Tech Mahindra Foundation aims at training 20,000 youths this year, Says CEO Dr. Loveleen Kacker

Loveleen took over the reins of Tech Mahindra Foundation as the Chief Executive Officer in 2012 and is currently leading a team of almost 100 associates and interns at Tech Mahindra Foundation, and thousands of volunteers across Tech Mahindra Limited.

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MUMBAI: Following the vision to create an educated, enlightened and employed India, the Tech Mahindra Foundation embarked upon its flagship initiative, the SMART programme (Skills for Market Training) in employability. Since its inception in 2012, SMART has trained close to 50,000 young men and women, and aims at training 20,000 in 2017-18 alone with 100 centres said Dr. Loveleen Kacker, CEO, Tech Mahindra Foundation, CSR arm of Tech Mahindra Limited in an interview with India CSR Network. Edited excerpts from an interview.

What is TMF and when was it established? Could you elaborate on Tech Mahindra’s role in these initiatives and highlight some of the significant work done by the company through the Foundation?

The Tech Mahindra Foundation was set up in the year 2007 by Tech Mahindra Limited. The Foundation has worked tirelessly towards the vision of empowering people through- School Education, Employability and Technical Education.

The Foundation essentially works with children and youth from urban, disadvantaged communities in India. As per the Foundation’s own mandate, 50% of all beneficiaries are girls/ young women and 10% are people with disabilities.

Tech Mahindra Foundation completed ten years this April and also witnessed the inauguration of the 100th SMART skilling centre in Mumbai in association with the Helen Keller Institute for the Deaf and Deafblind. In these ten years of service, they have been working tirelessly in the areas of education, employability and disability, with a keen focus on corporate volunteering across twelve locations in India. It has been running more than 120 projects with more than 90 partners across India. Focusing on key areas like empowerment of girls, people with disabilities and corporate volunteering the foundation aims to build professional and academic capacities of the youth in the country.

Could you name the foundation’s programmes for the youth and tell us about its reach in India?

Connecting over 14,000 associates more than 70,000 hours with its beneficiaries through a robust corporate volunteering programme, the programmes of this Foundation have been designed in a manner so as to have a long-term, sustainable impact on the direct beneficiaries, their families and communities. The Foundation’s flagship employability programme is SMART (Skills for Market Training) which currently operates 100 skilling centres in 11 cities across India. Additionally, the Foundation runs the Tech Mahindra SMART Academies in Delhi, Chandigarh and Visakhapatnam, to provide advanced skilling in healthcare, IT, design and logistics.

Could you elaborate on the SMART programme/initiative?  How many people do you aim to train by this programme this year?

Following the vision to create an educated, enlightened and employed India, the Foundation embarked upon its flagship initiative, the SMART programme (Skills for Market Training) in employability. It was initiated on the belief that educated and skilled youth are the country’s true strength. The programme began with 3 Centres in 2012, well before the Skill India initiative came into being. Tech Mahindra Foundation is currently running 100 SMART centres in 11 cities across India that include SMART centres, SMART centres  that train people with disabilities, SMART-T Centres that train people in technical trades and three SMART Academies that are state-of-the-art centres imparting high-quality vocational skills and on-the-job training.

All these initiatives closely engage with the industry stalwarts for constant curriculum up-grades and placement. Since its inception in 2012, SMART has trained close to 50,000 young men and women, and aims at training 20,000 in 2017-18 alone. KPMG did a study of the SMART programme and concluded that there is a Social Return on Investment (SROI) of Rs 13.29 for every rupee invested in SMART. SMART trainees themselves report a rise in confidence, and in the case of girls, an increase in family support for their studies and the opportunity to work. Girls who have been trained by SMART also show a delay in the age of marriage, thanks to this increased family support.

Can you tell us what kind of jobs/employment opportunities they receive post this training program and what is the placement rate?

About 70% of the graduates will be placed in jobs upon successful completion of the training, thereby filling the demand-supply gap across multiple industries and the service sector, with average salaries ranging between Rs. 8,000-12,000 per month.

Some of the notable brands employing SMART graduates include the likes of Airtel, Axis Bank, Barista, Big Bazaar, Blue Dart, Burger King, Café Coffee Day, HCL Technologies, HDFC Bank, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Docomo, among others. The belief in connectedness is what drives Tech Mahindra Foundation to light up hundreds of lives through these initiatives, providing the youth an opportunity to lead a financially secure lifestyle with an array of opportunities inaccessible to them otherwise.

How do you map their success post the programme. Are there any success stories that you would like to share?

Animesh Saha, a 26 year old lad was facing a huge challenge in getting a job due to his disability.  With a jobless father and a family to support, he was in dire need of a means to earn his livelihood. His silver lining came across in the form of Youth4Jobs, Kolkata, where he took training and finally got placed into Future Group-FBB store as a cashier. His hard work payed off when he bagged the honor of being the best employee for the month in April, 2017.

In another similar case, Rabi Mondal a 26 year old B.A. graduate, who worked as a Sales Representative at Eureka Forbes sat for a counselling session with SMART and cracked a job at Lifestyle soon after. He achieved his target of Rs. 5 lakhs in two days becoming the Employee of the month in April. He was finally able to fulfil his long pending dream of buying a bike and has been leading a lifestyle far better than his anticipation. I believe that these success stories are the result of the multiple initiatives by the Tech Mahindra Foundation, corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm run by the company.

Read more about Dr. Loveleen Kacker

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the interviewee in this feature are entirely her own and does not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.

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