Youth4Jobs: Evolving and Scaling Up a Disability Inclusion Model
Established in 2012, Youth4Jobs (Y4J) was a not-for-profit organization that served the disabled community, particularly youth, by providing them with market-oriented skills and livelihoods. Meera Shenoy, its Founder and CEO, and the core team of Y4J had previous experience in the skill development and placement of rural youth. However, they quickly discovered that dealing with disabled youth required a totally different approach. The case describes their experiences, the lessons learned and how they evolved their model for Y4J. The case outlines how Y4J became involved in the entire value chain of disability inclusion: education at the school and college levels, imparting skills to increase the employability of disabled youth, and placing them in a wide range of jobs and companies by sensitizing and supporting employers. Within a period of six years, Y4J had grown phenomenally and had a presence across the country. However, given the prevalence of disability in India and the fact that approximately 7-8 million of the disabled population were in the age group of 20-39, Shenoy believed that Y4J had to further enhance its reach to support as many people with disabilities (PwD) as possible. At a visioning workshop in August 2018, Shenoy and key stakeholders of Y4J brainstormed on the way forward for the organization and came up with several strategic options for increasing its impact. Shenoy had the difficult task of choosing among these options and setting the future direction of Y4J. The choices were replicating the model, creating a knowledge hub, and building and empowering the network. Shenoy was also concerned about how to build the requisite capacity to effectively implement those strategies without compromising on the values that had guided Y4J from its inception.