“The woods are lovely, dark and deep…but I have promises to keep…and miles to go before I sleep.” This line by Robert Frost finds deep resonance with the journeys of some young boys and girls in the country, who serve as torchbearers for their peers, despite all odds. The author encapsulates her interactions with some of these youth.
Wings to fly – the gift of training
“We are three sisters and a brother. With a total monthly household income of Rs 30,000, there were, understandably, many unfulfilled dreams,” says 24-year-old Sandhya Gupta, who decided to enroll herself for a 320 hours course as a retail trainee associate at the IL&FS Institute of Skills, Delhi. Why this particular course? Reminisces a determined Sandhya: “Being an introvert, I always wanted to improve my public dealing skills; this was my aspiration, and I understood then that retail would be the best option for me.”
The intensive course covered the nuances of the retail sector, including technical know-how, life skills and communication. Currently engaged by Shoppers Stop, Sandhya does not only feel confident but feels empowered in the true sense of the word: “As soon as I completed my course, I was provided employment with a big retail brand.” Does she think she has already achieved her goal? “Not at all! I have miles to traverse. I want to work with an international brand… lead by example… I love to bring smiles to the faces of people by helping them make the best possible choice for themselves, which, I believe, is also one of the most important aspects of this sector!”
Harsha Vardhan, who is a Trainer at the center, summarises the essence of the course: “This particular course engages people’s skills, for which analytical, inter-personal and problem-solving attributes are vital. Role plays through real-life scenarios, coupled with interactive multimedia content, help students comprehend, recall and retain better. Learning is imparted through active experimenting, unlearning and relearning. Another important aspect is proper counselling; without this important aspect, drop-out rates can be high, owing to improper match of the course (shortlisted) to the aspirations, expectations and personality of the prospective candidate.”
Mastering Skill: An exhilarating journey
From mastering a skill to heading his own business… an exhilarating journey Ram Gopal Sahu poses proudly in front of his own ‘business’ in Chhattisgarh. “Whatever I earned was never enough; I just did not have a sense of direction on how to earn enough money,” says Ram. Through a friend, he learnt about the BALCO-sponsored skills center in Korba, Chhattisgarh, and was enrolled for a 45-day training as an electrician. On the completion of the training, he was placed at Texmo Industries, manufacturers of submersible pumps, at Coimbatore.
However, the challenges were many. “The amount of confidence I gained, with the passage of time, was really phenomenal: from someone who knew nothing about the trade, to someone who had mastered different types of pump winding. However, I was called home. I left my job but wondered what next. ”
Ram did not have to wait long, thanks to the fact that his village did not have an able electrician! “There was a lot of demand, but no competent services. I set up my own pump and appliance workshop in my village. I make around Rs 30,000 per month. This gift of training and specialization has been a life changer!” says Ram.
I care… the secret to success
“Your customer does not care how much you know until they know how much you care,” or “Customers never wanted social service, they wanted to be treated right the first time,” or “The Secret to success is to treat all customers as if your world revolves around them.” The crux is that happy customers make for happy businesses. Having said that, customer service is a field high on people-to-people connect, which can be demanding and challenging. Many say that life, social, soft or peoples skills is inherent to a person’s personality – something inborn… something which cannot be inculcated…but definitively polished.
Twenty-year-old Shahida Ahmed has completed her intermediate. From a friend, she learnt about skills training, and the need for the same, and its prospects. She promptly visited the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra located in South Delhi’s Okhla Industrial Area. “The centre served as a huge source of inspiration for me. I was counselled thoroughly in order to ensure that the ‘course and I were in alignment’.
The fact that the course content was streamlined in close accordance with the industry’s demands, Shahida was able to secure a job opportunity almost immediately post the completion of her course. Says she: “I am now able to help support my family, save for my sister’s education and marriage, and also maintain a decent lifestyle. What’s more, I serve as an inspiration for other members of my community.”
I am the change I want to see
“There was just about enough money to keep the family afloat. With no skill, I lacked a sense of direction. I learnt about the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna, and was excited to discover how this could help change my life—the number of courses being offered, the orientation towards the respective industries, and the practical application of the learnt matter. An additional pull was the subsequent placement guarantee.
The customer care executive course is like a lab, buzzing with real-life scenarios, role plays, exercises that enhance communication and problem-solving skills, and much more. It makes one industry ready,” says 22-year-old Shivam Pandey. In his own words, his training helped him sustain his family and encouraged him to live-up to the motto: “Always more. Always better.” He was recently awarded the best performer title at his current place of work! From a young boy, who was clueless about where life was taking him, to a youth who stood up and took charge of his own destiny, Shivam has traversed a challenging course, determined to be a torchbearer for hope and hard work.
The author is a writer, consultant-communications/media outreach and soft skills trainer.