Babita Rana from Hadiyana village in Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand dreamed of a college education and a job in the city. She lost her father when she was 15 years old, and without the head of the family, they hit upon hard times. The nearest town that had a college was 50 kms away, and after completing high school, Babita made the long commute to college for two years before she was forced to drop out. Long distances, poor connectivity of public transport, and a difficult mountainous terrain made it difficult for youth like Babita to further their education and find decent jobs.
Babita learned of AIF’s Market Aligned Skills Training (MAST) program through a community mobilization activity. Though not closer to her home than the college, it assured her of skills that would lead to an income for herself and her family. “I learned to create attractive utility products from recycled denim, along with other skills. I plan to return to my village and share these skills with other youth, so that they are self-sufficient too. Thanks to AIF’s MAST program, we don’t need to travel long distances anymore. With these skills, we can earn an income wherever we are.”, says Babita.
AIF’s MAST program provides underprivileged youth with skills training and access to formal employment opportunities to help India seize the opportunity for inclusive growth. Having trained more than 122,000 young people for more than a decade, AIF has begun expanding and extending its MAST model into remote rural areas, where youth are trained in skills that will empower them to be self-starters in income earnings.
India’s unique demographic characteristics demands that customized solutions be devised—to ensure that skills development systems deliver both the quantity and the quality of training needed. Soon, India will be home to the largest demographic of working age like Babita, which if leveraged properly, has the potential transform the country into an economic power. Faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth can only be made possible by a highly skilled workforce. Skills development is more critical than ever.
The MAST program gives hope to people like Babita Rana, helping them to build their foundation skills and gain important workplace skills for a successful transition from school to work. Soon to be home to one-fifth of the world’s working age population, India’s path to becoming a high-performance nation is certainly going to be shaped by its ability, at scale, to impart market-relevant skills to its youth and MAST is helping to close the gap.