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Auroville Youth Work Survey 2023 - Part 2

Updated: Apr 2

24/03/2024

Introduction

This is part 2 of a survey conducted by YouthLink on the working situation of youth of Auroville. In part 1 we conducted an online & offline survey aimed at all youth between the ages of 18-30. We got 116 responses from Aurovilian youth, which accounts for 24% of all youth of Auroville in this age group.


Many of them also agreed to a longer detailed interview with more open questions. We made 51 interviews in the months July and August 2023. This part 2 of the survey is based on an analysis of these more detailed answers.


After a short check on how representative this study is, the analysis is done in four areas:

2a - An Auroville youth perspective on education

2b - The work situation of Auroville youth in 2023

2c - The financial situation of Auroville youth

2d - A working youth perspective on Auroville itself


How representative is this study

A comparison of these 51 respondents with all 492 young Aurovilians (age 18-30) from the Auroville 2022 Master list on gender, age group and nationality showed that this survey can be considered representative for the Aurovilian youth according to these dimensions, with one exception: we had no young Indian females in the age bracket of 18-21 among the respondents. Thus Indian men and non-Indians were somewhat overrepresented among our respondents.


The survey shows a current snapshot of the work situation. The dynamic and work mobility in this age group is quite high. In the 2 interview phases between February and August 2023, 14 respondents changed between looking for work, studying or working. Another 4 respondents changed their working place.


What the detailed answers also show: the life situations of the respondents are very different. The high individual variety in many aspects of their work life and in opinions on work may be more prominent than the common patterns that can be identified.




2a - An Auroville youth perspective on education


Which high school did the respondents attend?

Several respondents went to multiple high schools, e.g. 6 went to Last School and Future School, or 1 to Last School and New Era Secondary School [NESS]. Therefore we have 60 answers from 51 individuals.




Highest education levels so far among the respondents



From all respondents 7 achieved a master degree, 14 a bachelor degree, 24 completed a highschool degree, 5 middle school and 1 completed no degree.

It is important to keep in mind that the interviewed respondents are in the age group 18 to 30, so some more of them will likely seek higher degrees in the future.


School influence on working

About 16% of the respondents were currently looking for work. This percentage is similar between respondents from Future school and respondents from Last School.


The 7 respondents who were currently studying graduated all from Future School with one exception from NESS.


The highschool visited had no big influence on the area and type of unit where the respondents are working. Notable however: all respondents from NESS are working in an Auroville service unit. All 4 working in the area of arts and performance came from Last School.


How did school (or study) prepare them for their current situation

Since we asked an open question, the answers were quite divers. 9 out of 51 (18%) reported that school did not prepare them well for their current situation. These 9 are spread over all schools. Another 10 out of 51 (20%) mainly mentioned that their highschool provided a platform for further studies.


34 individuals specified several positive impacts each, totaling to 61 answers, main ones being:

● provided basic knowledge about subjects taught, such as Math, Science, English, French (14, 41%)

● provided skills on how to learn and grow (11, 32%)

● provided skills in their work field (8, 24%)

● learned to deal with various situations (6, 18%)

● developed self discipline (5, 15%)

● learned how to interact with people (4, 12%)

● Learned how to be proactive (4, 12%)


What would they have liked to learn in school or during their studies?

8 respondents answered this question explicitly stating that they learned everything they wanted in school. 4 respondents admitted that in hindsight they could have learned more

from what was offered.


40 respondents named a total of more than 60 different subjects that they would have liked to learn at school. Frequently named areas are:

● (12 respondents, 30%) Learning more practical things instead of theories. This ranges from basic skills of home maintenance, build and repair, like plumbing, electrical, mechanical work, or using carpentry tools, to practical exercises and crafts and arts.

● (11, 28%) Many wishes center around some kind of life coaching. Find out what you are good at and like to do; how to deal with adverse situations or when you get lost; how to learn from failure; social skills about communal living, gender norms, safety,

consent and awareness; sexual education; how to find a balance between study/work and fun; self growth, confidence and how to live a more conscious life.

● (10, 25%) would have liked to learn to manage their finances: concept of taxes and salaries; how to file taxes; how to save and invest; how to open a bank account; how to get a health insurance; economy and how money works; basic accounting.

● (9, 23%) would have liked to learn about administrative work, like writing formal emails and documents, as well as basic computer skills, how to use a computer efficiently and learn about office tools for documents, spreadsheets, posters and presentations.

● (8, 20%) respondents asked explicitly to learn more about Auroville, its history, its governance, and how it is functioning as well as learning more about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

● (7, 18%) would have liked to learn more interpersonal communication skills, ranging from dealing with people in different situations, to essay writing and presenting to

wider audiences.

