“For people from
to be a worker is
than it may seem.”
Aruna Ranganathan is an assistant
professor of organizational behavior
at Stanford GSB.
first month, compared with 15% of those
with less-experienced trainers. Only
about half of those with less-experienced
trainers made it past the three-month
mark, versus about 75% of those with
more experienced trainers.
The three-month mark was a key
threshold. The new hires who made it that
far generally became long-term employees.
In general, Ranganathan adds, the women
who became long-term employees were
happy about their work and proud of their
new earning power.
Ranganathan says the findings
have implications beyond training and
retaining garment workers in India. High
dropout rates are also common among
first-time employees from historically
underrepresented groups in the United
States, such as inner-city black youths and
And while experts have long focused
on the need for better workplace training,
many well-intentioned programs have had
mixed or even poor results.
“What this tells us is that we need
to better understand the challenges of
transitioning to formal employment for
people from historically underrepresented
groups,” says Ranganathan. “Learning to
be a worker is more complex than it may
seem, and workplace training that goes
beyond job-related skills to also include
‘work-readiness’ skills is likely to be more
effective in retaining first-time workers in
the formal labor force.” Δ
TRAINING THE TRAINERS Aruna Ranganathan (second from left) interviews workers in Bangalore, India.
Not every woman went through that
kind of evolution, but those who did were
much more likely to stay for the long term.
They were also more likely to have had the
Only about 5% of the women with
experienced trainers dropped out in the