Published: 23rd March 2021
This 17-year-old's platform Junoon is on a mission to upskill blue-collar workers in India, also help look for suitable jobs
Junoon is an instructional, online vocational training and job search platform that provides extensive training programmes to workers across 20 categories. We find out more
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, several families were without a livelihood as their breadwinners lost their jobs. The most affected community was those who were in blue-collar jobs — they cannot work unless they are at the physical location of their workplaces. People like painters, plumbers, electricians, warehouse keepers, security guards, carpenters and others were stuck in their own houses, unable to look for work due to the COVID-induced lockdown. Just like in other parts of the country, the situation was quite the same in Gurugram, which pushed this 17-year-old to do something about the issue. Ahaan Aggarwal, a Class 12 student at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, set up an online platform to help blue-collar workers upskill themselves and find suitable jobs. Launched in April 2020, Junoon was created to help millions of Indians across the country who were struggling to find employment.
Junoon is an instructional, online vocational training and job search platform that provides extensive training programmes to workers across 20 categories, such as auto mechanics, auto drivers, painters, plumbers, electricians, warehouse keepers, security guards, carpenters, masons... pretty much every other blue and grey-collar job available in the country. The training programmes are free of cost on the platform and come in both text and video formats. "I did some research about the condition of these workers in Gurugram and found that, at the time, the unemployment rate in Haryana was at a peak, around 32 per cent approximately. During our research, I also found that the biggest gap is that numerous workers lack proper professional training and skills to get employed. What we really needed and what we continue to need now is the standardisation of a lot of blue-collar jobs, to be able to upskill our nation's blue-collar workers so that they can compete in their respective industries and thus, have a job and a regular income," Ahaan tells us.
The Junoon platform consists of English and Hindi-focused vocational training content, a job portal, registration and profile for employers and candidates, and also, real-time matching between prospective employers and candidates. "We have a few 100 job listings across India currently. What makes it special is that the platform is accessible and free of cost for such workers. It is just a website now that is also available on basic mobile browsers, but an app is in the making. Accessing the content on our platform and applying to jobs is absolutely free. Posting job openings is also free of cost, with no cap on the number of job postings," adds Ahaan.
Expectedly, they had to face a few initial obstacles as the 17-year-old set up his platform bang in the middle of a pandemic. "We had to overcome the initial hiccup of working online. Another challenge was to understand the problems most blue-collar workers experience, that side of the story isn't well-represented. We even spoke to those in and around Gurugram to understand, firsthand, what kind of issues they face while applying for jobs, during interviews and so on. That helped us understand better," he adds. The content on the platform was created after consulting with experts in these specific areas to know what the required skills are. Junoon primarily provides soft skills training. "We are always simultaneously in the process of creating more detailed content for training, trying our best to consult professors from ITI institutes," says Ahaan.
Junoon has nine members in the team currently. They received sufficient funding last year in October through several angel investors, adds Ahaan. The 17-year-old is also in the process of setting up something called dedicated community colleges in villages across the country. "Hard skills are necessary for people who are trying to get back into the job market. We have done some research — in terms of the unemployment rate and demographics — in around 10,000 villages in India and are planning to launch the community college in these villages in numerous phases. Through this programme, people will be trained by experts. This is something we want to finalise this year and we are working towards it. We are also developing an app for the Junoon platform to bring in more flexibility. We will be adding more training categories soon," concludes Ahaan.