One can hear the waves crash against the shore as Selva Loges Vinlas picks up the phone. Returning from work on a Friday evening, he sounds excited about his weekend plans. He will be spending it at sea with his parents, his cousins and other members of his village, fishing. 

“You cannot take the sea from me,” he says with pride. Hailing from a family of fisherfolk, he dropped out of school after Class 10 and worked with his family for over three years. Leaving it and choosing to take up a full-time job was a difficult decision to make.

We had done this for generations and did not really have the skills to do much else.”

–Selva Loges Vinlas, Alumnus, Govt. ITI, Thiruchendur, Tamil Nadu

His family’s financial status was the primary motivation, he adds. “We needed to earn and save for a better future. I have three sisters, all of whom need to be married and that is an expense we cannot afford with the earnings from fishing.”

Selva’s friend referred him to the Government Industrial Training Institute, Thiruchendur, where he enrolled for the fitter course. Even as he studied, he continued to assist with fishing. His family would go into the sea at 2 am, and return at 7 am and he would join them almost daily. “I would reach home, get dressed and go to class,” he recollects. Selva continues to go to the sea to this day. He uses it as an opportunity to assist his family during the weekends and on holidays.

My time at the ITI taught me everything about planning a career, planning for the future and developing skills to progress at work.”

–Selva Loges Vinlas, Alumnus, Govt. ITI, Thiruchendur, Tamil Nadu

Additionally, he learnt how to make a resume, how to attend interviews and to present oneself well. “I was oblivious to it all. Once I left my comfort zone, I realised that there was so much to learn,” he adds.

Selva performed well at the ITI and spent a year in Bengaluru interning with a multinational company working in construction and mining. He was then employed at Zirconium Complex, a zirconium sponge production unit in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, where he works as a fitter.

Selva Loges out in the sea while not working in the Zirconium Complex

“My dream is to work on a ship,” he announces. Many people from my hometown in Tiruchendur would go work at shipping companies and I want to  do it too. “You cannot take the sea away from me, you know?” he smiles. 

Selva is one of the 2.5 million young people graduating from a Govt. ITI every year. Most young people who join ITIs drop out of the formal education system due to financial reasons or due to their inability to cope with the demands of the formal education system. Young people in ITIs are apprehensive about what education can offer and fear learning due to this background.

FRSN’s focus on career development initiatives through the Employability Skills curriculum in ITIs has given young people the confidence to address this fear and equipped them to embrace lifelong learning.