“Earlier, I used to wonder what my future would be. Now I have no fears.”

Archana, like thousands of youth in India, was searching for a smooth transition from high school into some form of employment and realized that she did not have the right skills. She tried her hand at a local grocery store, but soon got disillusioned and left. When she learned of AIF’s MAST program in partnership with University of Mumbai’s GICED center, Archana applied for and completed her skilling course. She was soon recruited by one of India’s leading retail apparel brands. The MAST program works across the country to provide individuals with employability skills needed to address India’s growing need for skilled manpower. Besides helping young people from economically backward communities to access jobs and livelihoods opportunities, it also spreads awareness about vocational training and skilling, offers entrepreneurship opportunities, empowers thousands of young people with hands-on skills,  and places them in jobs.

The MAST program begins with a labor market scan in each region, working closely with employers to develop the market-aligned training curricula that forms the heart of the program’s skills training. The skilling course combines foundational, workforce readiness skills with industry-specific skills, ranging from retail, basic IT, healthcare to hospitality, creating multi-sector job opportunities for marginalized young people. Upon completion of the training, qualified candidates are placed into entry-level jobs, thus creating a path to financial independence.

One of the severe fallouts of the Covid-19 crisis has been salary cuts by employers, and Archana’s father was facing a cut in his pay. Archana’s only ray of hope was that she was retained by her employer, and her earnings could help the family survive through the lockdown. AIF’s MAST program is supporting vulnerable young people, especially young  women, to make a decent living. When a person gets skilled, not only their life stature changes but, it also carves a stable path for the coming generations to be living in a better condition.

As Director of Communications and Advocacy, Rowena Kay Mascarenhas holds the global responsibility for overseeing the development and implementation of AIF’s marketing, communications, and advocacy strategies across the Head Office, Country Office and Regional Offices.

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