There’s a whole world of knowledge that exists beyond the constraints of schools, colleges, marks and degrees. Sure, books can teach you that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell and such theoretical information which doesn’t really come handy in everyday life for the average person. What they can’t teach us is empathy, or work ethics, or teamwork, and many other such soft skills that are essential in practical work and life.

At folk, we firmly believe that degrees and marks (or, lack thereof) are not a testament to one’s skill and knowledge. Since our genesis, we have pioneered generating sustainable livelihood for individuals. Our most significant guiding principle is to be, and to make others, self-reliant and the best version of one’s self. To achieve this, one need not go through years of formal education only to end up nowhere. To this end, we have been strong advocates for vocational methods of learning that provide practical courses through which one gains
skills and experience that are directly linked to a career in future. And we are not alone in this sentiment.

We are happy to see an increasing number of companies jumping the bandwagon and changing their hiring criteria wherein academic qualifications no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door. Google has taken a step in this direction by recently launching a comprehensive digital jobs program to help Americans get back to work, break down educational barriers by prioritising skills, and support the country’s economic recovery.

We do believe that actions speak louder than words. Thus, folk has worked in
collaboration with Sarva Shiksha Mission and the National Jute Board to launch a project aimed towards imparting holistic, nurturing life and work skills to support the transition of 141 youth graduating from the State Government’s residential schools to help them achieve financial independence and empowered social integration. So far, the program has been carried out in two batches (2016 and 2019). Upon the completion of their Secondary Board Examinations, these youths would no longer be eligible to continue residing at the State-run residential institutions. Once released from institutional care, the pressing reality they are confronted with is the choice and means of livelihood. So that they don’t have to return to a life of destitution, it is paramount for them to acquire relevant vocation and job skills. Additionally, they must be empowered with self-confidence, social skills and a sense of purpose.

Folk undertook a two-dimensional approach in order to attain these objectives – the practical (including vocational) and the personal (imaginative/reflective). It is our belief that the two must come together for the most effective learning experience. The programme was organised on the premises of folk as a space for learning specific skills and learning how to think and feel about these skills. The youngsters were introduced to the full range of activities that the work in folk comprises of: printing, merchandising, stitching, quality checking and packaging. They would then be encouraged to make independent choices of work-area depending on their individual inclinations. Each element of learning was designed, delivered and mentored by subject-matter experts.The impetus of this training was to ensure that these youths are motivated to pursue their chosen area of vocation. Our aim was to hire them at our facility at the end of this
apprenticeship, thus self-actualising our process. But we realise that our work is far from done. And we won’t stop here. It is our goal to participate in more such projects so that we can equip more and more people with the essential skills that are required to get a job that sustains them and, more importantly, fills them with a sense of dignity.