Written By Ms Meena Raghunathan ( Advisor CSR, Skills, Education, POSH )
The Government of India knows that without industry, skilling cannot be meaningful, given that employment in industry is the goal of many skilling initiatives. The National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 in fact lays down that ‘Skill development is the shared responsibility of the key stakeholders viz. Government, the entire spectrum of corporate sector, community based organizations, those outstanding, highly qualified and dedicated individuals who have been working in the skilling and entrepreneurship space for many years, industry and trade organizations and other stakeholders.’
Many corporates have been engaged in skilling through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives—the very fact that a largest chunk of CSR funds go towards education and skills speaks for this. They have also been actively engaged in adoption of ITI institutions. Some large corporates, specially in the IT space, also partner with engineering colleges and run special initiatives to enhance learning of relevant skills.
This is a good start, because it will surely help the dismal statistics of skilling in India, where barely five per cent of workforce is skilled, compared to the 90+ per cent in South Korea!
But even as corporates financially support skilling, industry must look to how they can value-add to it. The critical factor is to bring their core competencies to play in enhancing the quality of skilling. For instance, while skilling curricula at many levels are today prepared with the involvement of industry through the institutional mechanism of Sector Skill Councils, there is still a lot of room for individual industries to further enhance the content of skilling programmes through their knowledge of latest developments in their sector. They can work with training and education institutions to keep their curricula current. This real-time loop will help ensure that those who graduate from such programmes are readily employable. Industries can also help by advising and supporting skilling centres on how to set up their practical labs and equipment, by donating such equipment, and by training trainers on the use of these. Visits by industry colleagues to such institutions and interactions with faculty and staff will help industry understand how they can fill the gaps, and will inspire the students.
On-the-Job Training (OJT) is a component which is quite weak in many technical education and training programmes, and a key contribution that industry can make is to help with this. Not only opening their doors for OJT, but ensuring that these are structured rigorously, to give the trainees the needed exposure.
‘Recognition of Prior Learning’ (RPL), is a major initiative of the Government of India. Given that in India, most skilled workers have learnt on the job, and though they have skills, they are not formally certified, RPL is a key link in the chain of formalization of skills. It helps to ‘map the existing skills in the unorganized sector and integrate the informal sector to the formal skilling landscape.’ Through RPL, the existing skill level of candidates, acquired through formal/informal channels is assessed, training provided to fill the skill gaps, and then the candidate is evaluated and certified. By providing certification which is on par with certification through other routes, RPL helps to bring informal skills into a formal framework and hence helps skilled workforce to progress in their chosen skills. RPL is usually done on the premises of the employer, and though the time-commitment is not large, yet their buy-in is crucial, to facilitate and motivate the workforce to take this up. By joining this programme, industries can help ensure enhancement and certification of the skills of their workforce.
The most important recent development that industries need to take note of and act upon with regard to the skilling space however, is the Apprentices (Amendment) Act, 2014, Apprenticeship Rules, 2015 and Rules 2019. Through these, archaic and cumbersome processes of taking apprentices into the company have been amended. It is now truly a win-win. Industry can gain from fresh talent in the form of trainees whom they can train and groom, with government even coming in with some financial support ; on the other hand young people can gain skills in the real environment which will make them more employable.
- The period of apprenticeship training for optional trade shall be a minimum of six months to a maximum of three years.
- Every apprentice undergoing apprenticeship training in an establishment shall be a trainee and not a worker. The provisions of any law with respect to labour shall not apply to or in relation to such an apprentice.
- Government of India will share 25% of prescribed stipend subject to INR 1500 per month per Apprentice
- Government of India will share basic training cost of INR 7500 (i.e. 50% of total basic training cost arrived at INR 30/hour/apprentice for maximum of 500 hours)
- The Stipend paid to apprentices over and above 2.5% upto 10%can be considered as a CSR of the Organization
The important message to industry is: Yes, please do financially support skilling. But even more important, get involved in the process. Whether it is adoption of a local ITI, taking lectures in a local Skill Training Centre, mentoring students at your nearest engineering college and giving research projects to them, opening up your doors for OJT and apprenticeships—all this needs to be done. It is nothing but enlightened altruism!