The International Labour Organisation (ILO) with the Karnataka Employers' Association held a consultation meeting on the draft report on “Apprenticeship Law in India” here on Thursday.

The report, by K.B. Akhilesh, a professor at the Indian Institute of Science, has proposed extensive amendments to the existing law as part of an effort to promote apprenticeship and vocational training in the country.

In India, the practice of apprenticeship in the public and private sectors is weak when compared to developed nations. It is in this context that this project was initiated under the “social dialogue component” of the ILO.

“Apprenticeship schemes need to be used to promote youth employment in the formal sector in India,” said Gotabaya Dasanayaka, Senior Specialist for the Employers' Bureau of the ILO. “Apprentices now form a mere 1 per cent of the Indian work force,” said Ramesh B. Zalki, Secretary to the Government, Labour Department. No longer is a person employable purely on the basis of his educational qualifications, he said and added that the training had become vital in most professions. Mr. Zalki stressed on the need to provide such training as he estimated the required number of skilled workers to rise to about 50 million in the country within a decade.

The draft report extends the purview of apprenticeship schemes beyond engineering and technology, to include service and infrastructure sectors as well. Mr. Akhilesh said that modifications were proposed to the qualifications of apprenticeship, raising the age bar from 14 to 18 in an attempt to prevent exploitation of children. Reservation of women was incorporated into the report.

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