“I never imagined any company would hire me,” says 22-year-old Vikas from Chamle village of Bhiwandi, a town located almost 36 km away from the city of Mumbai. Vikas’ parents are farmers with a monthly income of ₹5,000. Their family of five was surviving on this. Vikas didn’t have the means to opt for a college education. “I had to look out for work instead. But with just a higher secondary degree there were no jobs available for me.” He enrolled for a diesel mechanic course with the hope to find a job, but his efforts were in vain.
Convinced that all the doors to employment are permanently closed, Vikas fell in the company of young people who whiled away their time playing cards. That is when his uncle spoke to him and informed him about the Magic Bus Livelihoods Centre at Ambadi, just 8 km away from his home. Thus, began Vikas’ journey as a part of the second batch of young persons, who underwent livelihoods training at the Macquarie-supported Magic Bus Livelihood Centre in Ambadi, a village located at Bhiwandi tehsil of Thane district, in Maharashtra.
Vikas is among the 10,000 young people who attend Magic Bus’ Livelihood programme across India. The programme that began in 2015 connects the aspirations and potential of young people to available market opportunities. In doing so, the organisation focuses on building their employability skills and maps job potential based on individual strengths and mobility.
At the Livelihood Centre, Vikas got an opportunity to plan his career. He went for counselling sessions where he spoke about his strengths and came to terms with his limitations. He took a keen interest in learning to speak in English, and in the digital and financial literacy classes. At the end of the two-month-long course, he sat for job interviews lined up by the Centre. He joined as an RO technician at a leading water treatment plant with a starting salary of ₹9,000 per month.
“I could sense a beginning at a point of my life when I had completely given up hope,” he says.
Within six months of his joining, Vikas got promoted as a team leader with four employees reporting to him. His performance earned him a place in the sales team of their water purifying products. Within a span of just four months, he sold more than 50 units of water purifiers, earning business worth four lakh rupees. It was around this time that he also received an offer to intern with Coca-Cola. It was a paid internship of ₹7,000 per month.
At present, Vikas works two jobs and earns ₹17,000 per month. “Our conditions have improved. We don’t need to worry about two square meals a day. I still see this as a beginning. I want to work more, see more of the world and do better with each job,” he signs off.
Vikas’ story is a story of hope, a face of India’s future that is largely young. In the next few years, India’s future will be written by ambitious and enterprising young persons like Vikas. And this is where the need emerges to make a young population – so large in number – ready to dream and work. In making this a reality, non-profits like Magic Bus work with various stakeholders – corporates, government entities, and the community to ensure every young person has the opportunity to work, earn, and move out of poverty.
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