Antarang envisions a world where every young person is productively, positively and passionately engaged in a vocation of their choice.
Priya Agrawal and Lopa Gandhi have worked extensively with adolescents from low income settlements. The gap between education and employment was a big one to bridge - and without employment education seemed meaningless and added to the frustration of youth from these disadvantaged communities. Youth tended to drop out and meander aimlessly at the vulnerable 16 - 18 year age group. Thus was born an intervention that looked at specific career outcomes that gave purpose and direction to their lives.
Antarang started with a pilot group of 20 youth from slums across Mumbai in a 6 weekend intervention. The success of that pilot and the resultant placement of >50% of youth from that group slowly led to more groups and more partnerships.
Priya Agrawal has held key leadership roles in the social sector, having headed organisations like The Akanksha Foundation and SNEHA in the past.
Antarang Foundation is a registered not-for-profit organisation that works with disadvantaged young adults. Through structured interventions, they motivate young people to stay in education until they are 18, after which, they train them in employability skills and place them in careers of their choice. They do this through two career focused programmes CareerAware and CareeReady.
Their CareeReady programme is a career readiness and employability skills training programme for youth in the age group of 18 - 25 years. Students undergo a well-defined regiment of development and training. The program consists of 5 key aspects spread over different sessions: Career awareness, Self-awareness, Work skills, Work ethics and Business spoken English.
CareeReady groups in the communities are a mix of adolescents with different educational backgrounds - some may be school dropouts, others may be pursuing their 12th or beyond. Different techniques are used to keep the batch engaged given the inconsistent educational backgrounds. Several batches of CareerReady Programme are run simultaneously across multiple locations in Mumbai. Keeping this diversity in mind, facilitators or trainers use a 'Buddy System' which enhances learning as well as boosts confidence.
Rather than a one-way dialogue, all concepts are explained with the help of role plays and various activities. Students are also encouraged to work on projects in groups. They support interactive style of learning rather than a lecture/authority style of delivery. They believe in the concept of 'Do and Learn' and therefore, promote self-learning to develop critical thinking skills and retain knowledge that leads to self-actualisation. Trainers also use audio-visual aids as and when required to introduce an element of fun!
The CareerAware program
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" is at once an exciting and terrifying question for any teenager or young adult. At this stage, it is the awareness of options, the ability to make an informed choice and the process of charting out a career path that motivates adolescents and young adults to stick to education, and set career goals.
In India, the Right to education ends at the age of 14, and only 1 in 2 children complete high school. The ratio of students in higher education is sadly even lower. Every school drop-out is prone to high risk behaviour, and usually end up in informal employment, characterised by low wages and no benefits.
To break this cycle, Antarang introduced the CareerAware program. The program targets students who fall in the crucial 14 - 17 years age bracket. Through intensive self awareness, career awareness and career planning sessions, CareerAware encourages teenagers to stay in education until they are 18 years old. By emphasising on the number and quality of options that become available only if they stay in education, CareerAware reinforces the importance of education in young minds.