Challenges, Achievements and the Future of Skilling the Indian Youth

The demographic dividend of India has endowed it with a lot of plausible opportunities. There is an immense scope of economic development and restructuring the socio-economic landscape for the nation. As it stands, by the end of 2020, at least 65% of the Indian population will be at the working-age group of 15 to 59 years with the average population belonging to the age bracket of 29 years. The changing nature in the age structure composition is quite beneficial for the country. The rise in the working-age population is imminent and is projected to grow by 96.5 million between 2021 and 2031 and by 41.5 million between 2031 and 2041. Currently, the labour force participation rate in India is around 53%, with 80% of them constituted by working-age males and 25% being constituted by working-age females. This trajectory of labour force participation is going to create dressing needs for the creation of jobs and various sources of employment. But for all of this, the basic challenge lies in bridging the skill gap of the nation while addressing a number of associated issues. 

Challenges that lie in the path of skilling the country’s youth : 

The challenges that pose obstructions in skilling the youth of the country and providing them are manifold and can be discussed below. 

  • Lack of awareness on the needs of apprenticeship training and the requirements of engaging apprentices in the quintessential operations of the organisations 
  • Absence of clarity in the progression pathways of skilling programs and the integrated credit framework
  • Non-availability of training infrastructure and the shortage of financial assistance as well as regulatory actions to make it accessible 
  • Lack of framework for an apprenticeship in the informal sector and  the dearth of involvement of Small and Medium Enterprises in apprenticeship training 
  • Insufficient incentives for employers employing apprentices 
  • Scarcity of resources that link apprenticeship to vocational guidance and careers and the absence of a unified apprenticeship ecosystem throughout the country 
  • Too many insignificant programs linked with apprenticeship and a number of entities regulating them 
  • Lack of proper communication and outreach about the importance of apprenticeship
  • Non-recognition of successful apprentices 
  • Educational backlogs of the Indian youth including a large fraction of school dropouts. 

Initiatives are undertaken and Achievements obtained while addressing the mentioned challenges :

The Government of India saw the pressing need for apprenticeship and the need to integrate it with both academia as well as industry to enable the seamless transition of a candidate from school to the professional world. Therefore the Government made a number of amendments to the obsolete Apprenticeship Act of 1961 and forwarded the Apprenticeship Amendment Bill of 2014. Thus the structure of apprenticeship in the country was restructured. As a result, the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme was introduced in August of 2016. The National Apprenticeship Training Scheme, the Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills and the National Employability Enhancement Mission were launched. 

The revised structure saw the Government addressing the key issues of industrial development and economic boost through apprenticeship training and engagement of more number of apprentices in various industries. The organisations also started benefitting from this structure because the tutelage and practical training that they offered to the candidates was recognised by the Government which promised financial assistance to all employers engaging and mentoring apprentices. The candidates also received incentives while undergoing apprenticeship training, which made it possible for them to sustain this in the long run. Apprenticeship training was now offered to :

  • ITI pass-outs
  • Trainees of Dual System of Training (DST)
  • Graduates 
  • Diploma Holders 
  • Passouts from NSQF aligned courses like PMKVY and DDUGKY
  • Candidates pursuing graduation or diploma 
  • Fresh apprentices.

Thus the opportunities of apprenticeship were extended. All kinds of apprentices including Trade apprentices(both designated and optional trades), Graduate apprentices, Technician apprentices, and Technical or Vocational apprentices were being created out of these significant reforms in the national apprenticeship environment. 

The achievements lie in the fact that starting from a mere 0.28 million apprentices till 2010, to almost 0.5 million apprentices per year from 2019. All kinds of organisations which were surveyed about the benefits of engaging apprentices responded positively saying they benefited immensely from apprentices. It was witnessed that large industries benefited by almost 74% due to Apprenticeship Training whereas around 64% of Medium scale industries were benefited whereas small scale industries clocked around 55%. Sector-wise analysis displayed the astonishing figures that almost 80% of organisations belonging to the apparel industry benefited from apprenticeship and around 54% of IT and ITeS companies benefited from apprentices and these were the best and the worst figures respectively. 

Thus the future of the Indian apprenticeship landscape and the future of providing skills to the Indian youth is secured and ready to thwart any challenge while continuing the economic progress of the nation.

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