● (5, 13%) asked for practical teachings on how to find a job, how to apply for a job including writing a CV and an application letter; basics on entrepreneurship.


The answer patterns differ depending on the highschool the respondents visited. Future school provides an International General Certificate of Secondary Education that allows students to study abroad. Therefore many responded that they were well prepared for studying and that they learned self discipline and time management. They missed more practical skills (7, 30%), how to deal with life situations (5, 21%), how to find or create a job (4, 17%), and they would have liked to learn more about Sri Aurobindo and Auroville (6, 27%).


Last School does not provide an official certification to allow for further studies and instead focuses on integral education. Remarkably, more than half the Last School respondents (8, 53%) said that they learned everything they wanted at school. They positively state that they learned determination, persistence, and to deal with many situations in life (8, 53%); it gave them a love for learning and self development (5, 33%). They did not mention a lack of knowledge about Sri Aurobindo or Auroville and had also no wishes in the area of practical skills or finding a job as opposed to respondents from other schools.


What kind of learning or training or coaching support would they like to receive now?

8 respondents answered they had currently no need for training or coaching support. The other 43 respondents asked for a large variety of themes they would like to have support.


The most frequent named sorted in descending order are:



and 19 more subjects were named once or twice.




2b - The Work Situation of Auroville Youth in 2023


This sociological analysis examines the results of a survey conducted to understand the work situation of Auroville's youth aged between 18 and 30. Our in-depth interviews aimed to shed light on various aspects of their employment, including the types of work, working hours, job-finding methods, team roles, training opportunities, and the factors that shape their work-related preferences. The data gathered from 51 respondents offers insights into the employment landscape within Auroville and how it compares to opportunities outside the community.


Employment Status

Out of the 51 respondents in part 2 of the survey, 36 (71%) were actively employed, 7 (14%) were studying and 8 (16%) were looking for work. In the previous part 1 of the survey 89 (77%) respondents from 116 were employed.

In both study samples the employed respondents worked an average 2 years at their current workplace.




Where do they work?

Among those employed, 42% worked in service units within Auroville, 36% in commercial units within Auroville, and 22% in commercial companies outside Auroville. In the survey part 1 with 116 respondents we had a similar distribution. Notably, 6 of the 13 working

in Auroville's commercial units were also founders of these units.


The respondents have often worked in several other places before. On average respondents worked in 2.3 workplaces in Auroville and in 1.8 workplaces outside of Auroville in addition to their current workplace.



In which areas do the respondents work?

Many work in the area of hospitality & eatery &

food (28%), followed by education (19%) and

health & physical education (14%). Some are

working in art & performance (11%), forestry & horticulture (11%) and architecture & construction (6%). The others (11%) have single specific jobs.

Half of the respondents also indicated that their hobbies could potentially serve as a foundation for another work area.

A categorisation is not always easy as several youths work in more than one place.


How did they find their job?

Nearly half of the respondents (45%) found their place of employment through connections of friends or family, while 18% founded their workplaces by themselves. Internships, volunteering (12%), and initiative applications (9%) were other common methods of job acquisition. Only 2 respondents found employment through Auroville HR Hub or Auroville web announcements.


How much do they work?

The working hours among Auroville's youth exhibited a high degree of variability, ranging from 10 to 60 hours per week, with most working between 30 and 40 hours. Surprisingly, the work location has not much influence: respondents working in commercial companies outside Auroville work an average of 36.8 hours per week, in commercial units in Auroville do they work 44 hours per week in average, the self employed work 38 hours per week and in service units in Auroville do they work 35.5 hours per week in average.




The overall average working hours were 37.9 hours per week, with 33% wanting to reduce their work hours, 44% content with their current hours, and 17% aiming to increase their work hours. Reasons for wanting to work more were driven by a passion for their work, while those seeking reduced hours cited a desire for better work-life balance, time for family, education, and other activities.

We also asked about caretaking work in addition to the job. 13 (36%) of the respondents do caretaking work for parents, children or relatives, ranging from a few hours to 50 hours a week, with an average of 15 hours.

Additionally, 15 respondents (42%) engage in unpaid volunteer work ranging from 1 hour to 20 hours per week, averaging 8.5 hours per week.


Team Roles and Work Hours

Several in Auroville emphasized the non-hierarchical structure of their teams. Nevertheless, 11 respondents (31%) find themselves in an executive role. The remaining Auroville youth hold team member roles (69%). The average workweek for team members was 33 hours. In contrast, executives work an average of 49 hours per week.

Half of the respondents pointed out that they are willing to take on more responsibility.


