SEDI Women Trainees Turns Frontline Warriors

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Skill and Entrepreneurship Development is an initiative by Ambuja Cement Foundation that trains young people across rural India to provide jobs in different industries leading to a decent livelihood. Providing theoretical and practical courses through its reputed training centres, SEDI (Skill and Entrepreneurship Development Institutes) promote productive employment and micro-enterprise courses for the rural youth to uplift them out of poverty.

It was an opportunity when SEDI Surat got a call from placement partner hospitals requesting them to immediately send ex-trainees from the General Duty Assistant (GDA) Course to assist their medical staff in the current times. While many frontline staff members were leaving their jobs, especially those from hospitals, Assistant Medical Employees were an urgent requirement for hospitals in Surat, Gujarat. 27 ladies who were ex-trainees stood up to immediately offer their skills to fight the virus together. They were placed in 10 hospitals across Surat.

80 per cent of these girls belong to the tribal community while the rest of them are from lower-income groups. With jobs at stake due to the pandemic, these women are now able to at least support their families by earning an income of Rs 8,000 p/m

Initially, the parents of these girls were reluctant to send their children for the job fearing they will contract the virus or fall prey to any mishap. Many of the youth who enrol at SEDI have never left their villages before and are not comfortable to work in new places alone. For this reason, ACF places graduates in groups with similar backgrounds so that they can support one another and share resources. The SEDI team was continuously in touch with the parents and trainees convincing them and explaining the avenue of opportunities available for them. Sometimes they even arrange for doctors of these hospitals to speak to the parents about the arrangements made for the girls, including an ambulance service for pick up and drop. “We have been working for the past four months, and till today, the hospitals have seen to it that we are safe and virus free. They have explained all the precautionary measures which need to be followed at home too,” says Komal Mourya, ex-trainee, GDA Course, SEDI.

80 per cent of these girls belong to the tribal community while the rest of them are from lower-income groups. With jobs at stake due to the pandemic, these women are now able to at least support their families by earning an income of Rs 8,000 per month. Since their communities are at a distance, most of the girls live in hospital accommodation and are provided with basic amenities. “We are very satisfied here at the hospital. We are proud that we can finally put our skill to the test and help the doctors here. Previously our family situation was also low due to limited income, but I am now able to support my family with my salary,” says Tejal Khalasi, a placed student of SEDI.

The General Duty Assistant Course which provides jobs in Nursing and Bed Assistance conducts a six-month practical and theoretical training to the students. 172 trainees have completed the GDA course from SEDI Surat. The Course offers trainees sufficient knowledge to grasp the job quickly and also provide loyalty and honesty. 35 per cent trainees in this course are also male students placed in different hospitals. “The course at SEDI is so good that we believe to be on the same level as a General Nursing and Midwifery staff. That’s how much SEDI has trained us through this course,” says Tejal. Such courses are made aware to the communities through frequent village meets by mobilisers, alumni support and night meetings with parents.

Ranging between the age-group of 20-25 years, these girls went through career counselling classes and were encouraged to join SEDI and pick up a skill that is based on their interests. “I was always interested in Nursing. When ACF came to my village and told us that the GDA Course is available, I was very excited and immediately enrolled for the course,” says Tejal. They are so well trained that they were able to enhance their skill and adapt to the sector be it in the Gynaecology Ward, Orthopaedic Ward or Physician Services. “I was initially placed in the General Ward where there was always a protocol to wear gloves and masks. I am now placed in the COVID Speciality Ward and this protocol is becoming easier for me to follow,” added Tejal.

Pearl Tiwari
Director and CEO, Ambuja Cement Foundation
“We have a large bank of partners across all our centres so that the trainees are rightly placed, and we build a relationship with the organisations. We frequently send trainees for on-the-job training so that they are well versed with the work and understand it thoroughly before taking up a new job.”

SEDI frequently organises placement meets, employers meet and industrial visits so that the trainees get such employment opportunities from reputed organisations. Placement and Knowledge Partners are always invited to review the syllabus and advise on any change to be made based on market requirement. Concerning group placements, ACF initiates dialogues with placement partners to take two or more graduates at a time so that they are comfortable with each other; and their commitment shows in the work they do. Sometimes, a group of 20-22 students are sent at a time for employment or on-the-job training. The Placement Officer also meets with the partners and HR Department to understand the performance of the trainees and provide feedback on the continuously changing market requirement. 

SEDI trainees have always been awarded and are appreciated for their hard work by the hospital staff and management. “At SEDI we have been trained in computer skills, soft skills and professional behaviour. Thus, we know how to respond to our seniors, maintain confidentiality and follow work etiquettes,” says Rangita Chaudhari, one of the placed trainees. These girls have also been going forward to encouraging women and ladies in their communities to enrol in SEDI courses or attend a career counselling session. “SEDI became our second home. Even after having completed my course, I still visit the Centre and provide any kind of support they require. If possible, I will enrol for some advanced course in future,” says Komal.

Though the SEDI is temporarily shut due to the virus, the team provides online training through digital mechanisms. Mobilisers, placement officers and trainers are continuously finding different opportunities to train and place the current trainees. 

Started in 2018 in Surat, the SEDI Centre has provided 313 graduates in courses like Bedside Assistance, Refrigeration and Air Condition Repairing, Sewing Machine Operator and Tally ACE Executive. “When I came to SEDI, I had very low self-esteem. I did not believe in myself and thought I could not become anything in life. SEDI has boosted my morale and helped me and my family achieve such great heights. I am proud of where I am today. When I got my first salary, my parents were overwhelmed with happiness as I am now earning my own money and becoming independent,” says Komal emotionally. 

Till date, SEDI has trained 65,000 youth with a placement rate of 74 per cent from 33 centres in 11 States. From the total trainees, about 3895 trainees are women who are involved in male-dominated trades with a stable income and a secured future.