This is one of a few projects I am working on at the moment.
Connecting Rural Teenagers with High-Paying Jobs
Kevin Burke, Seva Mandir
The first step on the economic ladder for most citizens is a job requiring skills slightly more advanced than day labor. For rural villagers, the economic and personal returns on these jobs are quite high; workers may be able to get a high-paying job without having to migrate to Gujarat, for example. Seva Mandir, in partnership with Ajeevika Bureau, offers trainings in areas like plumbing, electrician, auto repair, stitching etc. but take-up for these courses is low.
The goal is to investigate the reasons why take-up is low, and after a field survey has been completed, to propose solutions or possible training modules to increase take-up among rural teenagers.
A) Get information from Abhay (Seva Mandir employee), members of Ajeevika Bureau (training organization) to estimate the education level, amount of training, job opportunities and pay schedule for various possible jobs like plumbing, auto repair, etc. Research Government of India statistics on the average salary for a worker with no primary education, a worker with primary, secondary, and a high school degree.
B) Conduct field surveys in 8 villages. The goal is to conduct 15 surveys per day, and 30 surveys per town. Visiting two towns per week will allow us to complete the survey portion of the study in 4 weeks.
C) Analyze data
D) Propose solutions/possible randomized experiment
1) Some workers do not sign up because have the required skills to even sign up for a 2 month training course. There is no quick fix for this problem.
2) Workers are credit constrained; to sign up for trainings they would have to forgo two months worth of wages and possibly pay part of the cost of the training. Loans are one possible solution, although collecting the loans has been tough; there’s no easy source of collateral to secure the loan.
3) Workers do not properly estimate the returns to education, or the possible salary in a city job. If their internal estimates of future pay are too low, then they would not sign up for training or education that has a high present cost. Fortunately, Trang Nguyen (2008) found a quick solution to this problem; hold a meeting and display the statistics about how much a 25-year old can make in various professions and with various education levels. She used a graphic with bags of rice; no primary education means avg. pay is 3 bags of rice, a primary education means 6, etc. After the intervention the local people estimated the return to education correctly and their test scores improved.
4) The teenagers possess the skills but have difficulty applying for available jobs, or there are not jobs available.
5) Workers are not aware of the Seva Mandir training programs.
We will test these hypotheses in the survey, and propose an appropriate course of action.