Apprenticeships are meant for manufacturing is a myth that industry and society is living under
Historically, apprenticeships have been popular in manufacturing set up, and perception seems to be carrying on with the industry and the society.
The myth has turned into a belief and as a result we have only 30000 employers engaging with apprentices against 63 million enterprises; and India has only 3 lac apprentices, in spite of rich demographic dividends and about a million people graduating every year.
Industrial Policy Resolution in 1948 was meant for manufacturing sector to employ major chunk of workforce. The erstwhile Apprentices ACT, 1961 was meant to cater to this sector as our economy was moving from agriculture to manufacturing.
A set of trades were designated and the structure got evolved over a period of time with amendments in 1973, 1986 and 1997. But all these amendments that took place were inclined towards manufacturing, hence restricting to just technical apprenticeships.
Until the latest amendment which took place in December of 2014 and came into effect from June 2015, where a new trade has been introduce – ‘optional trade’ that covers all the trades which aren’t covered under the designated list.
Hence, the optional trade opens the window for every industry, especially services sector which has stayed away from apprenticeships. 30% of the workforce is deployed under the services which contributes 54% to the GDP.
Need for skilled manpower is going to grow to cater to employment in this sector. Currently only 2% of workforce is skilled, but the need is of 120 million which is 10% of our total population. Indian services sector ruled by $150 IT sector which is in limelight due to expected loss of jobs due to automation and visa regulation, can make use of apprenticeships to upskilling the fresh graduates and reskill the existing lot in newer technologies.
Growth projected in Telecom, Logistics, retail, healthcare, financial services, hospitality, etc.; and the new job roles created by automation would be supported by workforce with specialized skills. Role of apprenticeships cannot be avoided and ignored as industry gets to groom, evaluate and create the best suitable workforce for themselves. However, the perceived notion and lack of awareness has made employers in the sector to design their own training programs which may or may not comply with Government regulation, thus tagging them illegitimate.
Sheer ignorance about apprenticeship a possible career avenue makes balance 80% underemployed, unemployed or adding to unorganized workforce
On the other side, there is also tremendous lack of awareness about the apprenticeships amongst the student community and the fresh graduates. There are about a million people graduating every year whose employability is questionable due to inadequate industry knowledge, poor pedagogy and low quality trainers. Only 20% of the graduates are employable.
Sheer ignorance about apprenticeship a possible career avenue makes balance 80% underemployed, unemployed or adding to unorganized workforce. Globally, students make inroads to career through apprenticeships. In Austria, 40% of kids enter labor market through this route. Unfortunately, because of lack of awareness and accessibility, and fewer opportunities, there is a disconnect with industry.
At TeamLease Skills University, we run an apprenticeship program NETAP which is based on National Employability Enhancement Mission (NEEM) guidelines by MHRD under AICTE.
The program is running for over 3 years now and is helping employers to bridge skill deficit by enhancing the employability quotient of the youth through on the job training program. Over 80% of apprentices are deployed in the manufacturing sector, however, the balance 20% are spread over sectors like retail, logistics, IT/ ITES, Financial Services, healthcare, consulting and research.
Almost every functional area gets covered under the program. Year on year about 20% growth is seen in number of employers under services taking up apprenticeships and trend is only going to grow further. Even under manufacturing, it’s not just the trainees are deployed in assembly line, but areas like quality check, maintenance, procurement, etc. are also covered.
The program supports diversity and has over 350 employers in various sectors deploying apprentices in almost all functional areas.
Employers across industries should come forward to offer apprenticeship opportunities to students from diverse streams. They could advertise apprenticeship opportunities, publish on their websites and make campus pitches. Likewise, students should consider apprenticeships as gateway to their career which gives them a platform to pursue a career of their interest. Apprenticeships are beyond manufacturing, and it time for us to explore to its fullest.
(Sumit Kumar is Vice President – NETAP (National Employability Through Apprenticeship Program), TeamLease Services)