Careers

Are apprentices making up an alternative talent pool?

Photo used for representational purpose only

Photo used for representational purpose only

Schindler India sources nearly half of its workforce from an apprenticeship pool. The company, which manufactures elevators and escalators, considers this talent-sourcing model a contributor to improved profitability, reduced risk of accidents and low dependence on third-party subcontractors. A two-year programme by the company takes 300 candidates on a journey of reskilling, one that travels over varied skill terrains — technical and safety training, English language efficiency and etiquette skills.

This is a snatch of the exposition about Schindler India’s talent-sourcing model found in a white paper titled ‘ROI on Apprenticeship 2021’ brought out by National Employability through Apprenticeship Program (NETAP) from Teamlease Skills University.

The study was released recently, its timing neatly coinciding with 60 years of the Apprenticeship Act in India. Schindler India is one of eight companies whose apprenticeship programmes have been expounded upon. The others featured in the study are: Ginger Hotels, Lotus Herbals, Mahindra Finance, Proline, SKF India, Vikas Group and Genpact.

Ginger Hotels turned to apprenticeship when it noticed a yawning skill gap in much of the talent it had sourced fresh from the market. Besides helping it mould the talent that had walked through its portals, the company sees in its apprenticeship programme the added but significant benefit of a lower attrition rate.

Lotus Herbals used an internal assessment tool to supervise the associates brought in via the apprenticeship route.

“For example, the total number of calls versus total [number of] productive calls made was an assessment test for working in customer handling. And based on the results, improvement programmes came up,” says the report.

SKF, an automotive and industrial engineering solutions company, was up against a different challenge. Since 2017, on an average, 40-45 employees have been retiring every year.

The company needed scalable manpower to ensure operational flexibility, but did not want to source talent from the market. It started onboarding young apprentices on the shop floor in place of the retiring employees.

This was a win-win model for the management and the union, ensuring sustainability for the business and employment, says the report.

Currently, nearly 600 apprentices are deployed in the organisation. Young apprentices brought a different perspective to the work. This model also offered greater opportunity for introducing women operators on the shop floor, a first for any SKF factory in India.

The eight companies have had their share of challenges. For instance, Genpact faced some questions from freshers, the common one being: Why are we not being hired directly as full-time employees?

They managed to give a satisfactory answer. Besides, they have numbers that illustrate their commitment to eventually bringing them into the fold — 90% of all apprentices have a permanent job in the company.

Employers warming up to apprenticeship as a primary skill development tool

Apprentices are being viewed in a more favourable light now. The new perception contrasts sharply with the one that painted them as mere “stopgaps” that stepped into the breach.

This positive idea seems imprinted on all the key findings of a study by Teamlease Skills University. The study was anchored by National Employability through Apprenticeship Program (NETAP), an offering of Teamlease Skills University.

Marking the completion of 60 years of the Apprentices Act in India, the study has revealed that nearly 60% of the employers view apprenticeships as a productivity-booster; and 76% as a factor checking attrition. And 53% of the employers ranked long-term performance and reduced cost of recruitment as the top two benefits of having apprentices on board.

The study shows a 22% increase in productivity gains from apprenticeships — a 5% increase from last year, says a release about the key findings of the study.

It also suggests apprentices offer greater productivity than people recruited from other channels and apprenticeships offer a 19% reduction in hiring costs.

The study titled ‘ROI on Apprenticeships’ has focussed on the gains employers have achieved by investing in apprenticeships.

It also highlights the key reforms required to augment the apprentices ecosystem in India, the release adds.

The paper has called for the “adoption of credit-based apprenticeship embedded degree programs suggested by NEP”; and also for “developing a tripartite association among apprentices, academics and industry to enhance the learning ecosystem.”

Additionally, the study “recommends creating measures to widen industry participation, creating a flexible stipend structure for apprentices and introducing equitable management practices which help accelerate adoption.”

At the event where the study was made public, Rajesh Aggarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said, “In the coming years, all stakeholders (academia, industry, government) need to work together to further improve the adoption of apprenticeships both among employers and candidates.”


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Printable version | May 26, 2022 10:21:53 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/education/careers/are-apprentices-making-up-an-alternative-talent-pool/article37958030.ece