Lack of employable talent is one of the biggest hurdles faced by corporate India and apprenticeship is an accepted solution for it, hence engaging and nurturing them will be crucial.
By Sumit Kumar
In the aftermath of Covid-19, organisations will need to rethink their business strategy as well as plans for cost optimisation, hiring and growth. Job roles will definitely change and companies may look at downsizing. However, it is too early to predict the exact impact. During this challenging time, the apprentice workforce may be overlooked and ignored. Lack of employable talent is one of the biggest hurdles faced by corporate India and apprenticeship is an accepted solution for it, hence engaging and nurturing them will be crucial. It will help in creating a pool of employable talent to take on the post-Covid-19 era.
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In this context, the government’s announcement of ensuring that 2.43 lakh apprentices will be paid stipends is a crucial step. While employers may find it challenging to sustain apprentices due to their cash conservation priorities, the government can extend a helping hand to employers. Some of the ways in which corporates can continue investing without stretching are:
1. Utilise underused funds from the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) to pay stipend: The government can assist employers in their endeavour to sustain apprentices. They can increase the subsidy limit under NAPS for three months, as Rs 10,000 crore has been earmarked under the scheme, which is currently underutilised. Also, the government needs to be cognisant of the lakhs of trainees who are currently engaged under other central and state-led ‘learn and earn’ schemes.
2. Look at the larger picture, engage apprentices using digital interventions instead of laying them off: Employers need to engage tactfully with the apprentices as it will enable the organisation to be better prepared for rapid recovery, once the situation settles. Capability building should be a key focus area, but we will need to remodel the engagement mechanism. There needs to be paradigm shift to virtual learning to efficiently train and interact with the apprentices. Employers also need to look at amalgamating digital tools like gamification, simulation and augmented reality to create a conducive social and group learning ecosystem. Imparting this through handheld devices needs to take over on-the-job learning for the time being to maintain continuity in learning.
In this challenging situation, survival is the key for both individuals and businesses. The need is to strike a balance between must-haves and good-to-have, prioritise costs and investments, take a long-term view, and have clear directives for everyone’s welfare and wellbeing.
The author is vice-president, NETAP, TeamLease