According to some reports, while jobs have indeed reached small-town India over the last few years, there aren’t many ‘well-paying jobs’ out there. As a result, many graduates and 12th pass workers relocate to urban areas. Most of them, however, struggle in urban areas as well because of lack of required skills.
“There is a dire need to unearth the hidden talent within the 60-65% of the population residing in small towns and rural areas,” Neeti Sharma, president, co-founder, TeamLease Edtech, told FE. “The rural youth has incredible grasping power and learning ability, and with upskilling they can do miracles.” In addition to knowledge, upskilling provides such youth a career path, outlining the steps they can take to reach their objectives.
Towards that goal, TeamLease EdTech has partnered with 40-plus open and distance learning (ODL) universities across 16 states to train the youth from smaller towns, and 30,000 students are currently deployed across universities and industry as apprentices, pursuing a degree.
What is degree apprenticeship?
It’s a job combined with a university degree, meaning a person/student will be working for an employer for some time and studying (usually online) at university or college for the rest of the time. As against classroom-only learning that can be done in a relaxed manner—depending upon the course one has chosen—a degree apprenticeship can be far more intensive.
“But because it is online, the learner has the flexibility and can learn at own pace,” Sharma said.
In degree apprenticeship, the employer pays the employee/student a stipend every month, so the career growth doesn’t stop, nor does education. “After degree apprenticeship, a student is far more employable than a person who walks in in an office armed only with a degree, because she would have gotten the practical knowledge of the workplace in addition to theoretical knowledge,” Sharma said.
“In India, 25 million kids pass class 10, and only 10 million get into a college, so there are 15 million dropouts. Most of them drop out because they cannot afford to not work for their families. Degree apprenticeship can solve this problem to an extent.”
Earlier this year, a TeamLease EdTech report ‘Future of Apprenticeship in India’ had noted that 92% of Indian universities and higher education institutes believe degree apprenticeships equip students better to meet the demands of the evolving workforce than regular degrees. It highlighted that apprenticeships create more value for students as they go through the learning curve, with 62% respondents stating that apprenticeships have created a sustainable cycle of learning by enabling students to earn while they learn.
Very few universities
The problem, however, is that only 10-odd universities today offer degree apprenticeships. This may change in the near future. Education sector analysts have noted that the National Education Policy 2020 has set the foundation for more universities to come forward and launch degree apprenticeship programmes. “With more universities coming forward, the pool of employable apprenticeship aspirants is going to significantly increase,” an analyst told FE.