Raza Is Taking Small Steps Towards Building A Life He Wants
At around 471 million, India has one of the largest workforces in the world. And this workforce is quite young — the average age is 29 years. Most of these youth are employed in blue-collar trades.
One of four siblings, Muhammad Ehtesham Raza comes from an economically weak family. His mother is a homemaker, while his father was a daily wage labourer and died 8 years ago. The family lives in Annasandrapalya — a small ghetto flanked between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.'s estates in Bangalore. Allegorical in a way. Alongside the accelerated modernization of India's cities and industry, the percentage of people in informal employment has increased with equal fervour. More than 70% of young people in India's workforce are employed in the informal economy like construction, agriculture and service sectors. Engineering, telecommunications, robotic sectors etc. are specialized, niche and often inaccessible.
Raza completed his high school education last year during the pandemic. He tried hard to get a job so he could support his family, but was unsuccessful. “It was difficult for me to get a job as I have only completed my SSLC", he says. Raza is one of millions of students who discontinue — sometimes by choice, sometimes by circumstance — formal education and seek employment. There is an growing need to equip young people with skills that enable them to join and sustain themselves in the fast-changing labour market.
"I came to know about the course at APSA during a mobilization drive in the community, and I enrolled at the training centre for course on Computer Applications”, shares Raza. The Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA) is a community development organization working in Bangalore and Hyderabad that has partnered with us under the MyQuest program. They are helping us skill 400 young people in the two cities.
“The course and Quest App helped me learn many things — communication skills, how to check and compose emails, how to use the internet well, how to prepare for a job interview etc." says Raza excitedly. He now works at Abu Nizam Maulvi’s shop as a sales assistant. He also offers Arabic language classes for children aged 5-8 years, allowing him to earn enough to be able to contribute to the household expenses and support his mother.
It might seem insignificant but it's these core skills and confidence that we want young people to gain as they start out their careers. Beyond short-term employment needs, we want them to be able to learn throughout life in a context of increasing labour market instability and rapid technological change.