India has over 350 million young adults who are in working age (15 years - 29 years of age); 30% of who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). Further, less than 25% of them will make the transition to higher secondary education or technical education - a significantly smaller number of young women than young men. There are 3 significant reasons for this sharp drop as evidenced by the work that Antarang has been doing since 2013:
1. A lack of awareness of opportunities and the pathways to get there
2. A lack of resources and skills to take advantage of career opportunities
3. A lack of access to opportunities that would help vulnerable young adults build meaningful careers that would break the intergenerational cycle of poverty that their families were caught in.
Young women are especially vulnerable. The Labour Force Participation rate for young women, especially from urban low income communities, is less than 20%. Lack of financial independence, lack of agency to access the employment marketplace due to the lack of awareness of opportunities is even more underscored when it comes to young women.
The current COVID crisis has highlighted the gaps even further - the successive lockdowns, loss of jobs, reduced public transport, health, food and income insecurity and a deterioration of mental health thanks to anxiety around all of the above has resulted in a severe loss of mobility and access leading to a further decrease in the ability of marginalised young adults to access the employment marketplace.
In light of this crisis and the continuing exclusion of marginalised young adults, providing access to local employment opportunities and continuing to help these aspirational young adults stay relevant is even more critical. Our insights point to the need for investing in building agency and resilience doubly now - as marginalised young not only need to start believing that they too have their place in mainstream career opportunities but also be able to survive this crisis that has dealt a severe blow to them.
Until now, Antarang has focussed on building the cognitive and critical thinking muscle of young adults to change mindsets and build agency. The COVID crisis has highlighted the need to address their emotional resilience and deep-seated fears in addition to building their awareness of self, careers, work skills and work ethics to bring about change in mindsets that would be sustained.
Founded in 2012 by Priya Aggarwal, Antarang Foundation works with marginalized youth from urban, high risk communities in Mumbai to assist their transition from education to employment. Antarang’s core philosophy is one that believes that collaborative effort is imperative to bring about large scale and sustained impact for youth, hence it has been working towards an ecosystem development approach by working with multiple stakeholders. Through its CareerAware, CareerReady and CareerCampus model it is an integrated, aggregated full stack employability model that provides all the necessary support and scaffolding for young adults to access economic opportunities and exhibit both economic and social mobility. Priya Aggarwal is a strong leader, with 25 years of experience, 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 3rd grant to Antarang Foundation will enable 860 adolescents and young people in the age group of 15 to 21 (475 females 385 males) from socially and economically vulnerable populations to have access to career development related services to career development information and engagement in seeking career opportunities. Due to the web of social and systemic 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 which will work as a hybrid model and will achieve the following objectives through EMpower’s proposed grant:
- At the student level: A online+physical safe space for adolescents to access career/ education/ future related resources
- At the organisational level: Integrate social-emotional learning to achieve employment outcomes.
- At the community level: Focus the attention of the local industry as well as the community to the need to foster local employment opportunities.
Primary Location: Mumbai, India
Funded Since: 2018
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