Mekala Trenadh from Hyderabad had lost his leg in an accident, but that did not stop him from becoming a successful B.Tech engineer working with the gaming MNC. Belonging to an extremely humble background, now he is adeptly helping his community as well in working towards a better future. Mekala is one of those 10200 specially abled people whose lives have been touched by Youth4Jobs. This organisation has helped him find a job which was apt for his skill set and also helped him create an identity of his own.
Of the approximately 60 million persons with disability in India only about 0.1% have succeeded in getting employed till now. But those working in the field say that employ-ability figures are likely very poor on account of limited resources and difficulties in providing them with skills which could lead to employ ability. Based out of Hyderabad, Youth4Jobs is skilling linked placement centre for persons with disability which was founded in 2012 by Meera Shenoy who is the author of the best-seller book on successful entrepreneurs with disabilities “YOU CAN” that was launched last year in Jaipur Literary festival. She also is invited globally to do workshops on diversity around this book. When The Logical Indian asked what made her begin this organisation, she said, “I wanted to do something different from what I did on my previous job. This area had a lot of scope for improvement as nothing was being done for youth for disabilities.” “Any impact in India, will not only impact the country, but it will have a global impact,” she added.
With over a decade of experience, Youth4jobs for the first time helped in changing the tone of training from training for the sake of training to skilling specially oriented for the persons with disability to get a job. Their object lies in providing livelihood options for the persons with disability so that they can lead a dignified life. With an ability to make ground breaking innovations, their primary target consumers locomotor impaired, visually impaired and speech and hearing impairment. With eighteen training centres across ten states and an union territory in the country, Youth4Jobs helps in creating right employment opportunities irrespective of a person’s disabilities. Rural Youth with disability used to be employed only as housekeeping. Youth4Jobs has opened the basket of options for them now to retail, hospitality, manufacturing, beauty and wellness,banking and finance to name some.
How do they function ?
In a country with a population of 1.25 billion, 60 million are persons with disabilities, which if put in another way is a huge talent pool that needs to be channelised to the mainstream society. To facilitate the channeling process Youth4Jobs sets up mobilisation camps in villages, cities with the help of local civic bodies, government institutes and NGOs. These mobilisation camps help in locating and mapping the vulnerable section who later enroll in their two month-long training program.
The youth mostly hail from rural areas, thereby having negligible access to computer education. Thus inducting them in basic computer skills and English is an integral part of the program which makes them familiar with the skill set needed to work in an organised sector. For the speech and hearing impaired youth, they are taught the standardised Indian sign language so that the barrier of lip reading a language which they are not familiar is done away with. With respect to the demographic composition of youth in these training centres, there are a minimum of 30% girls, who are skilled to help them live on their own. Skilling women helps them act as a catalyst agent of bringing about the change which is necessary when it comes to the mentality of the disabled and their immediate families. Their training, lodging and food expenses is taken care of by the donors.
“If you look at when we entered the space, there was very few centres for training youth with disabilities in the country. Most were focusing on computer training and no one was looking at the last mile of getting a job,” Meera said. “The work was extremely difficult. A template needed to be made which was later scaled across the country,” she added.
Youth4Jobs focused on training youth from the rural area and a huge impact has been created on the girls who are differently abled. A lot of work had to be done sensitising the companies who would hire these skilled youth. Today, 10200 youth with persons with disability have been trained by Youth4Jobs. It is the largest of its kind in the country and they work with 500 companies out of which 200 are for the first time.
When The Logical Indian spoke to Sumant Agnihotri, Communications Officer of Youth4Jobs, he said, “One can actually see a drastic change in the youth after they complete their training. We can see a heightened self-esteem and they exude confidence the way they talk and carry themselves.They are normally used to people ill behaving with them so it takes about a month for them to come of their shell and work on their confidence.” Special talent recognition sessions are undertaken which help the trainers to map the strong focus areas of the youth.
When it comes to placing them after skilling, Youth4Jobs has a large network of companies in the retail sector, in the media and the IT sector. Recruiters often go through a sensitising session which focuses on the fact that disability is not a disease and these youth are a talent pool with skills that are exclusive in nature. The youth are placed as cashiers, folding assistants and customer interaction jobs which help in breaking the prejudice that specially abled ones are any less than any one of us. One of the best examples of recruiter satisfaction is Chennai-based automobile company Valeo. It had started with 5 recruits which has expanded to over 70 and has inspired other automobile companies to do the same. Self-realization workshops are conducted for the recruiting companies as well. These training centre ensures forging a connection with the recruiters unlike the others.
We asked what message does the founder of Youth4Jobs have to convey to the readers of The Logical Indian, Meera said, “It is important realise the disability and we need to make sure to accommodate them in public and private spaces, we need to recognise and nurture their special talent.” On asking where would the organisation stand five years down the line, he said, “We work on an innovation model which can be replicable across anywhere in the globe after certain customisation according the ecosystem of the society. We want to create a presence in all the states of the country. Providing education and skilling specially privileged section of the society helps them to contribute to the growth of the nation. We want to reach out to one million households, train and place 15000 people with disabilities. We want to touch one million households with the message of “Ability in Disability”. ”
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