ET ILC members are pursuing a unique apprenticeship model for India Inc, to create the right environment for skilling and make India apprentice rich, says Jayadipta Chatterji Mehta.
The Apprentice, one imagines to be an antiquated term. But the role apprenticeship has survived right from medieval ages. In our country, apprenticeship is the very key to skill development.
Currently, after the apprentice finishes the three-month course work, and up to two years of training on the job, she/ he receives a certificate from the State Skill Council (SSC) and is absorbed by industry into its workforce. Once this gathers momentum and more apprentices get trained and are employed, the system is expected to pay for itself. As of now, the government pays a part of the training and stipend subsidy to the company.
A UNIQUE APPRENTICESHIP MODEL
Apprenticeship makes people employable for industry, thus adding impetus to the wheel of employment generation. Recognising this, the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship, MSDE, set up the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme, NAPS, and empowered the National Skill Development Council, NSDC, and the SSC to carry out this responsibility.
To strengthen NAPS further and make India Inc, ‘apprentice rich’, with better scope of employability, The Economic Times India Leadership Council, ET ILC — the country’s premium platform for business leadership to engage — is pursuing a Unique Apprenticeship Model for India Inc.
As its first national agenda it has adopted ‘Livelihood Enrichment Through Skill Development’, and is collectively with its industry members in the ET ILC Core Group on Skilling, facilitating ongoing dialogues between its industry members and its government partners the MSDE and other stakeholders like the NSDC.
“Apprenticeship is the route to employment for millions of jobless people who can start earning their livelihood. They too, can hope to have an enriched life by having jobs that allow them to spend time with their families,” says G Raghavan, CEO, Bhartiya Group.
Mr Raghavan is a member of the ET ILC core group on Skilling, along with other renowned figures like Amit Gossain, managing director, Kone India; Manish Chaturvedi, managing director, Indus Strategies: Sumanta Dutta, managing director, Logitech; Anil Chaudhry, country president and managing director, Schneider Electric; and Shekar Viswanathan, vice chairman and Whole time director, Toyota Kirloskar Motors. Among other companies that have shown interest in ET ILC’s Unique Apprenticeship Model are PMV Maltings, Tech Mahindra, NEC Technologies, Anchor Electricals, and Avantor.
EMPOWERING THE APPRENTICE
The conversations between the ET ILC core group and the MSDE and NSDC have yielded measurable outcomes. As a first step, the companies represented in this group by their top leadership, will make NAPS a national priority, and once they have adopted it successfully they will become the brand ambassadors for the programme. Incentives may be given to those companies who take on more numbers of apprentices, so that they may be encouraged to continue to do so.
It also feels that the name Apprenticeship is outdated, conjuring up images of the past repressive system. It may be replaced by ‘internship’, which is a modern name, as it reflects the reformed measures taken by the government to create an industryfriendly platform. Once this is achieved the name change shall resonate industry-wide.
Preceding this will be advertisements in print and all other media; and in closer locales through word of mouth, that India is creating employable people from the ground up and industry is employing them and enriching her!
AN INDUSTRY-FRIENDLY SYSTEM
Pre-reforms, the system was bureaucratic, and apprenticeship was limited to factory jobs like fitters, turners, and electricians, etc. The government has now expanded the list to include more jobs.
Now, companies can add new jobs and the ET ILC members feel that services, e-commerce, and other such industries have enormous scope for taking in Apprentices. All that companies have to do is to go to the skill council to register it, outline the course work, and ensure a training centre for it. The ET ILC feels that the focus must also remain on training the trainers. Indeed the entire skilling ecosystem must be upgraded, and, companies must spend more time and effort in structuring their programmes for Apprentices. Earlier, subsidies and stipends were difficult to get and slow in arriving.
Now it comes directly into companies’ bank accounts after they have filled in the required details on the portal. Industry benefits because it does not have to pay apprentices gratuity, ESI, and other government stipulated payments, as they are not ‘regular workers’. Also, industry gets an opportunity to test the person during her / his training period and then, decide whether to employ the person.
THE METRICS OF PROGRESS
The ET ILC also feels that to measure the system, the metrics can be the number of contracts being issued to the apprentices per month. Second is how many apprentices are eventually absorbed into the workforce. The third is an intermittent metric, which is, how many people are getting trained at a given time. For the higher the number being skilled, the higher the chances of them getting a job.
“For every Rs 100 spent by the government in training subsidy and stipend, how many people are getting jobs? This is what we are measuring as it signifies progress,” says Raghavan. These metrics are pertinent for industry and all stakeholders to monitor the progress of the apprenticeship system, he adds.
Under NAPS, industry identifies the job roles, and even creates new job roles in keeping with its requirements. Earlier, there was a mismatch between skilled employable people who remained unemployed because there were no jobs for them. Despite the benefits to industry, the scheme is still at a rudimentary stage of implementation compared to most other countries.
The reason is that first, industry is not fully aware of all the benefits of this system; and that it will eventually enrich the whole country. But once they do, they, in turn, will become its ambassadors. Second, the stipend is sparse at just Rs 1,500. Until the system begins to pay for itself the government may need to increase the training subsidy and stipend only to attract more people to use the system.