union budget: Apprenticeship revamp: On-the-job training for all sectors in the offing

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The government could open up on-the-job training for all sectors, besides bringing apprenticeship under one ministry or an umbrella body, as part of its efforts to significantly improve apprenticeship in India.

The move is aimed at skilling India’s workforce at a rapid pace across sectors, especially for the 13 sectors under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, and to cover up the loss in skilling for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A host of skilling related announcements could be made in the Union budget for 2022-23 on February 1, with a focus on incentivising private players to take up skilling in a big way.

Agencies

Currently, the retail sector has the flexibility of on-the-job training but other fast-growing sectors including logistics and healthcare are deprived of this flexibility. This increases the time span for bringing apprentices on board as they first have to undergo physical class-room training.

Besides, the ministries’ skill development and entrepreneurship, and human resource and development, both have one apprenticeship scheme each, leading to overlap and confusion among candidates and employers.

“The government is focused on making apprenticeship in India at par with global standards and this requires focussed intervention,” said a senior government official, who did not wish to be identified. “We are analysing various options and an announcement to this effect could be made soon.”

According to India Skills Report 2021, employability of India’s youth decreased to 45.9% in 2021 from 46.21% in 2020 and 47.38% in 2019, primarily due to the loss of skilling in the past two years.

In India, just 0.26 million people are apprentices compared to 0.5 million in the UK, 3 million in Germany, 10 million in Japan and 20 million in China. This is miniscule when compared to nearly 10 million youths that enter India’s workforce every year.

Industry associations have asked the government to involve them as third-party agencies for scaling up apprenticeship in India.

“Across the world, apprenticeship has emerged as one of the successful models to get a skilled workforce for the industries. Apprenticeship training is a very effective way of enabling youth to have practical, on-the-job training, which meets the requirements of the industry,” the Confederation of Indian Industry said in its recommendations to the government ahead of the Budget. India’s current apprenticeship scheme allows 2.5-15% of the organisations’ total workforce to be apprentices and firms with 30 or more employees need to mandatorily hire apprentices.

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