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India is facing an employment crisis. More than 50% of the population is under 25 years old, resulting in over 300 million people entering the workforce in the next 15 years. However, few have the skills, information, and networks to succeed in today's workplace - the 'demographic disaster.' This leads to high unemployment, increasing inequality, and violence and unrest. Globally, 42% of the world's population is under 25 (~3.2 billion people). In the north and eastern part of India, where Medha's work has focused, the problem is compounded. Students come from Hindi-medium, under-resourced schools, and have limited exposure to the workplace. Young people also face significant family and social pressure to pursue certain kinds of jobs, or in the case of many young women, not work at all. In Uttar Pradesh, where Medha is headquartered, the female labor force participation is an appalling 11%. While job opportunities have developed slowly, growth in India's smaller cities and towns has accelerated. There, employers face two significant challenges: 1) finding people with the right skills, and 2) retaining those people over the medium and long term.
Medha provides employability skills training, career counselling, and ongoing placement and alumni support to youth. We partner with government educational institutions to deliver our program on-campus. Through this approach and its impact, Medha influences policy from the inside-out, mainstreaming its model into the existing education system, impacting millions of youth in the long-run. Our adoption at scale approach comprises of: 1) Quality facilitators: Medha utilizes a mix of full-time trained Student Relationship Managers (SRMs) and government faculty members to deliver a combination of employability skills development, career counseling, and mentorship that is currently unavailable at all but a select few institutions. 2) Workplace exposure/experience: A diverse set of employers and entrepreneurs interact directly with students on-and-off campus through career talks, mock interviews, and exposure visits. 3) Alumni communities: We bring a powerful online and offline network of diverse alumni to an education system that traditionally doesn't keep in touch with former students. This peer support is extremely valuable for young people from low-income backgrounds who have limited access to resources, connections, and information. We are confident this approach works because 1) we have improved employment, employability, and life skills for over 20,000 students since we started and 2) we are collaborating with multiple state governments across different levels of the education system to further integrate and mainstream our programming and approach, demonstrating strong buy-in and demand from the public sector for the work we do and the impact it delivers.