Can apprenticeship lead to entrepreneurship? Some insights from the informal sector


Rajesh A R Chairman LabourNetOn the job training and apprenticeships in the informal sector, often accomplished through the master – student engagement, the typical ‘ustad’ and ‘chela’ has led to the creation of many small and medium enterprises. The same can be extended to the formal sector for boosting job creation by kindling the spirit of entrepreneurship. Rajesh A. R, Chairman, LabourNet

Apprenticeship and entrepreneurship in the informal sector

Let’s reflect on how small and medium entrepreneurs usually start their business by being a trainee, earning while learning. The training under the guidance of a master craftsperson, senior mechanic or master chef may not be an organized and structured apprenticeship program but the concept gets applied effectively in a practical set up, at a service center, a restaurant or a tailoring center. And after a certain duration, some of these workers take the entrepreneurial route, while others continue as employees.

Of course, this may not be the ideal way to implement apprenticeship programs and promote entrepreneurship but it provides valuable insights into how work-integrated learning can show the path to become job creators. Many successful entrepreneurs and influential people around the world started as apprentices by picking up their entrepreneurial skills in the informal sector. They started small, sustained their ventures and scaled it up!

apprenticeship and entrepreneurshipLet’s look at 5 compelling reasons why apprenticeship could be the first stepping stone for an entrepreneurial journey, besides being a win-win strategy both for the apprentice and the employer.

Getting started with apprenticeship

While being an apprentice helps you learn on-the-job under the guidance of an expert or a master craftsperson, it also opens many windows for you to discover your interest and passion. To pursue and realize your dream, you need to forego the idea of a 9-to-5 job and adapt to realities of the changing world of work. By foregoing the ‘comfort’ of being absorbed as an employee in the same company you embark on a journey to make a difference by creating value through your product or service. Apprenticeship gives you a great chance to learn in the real work environment, on the shop floor under real circumstances.

Tuning your mindset

In most apprenticeships, you work closely with the business or technical expert, interacting, observing and getting their feedback on your progress. While the mentor may not be the same as your teacher in the school, just by sharing the workspace with him or her you can imbibe many skills and apply them in completing the tasks. This is how many crafts were learnt in olden days when apprentice worked under a master craftsperson.

New products and services

While apprenticeship gives you first hand knowledge about how things work, it also exposes you to many real problems or cases that need smart solutions. You get to understand many aspects of running a business through problem-solving, while fixing issues along with observing how business models work and sales and marketing plans are carried out.

Discover your calling

You may be assigned one particular job role as an apprentice, but this role should not restrict you to treat it like a 9 to 5 job that gets done mechanically. Your world of work comprises many functions and departments that are integral to a business. So, you may get a chance to explore and discover what interests you most and matches your talent and skills. This may sow the right seed to develop your business idea.

Communication and articulation

Your future business is solely dependent on the people you interact with, and the network you build. As an apprentice you get to know relevant people in the industry, meet interesting people who are chasing their dreams and also those who haven’t been successful but carry on with an never-say-die attitude. Engaging with people and building relationships is an art that takes years to learn.

The business owners would love to engage apprentices who can dedicatedly learn, perform and help them grow their business. For a true self-directed apprentice, this could be an initiation into the exciting world of job-creation, starting and growing a business and contributing to the economic growth of your country. Entrepreneurship puts many skills to practice – ability to find a solution to a problem, create a business, develop, sustain and make it profitable and convince people about the way you implement the ideas. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, and you discover its traits, it’s advisable that you follow your instincts and do not seek a job but create many!

This is a guest article by Rajesh A. R, Chairman and Managing Director, LabourNet Services India Limited.

The views expressed above belong to the author. NSN does not subscribe to the views and opinions expressed in the article.

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