The World Bank Systematic Country Diagnostic for India in 2018 shows that 30.8% of India’s population aged 15-29 are NEETs (Not in Education, employment or training). These teenagers and young adults are the invisible populations in the country who are neither aware of the range of opportunities available nor have the ability to access them. The Census of India (2011) findings show that adolescents from the poorer strata of society are not in the labor force due to lack of resources, skills, familial constraints, gender inequality, and their poor economic conditions, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty, social ills, and ill-health. High-school education in India does not equip students with skills to get jobs or earn a livelihood in the formal workforce. A non-conducive educational environment and a lack of positive role models for young people living in slum environments limit the career aspirations of youth and their ability to improve their livelihood opportunities. As a result, many families living in poverty see little value in investing in their child’s education and 39.4% of girls and 35% of boys drop out of school even before their high school graduation.
Girls living in the slum communities, where Antarang works, are first-generation learners and have limited access to vocational training skills. Of those who work, most follow their mothers and at a very young age are pigeonholed into exploitative jobs in the informal sector as domestic helpers, cleaners and daily wage workers as they lack any exposure to other potential job opportunities. In addition, a substantial number of youth in Mumbai slums are migrants from other states who lack documents of identity and city residence that further curtails their ability to find work in the formal sector. Antarang endeavors to mainstream such vulnerable young adults from the urban poor populations in India through its integrated local “Career Campus” model that brings together all the resources that enable vulnerable adolescents’ transition from education to economic empowerment.
Founded in 2012 by Priya Agarwal, Antarang Foundation works with marginalized youth from urban, high-risk communities in Mumbai to assist their transition from education to employment. Antarang equips economically vulnerable youth with core employability skills. It improves the education system by providing career guidance, awareness, mentorship as well as employment opportunities and long-term support. They developed two programs for youth: the Career Aware program for in-school youth (12-16 years) which encourages them to stay in school till they complete secondary school, and the Career Ready program, which provides a 15 month training to youth (17-24 years) on life skills development, technical skills training, business communication, supplemented by career guidance, mentorship, internship and placement assistance. Priya Aggarwal is a strong leader, with 25 years of experience: 10 in advertising and market research and 15 in civil society. Before founding Antarang, she led educational initiatives at Akanksha Foundation as COO and served as a Senior Advisor to EMpower grantee partner Aangan Trust in 2010. She was awarded an Ashoka Fellowship in 2015 for her work to provide career linkages to youth from low-income backgrounds who are at a high risk of dropping out of the education stream and falling into the informal exploitative sector. Antarang received the Guidestar accreditation in 2015.
EMpower’s 2nd grant to Antarang Foundation will support 650 adolescents and 850 young adults from socially and economically vulnerable populations to gain access to career development-related services, become career aware and career ready and eventually enable them to make informed transitions from education to productive employment. Due to the web of social and systematic hurdles of gender and access, the pathway to employability necessitates additional steps beyond career guidance and employability skills training to reach the milestone of economic independence. Thus, Antarang Foundation is moving towards an integrated approach through its Career Campus model and will be involved in intensive parent and community engagement, partnerships with low-income schools, local NGO’s and local government bodies as well as engagement with industry and service providers to make local opportunities easily available.
Primary Location: Mumbai, India
Funded Since: 2018
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