In the post COVID-19 era, businesses will have to reconsider their strategies and come out with well thought-out plans that will help them optimize cost, hire, and grow. There is also a great possibility that some of the job roles will undergo significant changes in the times to come and that some companies also downsize their employee strength. However, it is still early days to say with certainty about what would happen after the pandemic is gone for good. It is highly likely that apprenticeship programs are completely ignored and overlooked in the current scenario. However, apprenticeship has all the ingredients to help organizations deal with the impact of the pandemic in both the current scenario as well as in the post pandemic times.
In the current situation, one of the biggest challenges that the corporate world is facing is the lack of availability of employable talent. Apprenticeship programs are a viable solution that can help organizations find a way out of this crisis. Thus, it becomes all the more important for businesses as well as the government to work together in nurturing and engaging this talent. This will be a great way of improving employability.
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Apprenticeship programs involve learning from demonstration, which has always been one of the best ways to bridge the gap between schools, colleges, and skill development institutions and students who are in search of jobs. When students learn by observing an expert, they are exposed to different scenarios that they may encounter in real jobs. This prepares them well for those industries that are looking for skilled candidates that are job-ready. In other words, apprenticeship is nothing but an on the job training program that provides a formal learning-while-earning opportunity to a student. The apprentice or student holds skills or education required by a particular employer. And the location of this learning by doing program could be the work floor of a business in the service industry or a manufacturing plant.
The skilling-through-learning program is bounded by a contract signed by both the parties involved. It very clearly outlines the role of both the apprentice (student) and the master (employer). It also mentions the stipend that the employer has to pay the student for their services. Apprenticeship can prepare students as skilled manpower that is ready to fit in different roles at different organizations.
But, it has to be said that apprenticeship learning programs haven’t been as openly adopted by organizations in India as they have been in other parts of the world, especially Europe. However, dire times require dire measures. Businesses can’t have more challenging times than this. So it opens doors for a widespread acceptance as well as adoption of this program. The law that mandates the engagement of apprentices has been around for nearly six decades. However, its need hasn’t ever been so widely felt as it has been now. And it has undergone several amendments as well in the past, most notably the ones that were brought by the current government in the last six years.
The last two years have been very encouraging as the apprenticeship learning programs have picked up pace in this period. This brings forth an ideal solution for businesses to deal with the after effects of the pandemic. There has been more absenteeism in organizations in the last few months than at any other time. It is quite common for businesses to look for alternatives for their original workforce. With apprenticeship, they can train talents the way they want, which would result in the creation of a more skilled workforce over a period of time.
The current government has made a couple of very significant amendments to the apprenticeship law that has resulted in an increase in its acceptance over the past few years. Both these amendments put together have made this program a more profitable solution for different industries. One of the amendments has given the control of designing the apprenticeship program and how it is supposed to run completely in the hands of businesses.
The other important change is how the government has increased the reach by bringing every company, even those in the service sector, with more than 30 employees to participate. In the past, apprenticeship was only restricted to the manufacturing industry. The law now mandates all companies, including the service sector, with more than 30 employees must engage apprentices at 2.5% of its workforce every year. A minimum stipend has to be paid as mentioned in the guidelines.
Moreover, the eligibility requirements for apprentices have also been eased. They no longer need to have any association with engineering. Businesses can enrol students, who have attended school up to the 6th standard, in the apprenticeship program. The qualifications required for a particular job role is left to industry’s discretion. The most significant amendment came in 2016, in the form of the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme or NAPS. With NAPS, companies engaging apprentices can get a part of the stipend reimbursed. They can apply for this reimbursement on the government’s apprenticeship portal.
It is very important to understand how the apprenticeship learning program can work out in the post pandemic era. It can prove to be a boon for companies across industries as it can meet the growing demand for skilled workers by supplying qualified youth that can be trained and nurtured to fit different roles. The government still has a big role to play in all of this. It needs to take feedback coming from different quarters and then implement changes for further improvement.
Apprenticeship programs provide a minimum-investment opportunity to the government and organizations for dealing with the post pandemic scenario. If everything goes right, it could be a great step in the right direction to achieve sustainability and help businesses overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic.
You might also be interested to read:
- “Apprenticeship: Key to Unlocking Post Pandemic” | Abhishek Pandit | 13 July 2020
- “Apprenticeship in India-The way forward in the post COVID scenario” | Surajit Roy | 24 July 2020