India finds itself in a context today where more and more young people are entering the workforce every year. It is critical to improve their employability in order to make the most of the demographic dividend. AIF’s Market Aligned Skills Training program has built the skills of over 120,000 disadvantaged youth across India.
“Skills-training from MAST has brought a sea-change in my personality. My IT and communications skills have helped me get a job as a sales-person at ZARA in Noida,” says an excited Ajay, as he talks about the transformation that AIF’s Market Aligned Skills Training (MAST) has brought in his life.
A year ago Ajay was a high school grad, struggling to find ways to support his family. His chances of securing a decent job seemed very dim. He was determined to reduce the burden of financial responsibility that his father had been carrying solely for the last eighteen years as a freelance music teacher, the meager income it generated was never enough to support their family of five.
Ajay’s determination found a ray of hope in AIF’s MAST program that empowers disadvantaged youth in India with the knowledge and skills needed for employment and success (SDG 8). Developing their skills for IT, retail, hospitality, automotive and electric sector, MAST ensures that unemployed youth receive an equal opportunity for respectable and sustainable livelihoods (SDG 10). MAST not only ensures that it creates a workforce of skilled professionals in India, but also transforms them into confident individuals, willing to take up challenges for their personal and professional growth. “I cleared my interview at ZARA in one go. I am now supporting my family,” says Ajay with pride and a sense of satisfaction.
A key focus of the MAST skills training is to groom candidates in soft skills for successful interpersonal interactions in the work environment. “My work depends on my interactions with customers. The communications skills developed through MAST training have made it easier for me to make a good rapport with customers, as I assist in making their shopping experience easy and smooth,” adds Ajay as he talks about the biggest take-away from MAST’s skills training.
Since its inception MAST has created 89, 804 jobs and trained 119,739 disadvantaged youth across 202 centers in India.