Mahatma Gandhi had a dream. More than three score years ago, he had a vision for India to see it as an independent nation; not only as a geographical entity but in a manner where the youth of the nation were entitled to independence in all aspects- personal, professional, and cultural.
In 1932, Mahatma Gandhi set up the Harijan Sevak Sangh, an organisation that aimed at providing vocational training to the 'harijan' youth. Even today, at the Gandhi ashram in north Delhi, you can visit the simple cottage that Kasturba Gandhi lived in, affectionately referred to as the 'Ba Kutir'. Over the years, the ashram has receded from the public spotlight, although the Harijan Sevak Sangh continued to dedicate itself to social work across the country.
To honor the Gandhian vision and give a new lease of life to the initiative, Tech Mahindra Foundation partnered with Harijan Sevak Sangh to revive the original vision of Mahatma Gandhi to work towards developing skills that could truly be of service to humanity at large.
In 2016, the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare came to life with the aim to empower youth by equipping them with skills that would enable employment. The academy is located within a building that dates from 1936, and unlike the heritage facade, is equipped with the latest hospital equipment and software.
A government report in 2012 stated that in order to meet its needs, India requires an additional 64 lakh allied health professionals. At the same time, there is a growing population of Indians under the age of 30 who are in urgent need of jobs, but lack the necessary skills to be immediately employable in the market. With these dual needs in mind, the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare was launched in New Delhi in May 2016.
The academy’s infrastructure comprises the state of the art machinery and equipment along with highly qualified and well-trained teachers and staff. The academy offers many diploma and certificate courses. Diploma courses include Dialysis Technician, Medical Records Technology, X-ray & Imaging Technology, Medical Lab Technician and Operation Theatre Technician. The certificate courses are Hospital Front Office & Billing Executive, Emergency Medical Technician, General Duty Assistant, Home Health Aide and the newly started Japa Nurse. The Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare have top-notch laboratories which replicate hospital conditions. Students are trained on procedures using mannequins and are given exposure visits to hospitals right from the start of their courses. Towards the end of the course, all students undergo a mandatory on-job training in leading hospitals, where they are expected to work as per industry expectations. Further, they are also supervised by the Academy faculty during their on-job training.
One of the key components of the SMART academy has been its emphasis on soft skills and English. Irrespective of the course chosen, all students receive training in spoken English and ‘workplace readiness’ which prepares the trainees for the demands of professional life.
The Academy also has a dedicated team of professionals who looks after the placement of students. The students have been placed in many distinguished hospitals of Delhi including Sir Gangaram Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital, Moolchand Hospital, etc. Teaching at the SMART Academy is centered on the basic tenet of ‘learning by doing’. Along with theory, students are given practical training through real-life simulations and role play exercises. Our curricula have been developed specifically for the Academies, keeping in mind the latest requirements in the job-market for each sector.
The emphasis at the Academy is on quality and all round training, which lays the foundation of life-long learning as a powerful way to tap into potential employment opportunities for youth. Continuous upgradation, self-improvement and strong processes are part of the Academies core philosophy.
India has one of the youngest population in the world and will be the nation’s biggest asset for the next 3-4 decades. However, a significant percentage of the youth today are illiterate, unskilled or under qualified. If India has to find its rightful place in the world, one of the most important focus areas will have to be empowering its youth through proper and focused skilling. Considering the size of the task, it cannot be the responsibility of the government alone but of all stakeholders, including corporates, NGOs and individuals of influence.