Sachin, Get Into
After leaving school, Sachin studied for a diploma in mechanical engineering. Soon after he finished his course, his whole family fell ill. Sachin’s sister died in hospital and Sachin himself was seriously unwell for a year. His recovery took a further two years.
By the time Sachin, now 25, was well enough to seek work, India was in lockdown because of coronavirus. His father, an autorickshaw driver, had to stop working. The family’s savings soon ran out and they had to ask relatives for money.
Sachin lives in Khanpur with his parents and younger brother, who is still at school. Determined to find a job and help support his family, Sachin approached anyone who would help him. Twice he was cheated by fraudsters who said that if he paid them they’d find him a job. Both times, they took Sachin’s money and vanished.
Then a friend told Sachin about Magic Bus India Foundation, and that marked a turning point.
‘Without a second thought I approached the Magic Bus team at the Khanpur centre,’ Sachin recalls, ‘I remember my first day, there was a life skills class going on. I was so inspired by the trainers that I decided to join the two-month Get Into Programme.’
Get Into, run by Magic Bus with Prince’s Trust International, works with local employers to train young people from poor backgrounds for entry-level jobs, covering a mixture of general employability skills and sector-specific knowhow. It runs in 10 local centres across India.
Many of these young people, like Sachin, have parents who themselves had little or no schooling. Sharmila Subramaniam from Magic Bus describes how, although most young people now can read and write, they still lack many of the life skills they need to thrive in the modern workplace.
‘We focus on helping first generation learners become first generation earners,’ Sharmila explains. ‘We help to open their minds. They might have been born into poverty but they don’t have to live in poverty.’
The coronavirus pandemic meant that face-to-face training and work experience placements weren’t possible this year. So to give their students the best chance of finding work, Magic Bus rapidly pivoted to an online, multi-employer programme.
‘I used the Zoom app to attend the sessions on my mobile,’ explains Sachin, ‘The digital literacy sessions were my favourite.’
When the Magic Bus team told Sachin that they’d put him forward for a job with a supermarket, Sachin asked if he’d need to pay someone again to secure the job. They explained that it didn’t work like that. There would be a job interview, and the outcome would be down to him.
‘I was a little scared before the interview,’ Sachin recalls, but his training helped him through. ‘The programme had taught us how to behave in an interview, how to sit and speak and present ourselves, and how to answer questions.
‘One of the questions that came up was about how to work with Excel and I was able to answer it because of the digital literacy training we’d done.’
Sachin got the job and has now received his first pay packet. His monthly salary of 15,000 Indian Rupees (£150) is both higher and more secure than his father’s daily earnings from rickshaw fares, and will make a huge difference to his family.
‘My wages can top up my dad’s earnings and we’ll be able to do things like buy better clothes for ourselves. We’ll be able to save money too, that’s important because coronavirus wiped out all our savings, so we need to build them up again,’ Sachin explains.
‘Also, I hope that my wages will mean that my dad can have some time off. He’s 56 and he works six days a week, driving 12-14 hours every day.’
Sachin has plans to help his brother too, intending to save most of his wages from the first few months to buy his brother a laptop.
‘He’s studying for his 12th standard exams and it would really help him to have a laptop. All his classes are virtual at the moment because of coronavirus,’ Sachin explains. ‘I don’t have a laptop myself, but I don’t really need one. My brother does.’
Sachin is just one of 2,000 students to complete the Get Into programme in 2020/21. Within three months of their course, Magic Bus had successfully followed up with three quarters of their former students to track their progress. Over 80% of them, like Sachin, were in work.
‘Words aren’t enough to describe how Magic Bus and Prince’s Trust International have changed my whole life.,’ says Sachin. ‘Thanks to my trainers for always believing in me. Thank you Magic Bus for brightening my future, thank you Prince’s Trust International for being the reason I smile.’