The National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme or NAPS was built on the foundations of the Apprenticeship Act of 1961. The outdated Act was amended by the Government and NAPS was launched in August of 2016. NAPS was introduced in a remodeled and refurbished fashion and was designed to make it industry-friendly and all-inclusive. Moreover, endeavors were made to improve the state or medium and small scale industries and deliver positive impacts through the Skill India mission.
State of skilled apprentices in India for which NAPS became essential :
The state of apprenticeship in India was in an extremely critical condition until the recent past. The country had been languishing at around 2.8 lakh apprentices produced per annum. Thus the rate of absorption of such apprentices in the industry was also quite low. Such a low adoption rate could be associated with the fact that the nature of apprenticeship training was restrained by obsolete laws. Naturally, the industry did not perceive these as friendly and hence the rate of integration of apprentices into the industrial operations was low.
What went behind the implementation of the NAPS scheme :
The Government of India took efforts in opening discussions with representatives from over 200 organizations which included large, medium, small and micro-scale industries. This was done with an objective to identify the areas of the discomfort of the industries and their inherent strategies and planning to alleviate them by creating a holistic approach towards apprenticeship training. The attempts by the Advisor to the Prime Minister and the CII was also responsible for contributing to the larger vision and establishing the foundations to provide industry-relevant recommendations.
Significant changes in the apprenticeship programs that would revolutionize the industry :
Some of the consequential changes brought forward by NAPS that would help revolutionize the market, as well as the efficiency in productivity, are summarised below.
- Previously, the scope of apprentice engagement was restricted only to the manufacturing sector of the industry. But now through the application of NAPS, it has been ensured that scope has been explicitly extended to encompass the service industry as well because the service sector has been generating numerous jobs in the recent past. Industrial sectors that have the option of engaging numerous apprentices are BFSI, Retail, Media and Entertainment, Healthcare, Beauty and Wellness, IT-ITeS, and the like.
- Apprenticeship was earlier confined to only ITI students but now the scope has been extended to other graduate degree and diploma programs as well as skilled and unskilled certificate holders of short-term courses like PMKVY.
- The stipend of the apprentices has been improved by linking it to the minimum wage obtained by the semi-skilled workers of the corresponding States and Union Territories. The apprentices would be getting 70% of the minimum wages in the first year, 80% in the second year and 90% of the minimum wages in the third and fourth years.
- The earlier Apprenticeship laws involved quota systems that would assign targets for industries to engage apprentices based on units, facilities and training resources like trainers, machinery, equipment, and training capacity. But now the quota system has been absolved and every organization can absorb at least 2.5% to a maximum of 10% of apprentices as their employees.
- Previously the Government had discerned 259 trades under which apprenticeship would be performed. But now through the implementation of NAPS, new Optional Trades were introduced according to the demands in business and industry in which apprenticeship could be completed.
- Earlier MSMEs felt bound in furnishing Basic Training courses. Basic Training can now be delivered through sub-contractors and MSMEs have the additional provision to offer Practical Training across 3 units if a single organization does not have the requisite infrastructure to provide Practical Training.
Apprenticeship Training opens an array of opportunities and it is deemed as a win-win situation for all. It can be considered as a win situation for the industry as they can have apprentices on board for augmenting g their financial bottom line as well as a win situation for the candidates because they can imbibe real-time skills and knowledge by working in real workplaces and execute them to enhance their employability. It is also a win situation for the country and the economy. But to achieve this vision, all stakeholders from PSUs and large private sector establishments to small, MSME and other players of the industry need to work synergistically to ensure smooth implementation.