In a post-COVID world with rapidly changing scenarios and fast-emerging on-ground challenges, ensuring our solutions are both scalable and relevant to communities becomes increasingly vital. Quest Alliance Invites civil society and non profit organizations across regions to join our collaborative efforts to bring real and meaningful change to the lives of young people.
In the spirit of collaborative solutioning, Quest Alliance has planned a series of regional consultations on school-to-work transitions that equip young people for the 21st century workplace. These consultations are intended to provide space for dialogues and collaborative action contextualized to opportunities and challenges pertaining to each region. The first of these consultations was held in Guwahati in November 2021, with events planned in Gujarat and Jharkhand later this year.
When Quest Alliance began working in the North-East (NE) region in 2016, a number of consultations were co-organized with partners working with young people to help identify the particular challenges young people in the region face in building meaningful careers and futures. Along with future areas of work, the need for continuous collaboration was also identified. Thus, the North-East Sustainability Collaborative was formed in 2017, with the aim to harness experiences and insights from different organizations to find solutions to the distinctive development challenges in this region. Subsequent consultations continued to inform focus areas of intervention in the region.
The North East Regional Consultation 2021 brought together 36 representatives from 16 civil society organizations operating in five States - Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur. The consultation process began with understanding the context and factors that impact young people and employability in the region.
A high dropout rate in schools, augmented by poor infrastructure and connectivity in the hilly regions makes access to quality education a challenge. The region also faces an issue of child labour, with many children being pushed into helping their parents in the tea gardens. Youth unemployment is also a key challenge, with a lack of opportunities within the region leading to a significant outward migration as youth pursue job opportunities in other states. Socio-political unrest, ethnic disputes and incidents of violence within the region also affect young people’s access to fulfilling career opportunities and futures.
The dialogues during the consultation were instrumental in building a shared understanding of key patterns of these factors over the past decade. They also led to the emergence of clear priorities and critical areas of work going forward:
Imparting 21st century skills and sparking an entrepreneurial mindset will potentially help youth navigate their way to income generating activities, and also create a pool of local opportunities for their peers.
The creation of ‘green’ jobs and capitalizing on indigenous knowledge and skills to promote and create local jobs and livelihood opportunities, while preserving the rich flora and fauna that exist in the region.
Contextualizing employability policies and programs to the ground realities of the region.
Engaging key actors and stakeholders across the school-to-work spectrum will provide impetus to building a systems change approach that can bring real impact to the future of work and learning.
The consultation also identified Research and Advocacy, Innovation, and Capacity Building of stakeholders as areas where Quest Alliance could provide additional support. In response to this, Quest’s Research team is in the process of understanding and mapping out the youth aspirations in the region, while the Advocacy team is focusing on bringing together bodies and individuals who have invested in the development of the region. The Capacity Building team is keen to weave a network of like-minded organizations in the region and build local change leaders, while the Innovations team is working on curating, scaling and strengthening the capacity of organizations. In the future, the Innovations team also aspires to create a space for partners to ideate, find new opportunities and forge linkages so that they can function as an innovation hub for the region.
Since 2016, Quest Alliance has worked with NGOs and state governments in the Northeast region, and reached out to 17,000 young people - over 70% of them have either been placed in companies or have opted to start their own enterprise. Our work has reached over 1,000 schools and 700 Industrial Training Institutes. Our projects as well as partnerships with other nonprofit organizations have helped us leave an impact on over one million learners.
Our next regional consultations are scheduled for Jharkhand (April 2022) and Gujarat (May 2022). Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to join these events.