Some of the changes in the decades old Act include outsourcing apprentice aggregation to third-party and expanding the definition of establishment to include new sectors like trade, commerce or any industrial activity.
Further, the government plans to open up apprenticeship opportunities for students while pursuing education while allowing employers to send their apprentices on the manufacturing locations abroad and allowing virtual training of theoretical components, the skills development secretary Praveen Kumar said.
“We will finalise the concept note on the changes proposed to the Apprenticeship Act soon and will seek comments from the stakeholders. The aim is to move the amendment to the Act in the monsoon session,” Kumar said. The ministry will seek Cabinet approval to the proposed changes before going to the Parliament.
Currently, on an average 2.5 – 3.0 lakh apprentices are trained a year with only 17,000 establishments undertaking apprenticeship training. The government hopes the changes in the Apprenticeship Act will increase the number of apprentices in the country up to five times in the next few years.
As per the existing provisions, firms with 30 or more employees have to train a minimum of 2.5% of apprentices each year while maximum could go up to 15% of the total employee strength.
However, estimates show that no company, including public sector enterprises. train apprentices beyond 2.5-3% of the total workforce as a result of which the number of apprentices trained each year in India remains very low.
According to the ministry, the need for an amendment to the Act has triggered because of the changing nature of the workplace, use of virtual platforms for learning and creation of sufficient infrastructure for training.
Under the proposed amendments to the Act, the new definition of establishment will include “any place where any trade, commerce or industrial activity is taking place including educational and training institutions also. This will further expand the institutions available for apprenticeship.
Further, the ministry has proposed to relieve the industry from the burden of paperwork for apprenticeship by enabling empanelled third party aggregators (TPAs) to support employers in all functionalities of apprentice engagement and other paperwork.
Even mandatory provisions of signing of apprenticeship contracts by employers may be replaced with powers being delegated to TPAs under the amended Act.
Proposals are being firmed up to also allow part time apprenticeship to students under formal education system while replacing the provision of contract approval by authorities and permitting, where applicable, virtual training, instead of the physical mode prescribed in the present Act in select sectors, such as IT.
Further, there will be no monetary penalty on employers while allowing industries registered in India to send apprentices abroad ensuring that health, safety and welfare measures for apprentices are aligned with relevant labour codes.