This 17-yr-old entrepreneur’s startup is helping blue and grey-collar workers upskill and find employment
When the coronavirus-led lockdown first began, businesses were impacted overnight. This led to millions of job losses and pay cuts across sectors, affecting so many livelihoods directly and indirectly.
Blue and grey-collar workers were massively affected, with many left with no option but to make the arduous journey back to their hometowns and look for other options. A report by Betterplace, a platform for blue-collar workforce management, estimated more than 10 lakh blue-collar jobs have been affected due to the ongoing pandemic.
Rffealising the seriousness of this situation, 17-year-old Ahaan Aggarwal conceptualised and developed— a platform to help struggling workers. Ahaan began working on the platform in April, alongside pursuing his IB and High School Diploma from the American Embassy School in New Delhi. In August 2020, Junoon, a simple, instruction-based online vocational training and job search platform focused on blue-collar and grey-collar jobs, was launched.
“Junoon serves to help unskilled and semi-skilled workers review or acquire career-specific skills and become better qualified. Our long-term goal is to provide necessary opportunities to enable widespread economic independence,” Ahaan tells YourStory.
The Gurugram-based startup provides training programmes across 20 categories, including auto mechanic, auto driver, painter, plumber, electrician, warehouse keeper, security guard, carpenter, mason, construction worker, cleaner, laundry attendant, gardener, server, runner, cooking assistant, nanny, and delivery man.
“The training programmes come in both text and video formats, and the aim is to standardise modest jobs in the country to provide a substantial living. It offers an end-to-end workforce management system by producing quality, skilled manpower, thereby contributing to the Indian economy,” Ahaan says.
Ahaan strongly believes that by improving the skills of blue-collar workers, India can experience sizeable economic growth.
“India is home to a large number of blue-collared workers in the world. During the lockdown, most of us normalised work-from-home very quickly, but I could see that it wasn’t the same for a large majority of unskilled workers across the country. The mass exodus from the urban areas due to extinguished opportunities was horrifying on multiple aspects,” says Ahaan.
Explaining the motivation behind Junoon, he says he created the platform to enable workers to come back to the job market better trained, and give them the ability to easily find opportunities. “We have received a lot of support from corporates, individuals and government bodies, and would like to invite more people and organisations to work with us on this initiative, that is life-changing in so many ways,” affirms Ahaan.
How it works
Apart from helping workers find jobs, Junoon also makes sure the people registered on its platform get the right skills to get consistent jobs with standardised incomes.
The vocational training content is available in English and Hindi and is free of cost for candidates. The platform does not charge candidates to create their profiles, nor does it charge employers to post jobs or limit the number of listings.
The only time the platform charges a fee is when an employer downloads candidates’ applications’ with contact data, the fee for which is Rs 79 per application.
Currently, the platform has more than 1800 registered users who have signed up for training, and over 60 employers have created profiles and posted job opportunities. Some of its employment partners include Droom Automobile Marketplace, ShopClues Marketplace, Renovite Technologies Inc., St. Kabir School, Fixcraft Automobile services.
In just three months, in November 2020, the startup raised an undisclosed sum in a seed round, from reputed investors like Sandeep Aggarwal, Chaim Freidman, and Vishesh Tandon, and led by Kunal Khattar of AdvantEdge, and tech entrepreneur and investor Viren Rana.
Initially, Ahaan began the startup with a 10-member team on a contractual basis to take care of product, research work, content and video creation. Post fundraising, it has plans to expand its in-house team to head different departments.
The company plans to introduce skill assessment tests based on gender, age, knowledge, and language proficiency, which will help candidates zero in on a sector, taking location and wages in consideration too.
“We also plan to introduce KYC verification, background and reference checks for blue-collared workers, as this will definitely help our employment partners. We also plan to launch community college programmes in nearly 10,000 villages, which we have already identified during our market research,” concludes Ahaan.
Edited by Anju Narayanan