Since the early ages, the transfer of skills has been happening through the tradition of apprentices. A young apprentice would work under the tutelage of a master craftsman to learn the craft, while the master craftsman would get an inexpensive form of labour in exchange of training the apprentice and basic amenities. This tradition of skill development through on the job training has survived the test of time and found its place in the skill development programs of various nations around the world.
The key benefits of apprenticeship as a mode of skill development are that it is a win-win model for both the industry and the apprentice, and it leads to the creation of an industry-ready workforce. Most countries around the world have implemented the apprenticeship model – Japan has over 10 million apprentices, Germany has 3 million apprentices and USA has 0.5 million apprentices, while India has only 0.3 million apprentices. This number is relatively low considering the huge population and demography of India with more than 300 million people in the age group of 18 -35 years.
In order to realize the potential of the favorable demographic dividend of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Skill India campaign and subsequently, a separate Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) was formed in November 2014 with an ambition to convert India into the skill capital of the world. The young and start-up ministry in a very quick time has covered good ground in terms of putting together policy frameworks, launching and scaling up the flagship skill development scheme – Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), revamping the ITI ecosystem, launching new schemes for entrepreneurship development, etc.
Similarly, the Ministry has taken two key steps to increase the adoption of apprenticeship model in India:
1. Amendments to the Apprenticeship Act, 1961
2. Launching of National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) to replace Apprentice Protsahan Yojna (APY) Apprenticeship Act, 1961
The Apprentices Act, 1961 was enacted with the objective of regulating the programme of training of apprentices in the industry by utilising the facilities available therein for imparting on-the-job training. The Act makes it obligatory for employers to engage apprentices in designated trades to impart apprenticeship training on the job in industry to school leavers and ITI pass-outs, graduate engineers, diploma holders and certificate holders in 10+2 vocational stream to develop skilled manpower.
During the past few decades, the performance of Apprenticeship Training Scheme (ATS) was not in line with the growth of the economy of India. It was found that a large number of training facilities available in the industry going unutilized depriving unemployed youth to avail the benefits of the ATS. Analysis and interaction with stakeholders revealed that employers were not satisfied with the provisions of the act, especially the penal provision of imprisonment of 6 months. These provisions were considered too rigid by employers to encourage them to engage apprentices.
Based on these inputs the Apprenticeship Act, 1961 was amended in 2014 which came into effect on 22 December 2014. The key changes brought about by the amendment are as follows:
a. Imprisonment is no longer a penalty for violations under the Apprentices Act. After the Amendment, any non-compliance would be punishable only by a fine.
b. The definition of worker has been broadened and the method of determining the number of apprentices to be appointed has been amended. These amendments would ensure that employers engage a larger number of apprentices
c. The amendment also made provision for setting up a portal leading to electronic management of records, contracts and returns.
The motive behind these amendments was to ensure that employers engage a larger number of apprentices and to encourage employers to comply with the provisions of the Apprentices Act.
National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme
The government has launched the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) on 19th August 2016 to promote apprenticeship training and incentivize employers who wish to engage apprentices. NAPS has replaced Apprentice Protsahan Yojna (APY) from 19th August 2016. While APY provided sharing of 50% of the stipend as prescribed by the Government only for the first two years, NAPS has provision for sharing of expenditure incurred in both providing training and stipend to the apprentice as follows:
• Reimbursement of 25% of prescribed stipend subject to a maximum of Rs. 1500/- per month per apprentice to all apprentices to employers.
• Sharing of the cost of basic training in respect of fresher apprentices (who come directly for apprenticeship training without formal training) limited to Rs. 7500/- per apprentice for a maximum duration of 500 hours/3 months.
NAPS was launched with an ambitious objective of increasing the engagement of apprenticeship from 2.3 lakh to 50 lakh cumulatively by 2020. We have received an encouraging response from 1.43 lakh students who have registered since the launch of the scheme in August. Ministry of Defence has also shown support for NAPS, by asking all PSUs under it engage over 10% of total workforce as apprentices. Prime Minister recently distributed reimbursement cheques to 15 establishments under NAPS in an event on 19th December in Kanpur.
A user-friendly online portal (www.apprenticeship. gov.in) has been launched in order to facilitate the easy processing of entire apprenticeship cycle and for effective administration and monitoring of the scheme. The portal provides end to end service for the employer from registration and mentioning vacancy to submitting claims, and for the apprentice from registration to receiving and accepting offer letters online.
MSDE is working towards promoting the skilling ecosystem through its initiatives to provide the incentives to employers and creating a regulatory framework to promote compliance. I strongly believe that our initiatives such as NAPS will enable us to create an industry-ready workforce and help us transform India into the ‘Skill Capital of the World’.
Note : The write-up is contribution of Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Honorable Minister of State (I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India