Medha is a training and internship program based in Uttar Pradesh, India, that connects students to the job market. It focuses on improving the employability of youth through real-life and simulated activities, assignments, and analysis. It includes 30 hours of classroom and non-classroom activities, and 150 hours of on-the-job training. Medha has worked hard to get local governments and college boards to incorporate career-related skills into their curriculum and maintain a student-centered approach to education. Medha currently works with 30 different employers and 35 educational institutions and has placed approximately half of their employability program graduates into jobs. Medha owes part of its success to persistence with the universities and employers. While the program does offer important employability training that blends soft and technical skills, it also plays a key role in linking students with employers and bridging the chasms in communication between employers and education providers.
In addition to improving the employability of youth, Medha has also made meaningful strides in breaking gender stereotypes. According to their experience, nearly 70 percent of students enrolled in college are young women, and they make up a large number of students in the organization’s purview. Cultural norms restricting women’s economic mobility have posed a challenge not just for the girls, but also for potential employers. For example, Eureka Forbes was hesitant to hire women as door-to-door sales representatives, given that such jobs are not considered suitable for women. But Medha persuaded Eureka Forbes to take on a few female Medha training program graduates as interns. These young women were able to make quick connections with stay-at-home mothers, who represent a large portion of Eureka Forbes’ clientele. Sales shot up, and the company’s apprehensions were dispelled. This is important in the Indian context because women and youth have been withdrawing from the Indian labor market. In fact, unemployment rates have increased quickly for high-skilled women: Indians with a diploma suffer particularly, with unemployment rates reaching 34.5 percent for women and 18.9 percent for men during 2009–10.*
To learn more about how entrepreneurs are tackling the education-to-employment divide, read ANDE’s “Education for the 22nd Century” report.
*Source: The International Labour Organization. “Global Employment Trends 2013: Recovering from a second jobs dip.” Accessed September 2015.