Apprenticeships have become a topic of global significance with radical changes in the nature of jobs, rising unemployment and informality and lack of skilled workforce. The launch of National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) in India is a significant step towards equipping the youth with industry-relevant skills and knowledge through on-the-job training. The recent launch of ILO Tool Kit for Quality Apprenticeships – Volume 1: Guide for Policy Makers, provides insights from several countries on different aspects of implementing apprenticeship programs. We caught up with Ashwani Aggarwal, Global Lead for Apprenticeship and Work-based Learning Group, ILO, and a contributor to the report to share his views about how Indian Apprenticeship program can benefit from the toolkit. Let’s read on…
The toolkit is meant for governments, training partners, employers and their associations, trade unions and other agencies involved in designing and developing apprenticeship systems. They can learn from the apprenticeship systems of other countries and understand how best practices can be implemented at the practical level. The ILO is the only tripartite United Nations agency and brings together governments, employers and workers representatives of 187 member States to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. Skills development is an important aspect of decent work, so the ILO provides evidence-based policy advice and recommendations to countries in strengthening their systems.
Quality as a key parameter for successful apprenticeships
It is heartening to know that India is giving top priority to strengthening and expanding apprenticeship program. In this connection, it has made amendments to the Apprenticeship Act and launched National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme. These are expected to significantly increase the number of apprentices.
The success of any apprenticeship program depends on ,a number of factors including the robust regulatory and quality assurance framework, how well the policy has been designed and implemented by involving all the stakeholders at various stages of decision making and equitable, sustainable funding. However, it is observed that in many countries effective involvement of all stakeholders is not ensured and this throws up many challenges at the ground level that might affect the desired outcomes of an apprenticeship program.
For a country aiming to establishing or strengthening apprenticeships, the six building blocks discussed in the ILO Toolkit and checklists can guide the policy makers to proactively address emerging issues.
Let’s know more about Quality Apprenticeships as defined in the Report:
“Quality Apprenticeships are a unique form of technical vocational education and training, combining on-the-job training and off-the-job learning, which enable learners from all walks of life to acquire the knowledge, skills and competencies required to carry out a specific occupation. They are regulated and financed by laws and collective agreements and policy decisions arising from social dialogue, and require a written contract that details the respective roles and responsibilities of the apprentice and the employer; they also provide the apprentice with remuneration and standard social protection coverage. Following a clearly defined and structured period of training and the successful completion of a formal assessment, apprentices obtain a recognized qualification.”
ILO approach to Quality Apprenticeships
The ILO approach to successful Quality Apprenticeship systems is based on six key building blocks:
- Meaningful social dialogue
- A robust regulatory framework
- Clear roles and responsibilities
- Equitable funding arrangements
- Strong labour market relevance
Quality Apprenticeships form a bridge between the world of education and the world of work, based on Social Dialogue involving the social partners – employers and their associations and trade unions who are best placed to identify the training that is needed and the way that it should be provided.
Quality Apprenticeships require a robust and stable regulatory framework which establishes the overall conditions for designing and implementing systems and secures decent work for apprentices.
Quality Apprenticeships are built on the support and commitment of numerous stakeholders who have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities and who have a common purpose which ensures the coherence of the entire system.
Quality Apprenticeships generate both costs and benefits for public authorities, employers and apprentices themselves. A clear overall understanding that costs are shared equitably is required to ensure that all stakeholders are willing to participate on a long-term basis.
Quality Apprenticeships prepare young people for occupations and their participation in the labour market. This requires employers and apprentices to know which occupations and which skills are in demand and how these skills will be recognised.
Quality Apprenticeships are not just designed for one social group. For Quality Apprenticeship to offer opportunities for all, there is a need to take positive action to increase diversity, to improve reporting and accountability, to incorporate a level of flexibility and to enhance advice and support.
Each country has unique issues, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. All stakeholders including the social partners should be involved in developing and implementing policies and programmes. The ILO provides evidence based policy advice, develops the capacity of stakeholders, promotes knowledge sharing and also implements development cooperation programmes at the country level.