Rohini & Molly Pathak,LAHI: The Second ‘Career Fair’, an avenue for the students of Pune Municipal Corporation pursuing Vocational Skills as one of the subjects for 10th grade, was held in Pune on Tuesday, June 4th 2019. About 150 students gathered at the fair which was attended 20 prospective employers from private sector in and around Pune. The fair was jointly organized by Pune Municipal Corporation and Lend A Hand India at Tilak Smarak Mandir, a historical hall in the heart of Pune City.
The primary participants of this fair are grade XI students who are looking to pursue 80 hours of internship prescribed as a part of the vocational course requirement and grade XII students, looking for employment opportunities. The two job roles pursued by the PMC school students participating in the Career Fair are Multi Skill Technician and Sales Associate.
Besides providing a platform for students to interview, compete, and secure job or internship opportunities, spreading awareness among the parents about vocational skill education is another important objective of the Career Fair. The importance of acquiring skills along with academic qualifications needs to be understood by the parents so as to help students make informed higher education or career choices. The job fairs also helps the students in providing equal opportunity and exposure to less privileged adolescent students, especially those who belong to vernacular educational background and wish to become self-reliant by acquiring basic skills for livelihood.
Variety of employers participated in the fair such as Dominos, Forbes & Company Ltd., Jagtap Nursery, Samrudhhi Udyog, Gavran Hotel, Soham Motors & Workshop, Kaushalya Publication & Manufactures. Some of them were second time participants. During the day about 150 students interviewed and 50 of them secured job offers and 60 students enrolled for internships.
Glimpse of career fair
Most students who participated in the fair, experienced the opportunity to appear for formal interviews for the first time in their life. Events like this thus prove to be an important juncture of their careers.
Vocational Skills offering at secondary school level is a brand new approach, not only in Maharashtra but in the country. This is a part of the “Vocationalization of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education” initiative of the Central Government. Part of the budget for the initiative is provided by the Central Government.
Career Fair through students’ lens
Ashwini XI grader said, “This is moment of pride for me and my mother. I am the first girl in my entire family to wear formal Salwar suit for job interview not for marriage ceremony. I was nervous to talk to the interviewer but they made me comfortable, allowed me to speak in Marathi (her native language). My interview went well. I realized that English is important but not mandatory. Now I am feeling confident and ready for another interview”.
Prajakta has completed her XII grade and she said: “I have completed my internship at PMC’s Shambhaji Garden nursery. Now I am doing my apprenticeship in Lend A Hand India as a garden assistant. At the Career Fair, I appeared for interview with various nursery and retail firms.” She further adds that if she gets a good job opportunity she will able to postpone her marriage and have a balanced life.
Rakesh and his four friends from food processing technology were in search of part time jobs in food industry. Rakesh said, “I would like go for further studies, but due to financial restrains I am unable to pursue my bachelor’s degree in hotel management.” I have come to this Career Fair with hope that if I get some work I will be able to pursue my dream sooner”.
Avinash Dhume, founder of Kaushalya Publications says, “I find that the students are focused on sharpening their existing skills and are open to learning considering their age and backgrounds. I am looking for energetic young people for my marketing team and I hope to find them here at this Career Fair. I am confident that these students will create wonders in the sectors they will serve in because of their passion and commitment towards the skill.”
This Career Fair also showed that internships are vital to build confidence and knowledge of students regarding their vocational trade and negotiation capacity in the job market and daily life challenges. At the fair, across all the trades, students received jobs and internships through which they were able to apply their classroom knowledge into real practice.
Note: Individual names have been changed to protect identity.
(The writer Molly Pathak, works as a Consultant with Lend a Hand India and Rohini is working as a Communication Officer with Lend a Hand India.)