Indian Leather industry comprises one of the youngest workforces with around 55% workforce below 35 years of age. Being a $17.5 billion industry (ref: makeinindia.com/sector/leather) and with the outstanding workforce, it might reach greater heights sooner than we realise. However, the question is, how does this highest export earner of India ensure a well-trained workforce as per emerging industry needs?
Apprenticeship, a global solution for all industry needs, is the favourable response to questions like this. While other training and skilling programs are catering towards the skill development, apprenticeship, however, has been proven to be a win-win way of building talent pool.
To drive greater participation in the apprenticeship program, the government has brought significant reforms to the apprenticeship rules. The initiatives like National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) are catering towards the apprentices needs of industry and is crucially connected in the skilling of young talents.
The Leather industry, which falls mostly under Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is extensively skill based, so the demand for skilled workforce is huge. If executed properly, apprenticeship can become the driving force to bridge the skill gap as it has the potential to serve the purpose of both the government who wants to provide jobs and the industries which have a need of trained and experienced workforce. The importance of apprenticeship is paramount because;
Apart from having a high rate of return on investment, the apprenticeship program allows a company to get educated and skilled people from the ecosystem.
Industry can engage the students as apprentices, train them on their own shop floor processes, assess them on their relative strengths and weaknesses and then employ them, only if found suitable.
Engaging apprentices on the shop floor can boost the productivity of the companies.
As Leather sector is cluster based, Apprenticeship allows the industry to provide basic training and classroom training. Under the approach, the companies can have a common basic training partner and common classroom where they can share the costs and purchase tools and equipment. Government will also share the cost of training.
It is high time, this MSME industry should have an apprenticeship focused work environment looking at the importance of the program.
Benefits to the students
Apprenticeship will provide the students with a feeling of the real factory and helps them speed up and work under pressure. This is very different from learning in a school. The Leather industry needs apprentices in every department. Apart from hands-on experience, apprenticeship programme has other crucial benefits too, which are;
An opportunity to learn while they earn from the age of 14 years
Exposure to real work environment through hands-on training
Acquire skills and knowledge from industry experts
Better employment opportunity after completion of apprenticeship
Benefits to the industry
Leather sector is one of the 8 major industries that generates export revenue for the country. While leather industry is contributing to the export revenue, the non-leather industry is majorly contributing to the domestic market. So the industry has an urgent need for skilled manpower and apprenticeship is the best way to skill the youth as per global standards through demand-driven training. While apprenticeship ensures the skilling of youth, it has immense benefits for the leather industry as well. The benefits are:
Apprenticeship is a great opportunity to ensure skilled workforce as per the requirement of the leather industry.
5%-10% of total workforce can be apprentices
Reduce long-term costs and eases statutory and regulatory requirements
Proactively address hiring requirements by training the apprentices as per industry needs.
CSR budget can be utilized for apprenticeship program.
The industry has the option to design and implement their own Apprenticeship program
Under NAPS, the establishments / industry can get reimbursement upto 25% of the stipend paid to the apprentices.