By Ganesan K, Past District Vocational Service Chair, and member of the Rotary Club of Madras East, India
As the District 3232 Vocational Service Chair during the year 2018 – 2019 Rotary year, I worked on various initiatives to promote vocational service throughout my district. Vocational service calls on every Rotary member to work with integrity and contribute their expertise to the problems and needs of society. Throughout my year as chair, I helped organize job fairs, career guidance sessions, empowered Rotaractors with new skills to respond to emergencies, and worked with businesses to raise money for vocational service activities.
Below are the different types of projects our district worked on:
As the economy had slowed down there was fear of high unemployment, so I saw a need for organizing job fairs. We connected with a local firm, Equitas, who is well versed in conducting job fairs and they agreed to collaborate with us on our district’s efforts. I encouraged all the Rotary clubs in the district to conduct a job fair in their region. A large number of Rotarians through their clubs participated in this much needed vocational service project. We set out with the goal to match at least 2,000 job seekers with suitable employment, and at the end of the Rotary year, through the efforts of the entire district, 3,270 job seekers attended the fairs and 1590 job offers were made.
Our district felt that there was a big need to educate high school children on various employment opportunities to enable them to pursue the right educational course for developing relevant skills. Towards this end, we organized a mega career guidance program for nearly 2,000 students studying in Chennai schools. Experts from NGO firms, government educational departments and from various other industries were invited to conduct classroom sessions. This was followed by a question and answer session. The course content and contact details were distributed in a printed booklet for students for follow-up.
In addition to this, each club in the district was encouraged to reach out to their local schools, especially where they have Interact clubs. A large number of clubs conducted career guidance sessions in schools where students came from impoverished backgrounds. Equipping the new generation with the knowledge to choose the right vocation is very much an integral part of the vocational service avenue.
Providing Rotaractors skills to be first responders
Skill development is also an integral part of vocational service. It is my firm belief that not all developed skills need to necessarily result in monetary reward, but can also provide a reward much beyond money. For example, saving a life by being a responder in case of emergency. To achieve this objective, I set out to encourage Rotaractors in my district take up this cause. The objective was to train 1,000 Rotaractors. Our district boasts the largest Rotaract community in the world. Every club in the district was encouraged to sponsor at least 100 Rotaractors from their own Rotaract clubs. We connected with a local NGO, ALERT, for this initiative. Because of the funding requirement for the 2-day training, we managed to train 500 Rotaractors by the end of the year instead of the 1000 goal.
This project will be continued in the following Rotary years as well. The Rotaractors that went through training have become certified volunteers carrying their own ID card and emergency kit. They are all networked to send and receive messages in case of emergency through a mobile app and will be available on call 24/7 throughout the year.
Partnering with local businesses
I coordinated with Technip India, a multinational company and requested them to donate from their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Funds for Rotary projects. We succeeded in securing about 21,000 USD in funding from the multinational company. These funds were donated by the company to the Karna Vidya Foundation which runs the Karna Vidya Technology Centre (KVTC). The centre teaches skills related to securing employment in IT and other related field for visually challenged people. KVTC evolved from the activities of a long standing project for the visually challenged by the Rotary Club of Madras Coromandel.
I helped start the Rotaract Club of Dhrishti for visually challenged college students during my time as one of the Assistant Governors of the district 3230 and many of the beneficiaries of KVTC are visually challenged Rotaractors from this Rotaract club. KVTC has so far trained nearly 3500 people out of which about 200 have been specially trained for skill development related to securing a job. About 90 of them have already been placed in employment.
I look forward to continuing to work with my district and our clubs to service our communities through vocational service.
The Vocational Service in Action handbook can help you gain a better understanding of vocational service and provide you with ideas to practice it through your service activities, in your personal life, and in your career. Download the handbook and share it with your club members!