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Apprentices Act 1961, Scope of Apprenticeships


ENGAGEMENT OF APPRENTICES UNDER THE APPRENTICES ACT, 1961

The Apprentices Act, 1961 is a legislation that aims to regulate and promote the training of apprentices in various industries in India. The Act provides for the protection of the rights and interests of apprentices, as well as the obligations and responsibilities of employers and apprenticeship advisers. The Act also seeks to utilize the facilities available in industries for imparting practical training and developing skilled manpower for the country.

What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is a person who is undergoing apprenticeship training in any industry or establishment under a contract of apprenticeship. The contract of apprenticeship is an agreement between the employer and the apprentice, which specifies the terms and conditions of the training, such as the duration, the trade, the stipend, the hours of work, etc. The contract of apprenticeship is registered with the apprenticeship adviser, who is an officer appointed by the Central or State Government to supervise and monitor the implementation of the Act.

What are the benefits of engaging apprentices?

Engaging apprentices can be beneficial for both the employers and the apprentices. For the employers, engaging apprentices can help them:

  • Meet their current and future skill needs by training workers according to their specific requirements.
  • Reduce their recruitment and training costs by hiring ready-made talent from a pool of trained candidates.
  • Enhance their productivity and competitiveness by having a skilled and motivated workforce.
  • Fulfill their social responsibility by contributing to the skill development and employability of the youth.

For the apprentices, engaging in apprenticeship training can help them:

  • Acquire employable skills and practical knowledge by learning on-the-job from experienced workers.
  • Earn a stipend while learning and gain work experience that can enhance their resume.
  • Get a nationally recognized certificate on completion of their training that can improve their career prospects.
  • Avail various incentives and benefits provided by the Government, such as scholarships, travel allowances, etc.

What are the eligibility criteria for engaging apprentices?

The eligibility criteria for engaging apprentices vary depending on the trade and the qualification of the candidates. The Act covers four categories of apprentices:

  • Trade apprentices: These are candidates who have passed at least class 8th or 10th or 12th or equivalent and are undergoing training in designated trades (such as carpentry, plumbing, welding, etc.) or optional trades (such as computer operator, data entry operator, etc.) in any industry or establishment. The duration of their training ranges from 6 months to 4 years depending on the trade.
  • Graduate apprentices: These are candidates who have a degree in engineering or technology from a recognized university or institution and are undergoing training in any industry or establishment. The duration of their training is one year.
  • Technician apprentices: These are candidates who have a diploma in engineering or technology from a recognized board or institution and are undergoing training in any industry or establishment. The duration of their training is one year.
  • Technician (vocational) apprentices: These are candidates who have passed 10+2 with vocational subjects from a recognized board or institution and are undergoing training in any industry or establishment. The duration of their training is one year.

The Act also provides for reservation of training places for candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Persons with Disabilities, Women, etc. in accordance with the policies of the Central or State Government.

What are the roles and responsibilities of employers and apprentices?

The Act lays down certain roles and responsibilities for both the employers and the apprentices who are engaged under it. Some of these are:

For employers:

  • To engage apprentices in accordance with the prescribed ratio of apprentices to workers for each trade or optional trade.
  • To provide adequate facilities for practical training and related instruction to the apprentices as per the syllabus prescribed by the Central or State Government.
  • To pay a stipend to the apprentices at a rate not less than the minimum wage fixed by the Central or State Government for unskilled workers.
  • To ensure health, safety and welfare measures for the apprentices as per the provisions of any law applicable to them.
  • To maintain records and registers relating to the engagement and training of apprentices and submit returns to the apprenticeship adviser as required by him.
  • To offer employment to suitable candidates on completion of their training as per availability of vacancies.

For apprentices:

  • To learn his trade conscientiously and diligently under his employer.
  • To attend practical training and related instruction regularly and punctually as per his contract of apprenticeship.
  • To carry out all lawful orders given to him by his employer or his superiors during his training period.
  • To abide by the rules and regulations of his employer regarding conduct and discipline.
  • To appear for periodical tests and final examination conducted by his employer or any other authority as per his contract of apprenticeship.
  • To execute a bond with his employer if required by him to serve him for a specified period after completion of his training.

How to engage apprentices under the Act?

The process of engaging apprentices under the Act involves the following steps:

  • The employer has to apply for registration as an establishment under the Act to the apprenticeship adviser of his region or state. The application has to be accompanied by a certificate of registration under any other law, such as the Factories Act, 1948, the Shops and Establishments Act, etc.
  • The employer has to submit a basic training report and a related instruction report to the apprenticeship adviser, indicating the facilities available for practical training and related instruction for each trade or optional trade in which he intends to engage apprentices.
  • The employer has to obtain approval from the apprenticeship adviser for engaging apprentices in each trade or optional trade as per the prescribed ratio of apprentices to workers.
  • The employer has to advertise the vacancies for apprentices in his establishment through various media, such as newspapers, websites, employment exchanges, etc. and invite applications from eligible candidates.
  • The employer has to select suitable candidates from among the applicants through a fair and transparent process, such as written test, interview, etc. and issue offer letters to them.
  • The employer has to enter into a contract of apprenticeship with each selected candidate and register it with the apprenticeship adviser within three months of its execution.
  • The employer has to commence the training of the apprentices as per the approved syllabus and monitor their progress and performance throughout their training period.
  • The employer has to conduct periodical tests and final examination for the apprentices and issue certificates to them on successful completion of their training.

What are the incentives and support provided by the Government for engaging apprentices?

