Three years ago, when Kartikeya Misra took charge as the District Magistrate of East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, he was flooded with applications from youths seeking jobs. “I knew there were a number of jobs available in the market but somehow the companies were unable to find these youths and these youngsters didn’t find the jobs they wanted,” says the 38-year-old, who joined the civil service in 2009.
“The resumes of these youths were sketchy, they did not have clarity on the skills required for a particular job. Some of them wanted to be self-employed, but didn’t know where to start. I wanted to do something to bridge the gap, to connect these jobless youths to employment opportunities,” the officer says.
So in May 2017, Misra started ‘Kaushal Godavari’, a skill development initiative “to harness the potential of youth of East Godavari and make them self reliant by helping them earn their livelihood and become responsible citizens”.
On August 21, Misra was among 15 district magistrates to be honoured with the The Indian Express Excellence in Governance Awards that celebrated the finest work done by DMs across the country.
“The crux really lies in making demand and supply match. There are many jobs available in the Rs 10,000-20,000 per month bracket, and for that companies have to look here and there. What we did is that we brought it together in one place,” Misra said after receiving the award.
As part of the project, 25,000 people in the 18-35 age group were offered training through short-term skill development courses and provided placements. So far, nearly 18,000 of these youths have found jobs in around 200 companies in the country and abroad.
“If 10 or more people request for training for a particular skill, we arrange for it. Drone operation, fruit and vegetable carving, earth-moving machine operation, filing GST returns… We are imparting all kinds of training,” says V N Rao, project director of Kaushal Godavari.
At Foxconn, the mobile and electronics manufacturing giant at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district, young women from Chinturu, a remote tribal area in East Godavari district, trained under the Kaushal Godavari programme work on the assembly lines. Most women here come from extremely poor households and say the training changed their lives or else “we would have been married off”.
Nearly 1,000 people, including 700 women, from tribal communities such as Kondareddy and Koyas in Chinturu have got jobs after being trained under Kaushal Godavari.
Speaking of how the programme “changed our lives”, Chinturu tehsildar P Tejeshwara Rao says, “The people here are very conservative and do not usually send their daughters out to work to distant places. But the officials convinced the youths here, especially those who had passed Class 10 and 12, to attend the training camp. Many girls from our area now work in mobile companies and earn up to Rs 10,000 a month. They also send money back home, which is very helpful since most families here are very poor.”
Initially, training is provided to youths to become air-conditioner and television technicians, desktop publishers and welders, says Chandra Reddy, the skill development in-charge at the DM’s office. “We would request an experienced AC technician or welder to train the youths. We also provided motivational talks. Most of the courses are short-term – one week to 15 days. So far, we have helped about 2,600 people to become self-employed,” he says.
At the Kaushal Godavari building inside the District Collectorate in East Godavari, a batch of 60 young men and women are waiting to receive their certificates in networking analysis from HCL – the company trained them free of cost and will now employ at least 20 candidates. In another room, two youths who pursued a refresher course to become priests are being guided about their trip to Dallas, US, where they will be working at a temple. “My training included computer skills, basic English and grammar, driving… All skills required in the US,” says B Shrikant, one of the two men.
Kakinada Rural MLA P Anantha Lakshmi believes the initiative has given youths a “successful job platform”. “The programme is helping youths figure out skills they need to get a job. People can also register online by giving their education qualifications, type of training they would like to do, and their job preference. They have stopped coming to me with job applications; they directly go to Kaushal Godavari now,” she says.