India needs a massive skilled workforce that is industry-ready to move towards its goal of becoming the skill capital of the world. This is possible through apprenticeship programs that benefit the industry as well the youth. Hence, promotion and adoption of apprenticeship across all the stakeholders demands concerted efforts.
Appreciating this fact, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) are celebrating the December 2020 as the Apprenticeships month. In our continuous efforts to promote apprenticeships, we caught up with Mr. Jan Ebben, Senior Head, Apprenticeship division, NSDC for a video conversation.
In this Skill Talk, Mr. Jan Ebben takes us through apprenticeship from the perspective of NSDC, and notes the challenges in scaling up and the need to promote and market the apprenticeships in India. Find out how the apprenticeship came about in Europe, going a little bit into the history from the video below. Here we go with the excerpts from our conversation; for full interview, please watch the video…
Q: Could you please brief us about apprenticeship and the role of Apprenticeship Division of NSDC?
A: Apprenticeship Division of NSDC looks after the apprenticeship training under the NAPS (National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme). However, it is only one aspect of it. Other works include apprenticeship promotion, engagement of industries to take in apprentices, etc.
Apprenticeship is learning on-the-job training in the workplace, under the direction of a trainer or a mentor, which leads to a recognized qualification. Often, we see that there is lot of confusion among the stakeholders regarding the difference between apprenticeship and internship.
In India, there two kinds of trades under apprenticeships – Optional Trades and Designated Trades. Designated Trades are regulated and subject to standards passed by the central government. Optional Trades are apprenticeship courses that are designed by the industry as per their requirements, because of which it allows a greater degree of flexibility. But these apprentices also fall under the Apprenticeship Act of 1961. Therefore, there is a need to register them and need to link them to the NSQF (National Skill Qualification Framework).
Q: Could you tell us in brief about NAPS and the challenges in executing the scheme?
A: NAPS was introduced in 2016. The scheme runs well. It allows the establishments to take in apprentices, to claim partial reimbursement of the cost of apprenticing, which comes to Rs. 1500 per month for the cost of the stipend and Rs. 7500 for one-time of the cost of Basic Training. The scheme is well received by the organizations. In the past few weeks, we have seen big companies like Go Air and State Bank of India coming forward and sign the contracts.
But there are also some challenges under this scheme. NAPS is broad and the benefits are scattered widely. One of the challenge is NAPS may not be necessary for the larger and profitable firms, as Rs. 1500 per month may not make a considerable difference to them. But for the SMEs and MSMEs, the subsidy can make all the difference. We, at NSDC, envisage that in a future version of NAPS, it might be more earmarked to the needs of the MSMEs and the informal sector. This will make a greater difference.
Q: How do you think we must advocate and create awareness and make apprenticeships aspirational for the youth?
A: When we look at the number of active apprenticeship contracts and the size of the formal sector, India is doing no less than other industrialized countries. But, if we look at the informal sector, there are many MSMEs that need to be approached to take in apprentices. Also, in India, we often see the social problem of low social prestige attached to the apprenticeship. This requires a long-term approach and campaigning to change the casual orientations.
While in Germany, every year about two-thirds to three quarters of each cohort go into apprenticeship. We have a clear example that it should be a first choice.
Low regard for apprenticeships in India is unfortunate but it is because of a persistent colonial legacy. When we look at the apprenticeship act, it came about in the year 1961 but it was largely ignored. Therefore, the approach must be to incentivize the target groups, industries, and families other than penalizing them for not doing so. This makes NAPS a promising approach.
Q: What is the role of NSDC in promoting the apprenticeships?
A: NSDC was consciously setup so that it can play the role of intermediary between the government and the private sector. This is part of its philosophy and structure. It has to take orders which are upstream as well as the downstream. On one side, we have the government i.e., MSDE and on the other side we have the industry, Sector Skill Councils and Training Partners.
NSDC has the facilitating and regulating roles. Out of this, the facilitative role is the more important one. NSDC also manages the public face of apprenticeships, i.e., the portal apprenticeshipindia.org. This portal was developed and is being developed to be a one-stop for all the stakeholders like the companies, employers, apprentices, Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), TPAs (Third Party Agencies) and so forth.
Related article: Difference between apprenticeship and internship – Read more: https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/difference-between-apprenticeship-and-internship/
Q: The German dual model also has a huge potential in India. Do you see close partnerships coming up with apprenticeships?
A: The German dual model is quite similar to the apprenticeship model in India. But there is one difference. The sequential nature of apprenticeship in India is first comes the basic training and then comes the on-the-job training. Whereas in the dual model system the school part and the on-the-job part are done in parallel or you have blocks that alternate each other. Both the systems have their own advantages but one would like to see the dual model to spread more in India.
The opportunities for mainstreaming the apprenticeships must be explored. There is a need for broader acceptance and broader application of the dual model in India. The time is right for that. There is one more difference in practice in both the countries. In Germany, it is mandatory by the German Apprentices Act to have a designated person to act as a mentor.
Q: What according to you should be the marketing approach to promote apprenticeships in India?
A: I wish to share an interesting approach from a recent conversation. The marketing needs to be perceived differently from what we educationists have envisioned. The government must be seen as the producer or the manufacturer of the product (apprenticeships), NSDC as the wholesaler, SSCs and TPAs as the retailers.
Apprenticeship is not a “pull-based” product but a “push-based” product, where the sales person has to proactively explain the benefits of taking the apprenticeship. Here I would like to mention three advantages of apprenticeships:
- Flexibility: Apprenticeships under optional trades can be structured according to company and industry needs as regards to content, time, and structure. This gives the apprenticeships the flexible advantage.
- Cost: Government of India contributes through funds to NSDC under NAPS. This might not be much for some of the corporates but it does make a difference to the MSMEs and the informal sector.
- Management: Institution of the third-party aggregators is something that is unique to India. This can help those organizations who are not accustomed to apprenticing to take up the little administration of apprenticing.