Workplace training: The majority (65%) reported that they received on-the-job training, with 38% exclusively relying on this form of education. Six respondents (18%) received an introductory course to their current work, while 8 (24%) others attended internal or external workshops or courses. Self-study was mentioned by only a few respondents, primarily among the self-employed. Notably, 4 respondents received no training at all, two of them work outside Auroville, and the other two hold executive roles within Auroville.









2c - The financial situation of Auroville youth

We asked the Auroville Youth about their financial situation in 2023. This data includes 36

individuals working both inside and outside Auroville. 33 respondents also shared

information about their earnings on a given scale. From these 33, 15 (45%) are Indian and 18 (55%) are Non-Indian; 19 (58%) are male and 14 (42%) are female.


Most respondents (11) answered that they earn about 20 000 INR per month. Nearly as many report that they earn 30 000 INR or more. On the other hand, 5 earn less than 10 000 INR.


The big differences result also from the fact that some respondents work outside Auroville and some work only half time.


What are the differences in income?

To get an idea what may cause the differences, we calculated averages by considering all “<10 000” as 8000 INR and “>30 000” as 31 000 INR. These are not exact averages but they give a tendency.


The 24 respondents that work in Auroville have an average income of 19 200 INR per month, 6 of them work half time.

The 9 respondents that work outside Auroville have an average income of 27 900 INR per month, 2 of them work half time.


If calculated this way, the difference is 45% more for working out of Auroville. But the real average will be much higher, since we asked only for “30 000 INR or more”. Our scale does not work in Europe or USA for example, since the earnings may well be 3 to 5 times higher, but the purchasing power of money is also more than 3 times less than in India.


In addition, 30 respondents also answered another question regarding how much they would earn outside of Auroville but within the Indian context. 17 said they would earn a lot more, 11 said they would earn more, only 2 said they would earn less.

To take these incompatibilities into account, the following figures will exclude all respondents that work outside Auroville, to make the averages more comparable.


What are the differences in income if working inside Auroville?

6 respondents in Auroville work 25 hours per week or less with an average monthly income of 13 500 INR. Average work hours per week is 16.8 hours.

The 17 full time workers in Auroville work an average of 43.3 hours per week and have an average income of 21 900 INR.

The difference in work time is 158% more for working full time, the monthly income is 62% more for full time.


The 18 respondents that hold team member

roles in Auroville have an average monthly income of 18 400 INR and work 32 hours per week on average.

From the 11 respondents who work in an executive role, 7 work in Auroville and 6 answered the question about their income.

They earn an average of 21 700 INR per month, but they also work an average of 53 hours per week.


The difference is 18% more income for executives

but also 67% more work hours.

The 17 male respondents working in Auroville earned an average of 20 400 INR per month and work an average of 40.4 hours per week.


The 7 female respondents working in Auroville earned an average of 16 400 INR per month and work an average of 27.3 hours per week.


In Auroville, the female respondents earn 20% less than the male, but they also work 32% hours less.

The 11 Non-Indian respondents earned an

average of 15 700 INR per month in Auroville and worked an average of 29.7 hours per week.

The 13 Indian respondents earned an average of 22 150 INR per month in Auroville and worked an average of 41.5 hours per week.


The difference is 41% more income for Indians and they also work 40% more hours.

The 9 respondents that work in a commercial

unit or are self employed inside Auroville and answered the question on income earned an average of 19 300 INR per month and worked on average 38 hours per week.


The 15 respondents that work in an Auroville service unit earned an average of 19 100 INR per month and worked on average 35,5 hours per week.


The income is about the same for both groups, the respondents working in AV service units work 7% less hours.


Is their working income sufficient for everyday life?

19 participants (53%) reported that their current income meets their daily needs. On the contrary, 17 respondents (47%) indicated that their income falls short of covering their expenses. Nationality or gender has no big influence on these answers. About half of the respondents are male and female in both groups and likewise about half of both groups are Non-Indian the other half Indian.


From the 10 young Aurovilians working outside Auroville only 1 said that his income is not sufficient for everyday life.

From the 26 respondents working inside Auroville, 10 (38%) answered that they earn enough for their everyday life. They have an average income of 22 000 INR and work on average 35 hours per week. The 16 respondents in Auroville saying that they earn not enough for their everyday life had an average monthly income of 17 700 INR and work on average 38 hours per week. There was not really a threshold: two respondents seem to adapt their lifestyle to a monthly income of about 15 000 INR or even 10 000 INR.


What are important wishes/things that they cannot afford with their current income?

Since many respondents named multiple things that they can't afford, this data has 66 answers from 34 respondents.




The largest unfulfilled wishes concern money for traveling (15 out of 34, 44%) or improve their housing situation (38%). Many respondents expressed challenges in meeting fundamental needs such as visiting their family (26%), raising a family (9%). Or they cannot afford pursuing higher education (9%) or invest in their own business (12%).


