Skip to main content

25 June 2024

Making Our Mark: Shweta

As we countdown to WorldSkills Lyon 2024, we are shining a light on 100 young people who are creating positive change through skills. Like Shweta Ratanpura, the first Indian woman to win a WorldSkills medal, who is now inspiring other women to consider a future in skills.

Currently working as a User Experience (UX) Designer at Microsoft, Shweta is a powerful example of how skills can help societies stay at the cutting edge of technology and find creative solutions to existing and emerging challenges. While she does this, she is also shifting perceptions of careers in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) so they are seen as a “respectable” option for young women in India.

Shweta grew up showing a talent for everything from painting to writing stories. Yet, those around her were keen that she embark on a more “academic” route. It was not until her uncle noticed her creative talent and suggested that she apply to study at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, that she started seriously considering a less traditional trajectory, away from maths and engineering and towards graphic design.

Shweta explains, “Graphic design was not traditionally a popular choice of career back then – for anyone, but especially girls in India. But all it took was a little bit of information and awareness to help my parents see the potential of a future in that field.” Fast forward years of study and determination and Shweta found herself stepping off a plane in India, holding her bronze medal in Graphic Design Technology from WorldSkills Kazan 2019.

It became a significant step for Shweta as she used her win to shift the perceptions of TVET in her country. In Shweta’s own words, “When I met my parents at the airport, I could feel how proud they were. But I also noticed that my success at WorldSkills encouraged people in the community to start viewing skills as a respectable and viable career path, too.” 

Now, Shweta is using her experience to encourage others like her to strive for their goals, harnessing the power of skills to drive change and build self-confidence. She travels around India speaking at schools, universities, conferences, media events, and even on television. When she gives talks in schools, Shweta is aware that it is not enough to engage young people. She also reaches out to parents and educators. She says, “While young people are open-minded and curious about skills, it is important to address parents and teachers separately. They are the ones who can encourage their children to follow their passions and explore these study areas.”

Shweta’s own story continues. The confidence she gained from her WorldSkills experience led her to complete a Masters degree in Interaction Design from the IDC School of Design, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, before embarking on her current career at Microsoft. She says, “I had considered myself quite shy, but the shyness started to melt away as I was given the platform and opportunities through WorldSkills. Now, I have the confidence to walk into a room and feel comfortable speaking to anyone. I have a lot of people to thank for this, especially my parents. Now, I want more people to have this feeling.”

Follow our stories and learn how more young people are making their mark.