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And they are doing it while the aspiring student is still at university so after graduation they are equipped with both the qualifications and work skills that employers seek.
BA undergrad Namita Gautam is currently enrolled at one of many Medha career service centres operating on public college campuses. The 23-year-old, whose father is a railway employee and mother a homemaker, is keen to find employment as soon as she graduates.
She says: “I joined Medha to improve my communication skills and get help finding a job.” Then adds: “I only come to college to attend Medha classes!”
With their primary focus being young women from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds, Medha work in collaboration with three key stakeholders – employers, students and academia – to close the skills gap between education and industry.
The success of Medha’s method is exemplified in life-changing stories such as Kanchanlata's, a 27-year-old farmer’s daughter from Kakori, a village north of Lucknow. This Medha graduate is now a sales executive at Eureka Forbes and pursuing a part-time MBA course. She says: “There is still a lot of gender discrimination in my village which motivates me to set a strong example of a successful women entrepreneur.”
One of India’s biggest assets is the size of its youth population. With more than half below the age of 25, it is a demographic that attracts multinationals to take advantage of the growing young workforce.
On the flip side, 75% of the 15million youngsters who enter India’s job market every year are unemployable. The most infamous outcome of this took place in Lucknow in 2015, Medha’s hometown, when postgraduates and PhD holders were among the 23lakh applicants for 300-odd posts for peons in the Uttar Pradesh secretariat.
A government job with lesser workload, benefits and security is a desirable option for students graduating from an education system that leaves them unskilled for the job market.
This is where Medha are making a real difference: their students are 75% more likely to get employed in the formal sector, earn 50% more than their peers and stay in their first job 12 months longer.