slowdown of the economy rendered youth hailing from shelter jobs over the age of 18, jobless and unable to manage their living expenses. While temporary relief through donations was available during the initial months, it has started dwindling and raised the requirement of a regular earning source for their sustenance. Youth care-leavers (youngsters who leave the shelter homes) lack awareness and exposure to career guidance, finding employment and work skills. As a result, they take up low-paying, odd jobs in the unorganized sector, which is one of the worst affected sectors during this pandemic.
Nonprofit organisation Muskurahat Foundation launched Project Saarthi with the aim to equip these youngsters to find employment on an emergency basis and work with them in the long term to identify and take steps towards building their choice of career. The long-term vision of the project is to support the youngsters in equipping them with life skills and mental health support to be able to uplift themselves from their current situation.
Due to the on-going Covid-19 situation, Muskurahat Foundation identified a pressing need of income source for a cluster of youth care-leavers in Kolhapur (youth of 18 years and above who are required to leave the care of shelter homes as per the JJ Act). An emergency job readiness training was conducted in Kolhapur for a pilot batch of 35 youngsters to help them identify and secure job opportunities in line with the current job trends. Parallel to this, the youngsters will be paired with one-on-one mentors to guide them in identifying their life goals and action plans to achieve it.
“As we explored this segment, we realised the lack of NGO penetration in Kolhapur and surrounding areas, a result of which is the lack of exposure for the children in shelter homes. These children anyway grow up with the absence of a family that takes care of your basic needs till the time they are able to earn their own living,” says Himanshu Goenka, Founder, Muskurahat Foundation. “The requirement was urgent and of their survival, we took quick decisions to support them in the interim to resolve their immediate requirements while keeping our focus on the long term that is to help them build quality lives for themselves.”
The day-long workshop was packed with identifying their existing skills and interests and matching it with the current availability of jobs in and around them. The participants were exposed to different avenues of finding jobs, preparing for application, job query and interview preparation, etc. All tangible takeaways that would help the participant to start their job search immediately and rationally. The need for on-ground training proved essential as the participants didn’t possess smartphones or reliable networks and to ensure their buy-in into the project.
With the pilot batch underway, the learnings are helping Muskurahat plan and execute more batches that will serve the large community of youth care-leaves currently in need in Kolhapur. Additionally, a scholarship is made available to all participants to take up skill-building courses to bridge their skill gap.
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