If their working income is not sufficient, how do they fill the gap?

In instances where their financial requirements exceed their income, participants resort to:

● (17) seeking support from partners, family, friends

● ( 8) engage in outside work (seasonal, abroad, online or freelance)

● ( 7) rely on savings they can use

● ( 2) adjust their lifestyles

● ( 2) utilize credit lines




2d - A working youth perspective on Auroville itself

This is the last chapter of the Auroville working youth study, answering the questions how working in Auroville is different from working outside, whether low payment is a reason to leave Auroville and about the influence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on them.


Work in Auroville versus external work:

We asked those who experienced working both within and outside Auroville (31 out of 51) an open question: what are the differences? The big majority (28 of 31) expressed positive sentiments regarding work within Auroville. They cited among others and in different wording: more creative and meaningful work, better work relationships, more freedom and opportunities to explore and learn, less pressure and stress, more personal growth, less hierarchy, a healthier work-life-balance, a beautiful work environment and that it is easier to find work.




The main criticism centered around lower payment. A few critics (3) described the work culture in Auroville also as less professional, lazy, stagnant; - all of them are working outside AV and in a commercial context. The findings on average working hours according to respondents do not support the criticism of being lazy, see the analysis part on working situations: average working hours do not differ much between Auroville and outside.


Is low payment a major reason to leave Auroville?

Considering the main criticism on low payment in Auroville, we also asked the question, whether this is a reason to leave Auroville.


From the 35 working respondents, 15 (43%) said, low payment is a major reason to leave Auroville in the future and 7 (20%) said, this may be a reason.


If the education degree is higher, there is a slightly higher tendency to answer Yes on this question.


There is some correlation with the place of work: working outside of Auroville makes it more likely to answer this question with Yes or Maybe (6 out of 6), working self employed in Auroville makes a No more likely (3 out of 5).

Other analyzed factors like gender, nationality (Indian versus Non-Indian), which Auroville highschool they visited or the reported impact of the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had no clear correlations with the answers on this question.


Influence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Of all respondents there were 48 that answered the open question "Do the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have an impact on your current life? In which way? ".


Only 2 said that their works did not really impact them. Some said they are somewhat (7) or indirectly (7) impacted. The majority of the interviewed youth (32 of 48 = 66%) answered with a clear yes, some enthusiastically.


How were they influenced? About half of the answers (20) mention reading Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and a similar number said by living in Auroville. Education was also named, but to a lesser degree (10). Another influence named were people and mentors in Auroville (5).


How they feel and express the impact is very diverse and individual. The answers range from seeing work as yoga, motivation to grow and for lifelong learning, conscious living, human unity and world view; to guidance, clarity, compassion and emotional security.


Summary

This YouthLink survey is based on 51 detailed interviews with Auroville youth in July-August 2023. It provides insights into their education, work places, financial situations and their

perspectives on Auroville. We consider this sample as generally representative, only very young Indian females aged 18-21 are underrepresented.


The percentage of master, bachelor and high school degrees is much above average. Auroville high schools are quite different in their offers. Future School graduates felt well-prepared for studying, while Last School graduates expressed satisfaction with their education's holistic approach. Despite some feeling inadequately prepared, most cited positive impacts such as skills on how to learn and grow, how to interact with people, how to

be proactive and how to develop self discipline. Areas for further training or coaching interest include administrative skills, financial management, interpersonal communication, practical skills, crafts and arts.


Out of the 51 respondents 36 were working, 7 were studying and 8 were looking for work.

From the working respondents 28 were working in Auroville, 6 of them founded their own work place. The variance in working hours is high, but the average working hours per week is quite similar between youth working outside Auroville or in Auroville. 31% of the working respondents are executives, they work more hours than team members. A significant number of respondents also engaged in caretaking responsibilities and unpaid volunteer

work in addition to their primary employment. Financially, most youth earn about 20 000 INR a month or more than 30 000 INR if they work outside Auroville. Gender, nationality or type of workplace has not a big influence on earnings, if also the average working time is considered. Nearly half of respondents indicate

their income falls short of covering everyday life expenses, seeking support from friends or engaging in work outside of Auroville to bridge the gap.


Regarding perspectives on Auroville, most express positive sentiments, citing factors like meaningful work and opportunities for learning and growth. However, lower payment compared to outside opportunities is a major concern, with a significant portion considering it a reason to leave in the future. A majority said that the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo have an influence on their current life. How they feel and express this impact is very diverse and individual.


Contact us

A big thank you to all our respondents for the time they took to carefully answer our questions and the trust they showed in us. We hope this study will give a clearer picture of the working youth of Auroville.


If you have any feedback, specific questions or would like to discuss the findings from this survey, please reach out to us at our email: youthlink@auroville.org.in.





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