The Government of India provides various incentives and support for engaging apprentices under the Act, such as:

  • Reimbursement of 25% of stipend paid to trade apprentices by employers (subject to a maximum of Rs. 1500 per month per apprentice) under the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS).
  • Reimbursement of basic training cost (up to Rs. 7500 per apprentice) for trade apprentices who undergo basic training in Basic Training Centres (BTCs) set up by employers or other agencies under NAPS.
  • Reimbursement of 50% of stipend paid to graduate, technician and technician (vocational) apprentices by employers (subject to a maximum of Rs. 3000 per month per apprentice) under the Scheme for Engagement of Graduate/Technician Apprentices in Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
  • Grant-in-aid for setting up or upgrading BTCs by employers or other agencies under NAPS.
  • Grant-in-aid for conducting awareness campaigns, workshops, seminars, etc. by employers or other agencies for promoting apprenticeship training under NAPS.
  • Technical assistance and guidance by Regional Directorates of Apprenticeship Training (RDATs) and State Apprenticeship Advisers (SAAs) for implementation of the Act and its rules.

What are the challenges and opportunities for engaging apprentices under the Act?

Engaging apprentices under the Act can pose some challenges as well as opportunities for both the employers and the apprentices. Some of these are:

Challenges:

  • Lack of awareness and interest among employers and candidates about the benefits and scope of apprenticeship training.
  • Shortage of qualified trainers and instructors for imparting practical training and related instruction to the apprentices.
  • Inadequate infrastructure and equipment for providing quality training to the apprentices.
  • Mismatch between the skills required by the industry and the skills imparted by the training institutions.
  • Low stipend rates and poor working conditions for the apprentices.
  • Absence of a uniform policy and framework for recognition and certification of skills acquired by the apprentices.

Opportunities:

  • Increasing demand for skilled workers in various sectors due to rapid industrialization and economic growth.
  • Availability of a large pool of young and educated candidates who are willing to learn new skills and enhance their employability.
  • Potential for creating a culture of learning and innovation in the industry by fostering a close interaction between employers and learners.
  • Scope for improving the quality and relevance of vocational education and training by aligning it with industry standards and requirements.
  • Possibility of creating a national skill development network by linking various stakeholders, such as employers, candidates, trainers, institutions, Government agencies, etc. through a common platform.

Conclusion

The Apprentices Act, 1961 is a landmark legislation that provides a legal framework for regulating and promoting the training of apprentices in various industries in India. The Act aims to create a skilled workforce that can meet the current and future needs of the industry and contribute to the economic development of the country. The Act also offers various benefits and incentives for both the employers and the apprentices who are engaged under it. However, there are also some challenges that need to be addressed in order to make the implementation of the Act more effective and efficient. There are also some opportunities that can be explored in order to enhance the scope and impact of apprenticeship training in India.

The Apprenticeship (Amendment) Rules, 2019, represent a significant step towards reforming and modernizing the apprenticeship ecosystem in India. These rules were introduced to amend and update the existing Apprenticeship Rules of 1992, aligning them with the evolving needs of industries and the aspirations of young learners. The primary objective of these amendments is to make apprenticeships more attractive, industry-relevant, and accessible, ultimately fostering skill development and employability among the youth of the country.

Key Highlights of the Apprenticeship (Amendment) Rules, 2019:

  1. Inclusion of New Categories: The 2019 amendments expanded the definition of apprentices to include not only students but also graduates and diploma holders. This broadened the scope of apprenticeships, making them more inclusive and accommodating to individuals at different stages of their education and career.
  2. Industry 4.0 Focus: The amendments acknowledge the impact of Industry 4.0 technologies and digitalization on the workforce. They encourage the engagement of apprentices in emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and robotics, ensuring that the Indian workforce is prepared for the jobs of the future.
  3. Increased Duration: The duration of apprenticeships was extended, allowing apprentices to gain more in-depth knowledge and skills. The 2019 rules permit apprenticeships to last up to five years, depending on the trade and complexity of the skills being acquired.
  4. Flexibility in Engagement: Employers were given more flexibility in engaging apprentices. They can now choose the number of apprentices they want to hire, provided they maintain a certain apprentice-to-worker ratio as prescribed by the rules.
  5. Online Portal: An online portal for apprenticeship registration, known as the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), was introduced. This portal simplifies the process of engaging apprentices and provides a platform for apprentices to find suitable opportunities.
  6. Stipend and Wages: The rules laid down clear guidelines for stipends and wages to be paid to apprentices. Employers are required to pay apprentices at least the minimum wage for unskilled laborers in the respective state or union territory, ensuring fair compensation for their work.
  7. Quality Assurance: The amendments emphasize the need for quality assurance of apprenticeship training. Employers are encouraged to provide a structured training program, mentorship, and a safe working environment to enhance the learning experience.
  8. Involvement of ITIs and ITCs: Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Industrial Training Centers (ITCs) were recognized as key partners in the apprenticeship ecosystem. They play a crucial role in imparting theoretical and practical training to apprentices.
  9. Apprenticeship Agreements: Employers and apprentices are required to enter into formal written agreements that outline the terms and conditions of the apprenticeship, including the training schedule, stipend, and duration.
  10. Third-Party Assessment: The amendments introduced the concept of third-party assessment agencies to conduct assessments of apprentices and issue certificates. This ensures impartial evaluation of the skills acquired during the apprenticeship.

In conclusion, the Apprenticeship (Amendment) Rules, 2019, mark a significant shift in India’s approach to apprenticeships. By making apprenticeships more adaptable, relevant, and accessible, these rules aim to bridge the gap between education and employment while meeting the evolving needs of industries. They promote skill development, enhance employability, and contribute to the overall growth of the nation’s workforce. These amendments serve as a testament to India’s commitment to nurturing talent and preparing its youth for a brighter future in the world of work.

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