Challenges Faced by Trained Apprentices
Written by Akshaya R.S.
Fourth Year, BA. LLB. The Kerala Law Academy Law College, Peroorkada, Trivandrum
Disclaimer: Please note that the views expressed below represent the opinions of the article's author. The following does not necessarily represent the views of Law & Order.
The development of the country depends largely on its industrial development. For the development of the industries, it is necessary to have skilled craftsmen. In India, the Apprenticeship Act was enacted in 1961 and effectively implemented in 1962.The Act is concerned with the regulation and training of apprentices and other matters concerned therewith. The scheme is for the promotion of new skilled manpower. The apprentices are selected from various trades and are given training. But today, apprentices are suffering from serious issues of unemployment. They are unable to get employed even after the completion of their training.
Apprenticeship is a training scheme which is implemented by the central government to train fresh technically qualified persons of a particular trade or profession in industries or establishments with the objective to make them more employable.
These apprentices are given an opportunity to work with the employers and so as to enable them to get practical experience and more knowledge about their trade. These apprentices are selected in an industry or company through various methods as prescribed by the employer, such as common competitive tests, interviews, or on the basis of their merit. When a person proves his talent in these tests in the manner prescribed by the employer, he then gets selected as an apprentice in that particular establishment. This apprenticeship training is an evaluation process. The apprentices are evaluated during their training period and the performance reports are prepared quarterly.
National Apprentices Training Scheme is a 365 days program conducted in order to technically equip qualified youth with practical knowledge and the skills required in the work field. The scheme is introduced for freshers and governed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, The Department of Higher Education, and the government of India. If the apprentices prove their talent in their training period, the employers may provide employment to these apprentices in their establishment after the training period. If the employers decide to ignore the appointment of the trained apprentices in their establishment, even though the vacancies are available, it may cause hardship to the apprentices and may defeat the whole purpose of this apprenticeship training program. Thus, the employers have a moral obligation to appoint the trained apprentices in their establishment according to the availability of vacancies.
The Apprenticeship Act was commenced in the year 1961 with the objective to train the job seekers as skilled craftsmen in order to meet the increasing demands for trained employees.
The Act contains various provisions which regulate the training of apprentices in various trades and other necessary matters. This apprenticeship program provides practical experience to those job seekers who are technically qualified. Section 2(aa) of the Apprentices Act 1961, defines ‘Apprentice’ as a person who is undergoing training in pursuance of a contract of apprenticeship. Section 2(aaa) deals with ‘Apprenticeship Training’ which means a course of training in any industry or establishment undergone in pursuance of a contract of apprenticeship under prescribed terms and conditions which may be different for different categories of apprentices. In the case of U.P. State Electricity Board v. Shri Shiv Mohan Singh and Anr.., J. A.K.Mathur observed that the Apprentices Act was promulgated primarily for the purpose of recruiting apprentices. The idea behind this Act was to create a strong industrial base across the country. For strong industrial growth, it is necessary to have trained manpower, and for that purpose, the apprentices were recruited.
Section 22 of the Apprenticeship Training Act,1961 says that there is no legal obligation on the part of the employer to give employment to the trainees. This section was introduced with an objective to protect the interest of the employer otherwise these trained apprentices will be a burden for the employer since he would not be able to dump all these apprentices in his establishment.
If there are no sufficient vacancies in the establishment and if the employer is burdened with the appointment of trained apprentices, it will cause hardship to the employers and it will curtail his interest.
In 1995, in the case of U.P.S.R.T.C. v. U.P. Parivaham Nigam, the Supreme Court held that it would not be just and proper to go merely by what has been stated in section 22 of the Act. The nation spends a large amount of money for the training of the apprentices. So the nation should be benefited from this. The apprentices should be given preference over non trained direct recruits. So the apprentices should be trained properly so that they could do or perform better than other recruits.
The Apprenticeship Act also prescribes that the apprentices should be selected through a competitive test. A competitive test means a test that is conducted by the employer to select more talented candidates when the number of applicants is more than the number of vacancies. The legislation should contain adequate provisions to ensure that the competent person receives due training to satisfy the needs of increasing demand for skilled craftsmen on one hand and to improve the employment potential of the trained on the other. During the time of training, the trainees should be put under a discipline akin to that of a regular employee. During the time of employing the trainees in suitable posts, what has been prescribed in the service regulation of the corporation shall be followed. It is of no need that the trainees should appear for another written examination in order to get employed because the apprenticeship training is a continuous evaluation process.
In 2014, Section 22 of the Apprenticeship Act was amended to state that every employer shall formulate his own policy for recruiting any apprentice who has completed the period of apprenticeship training in his establishment in comparison to which was earlier provided that there is no obligation on the part of the employer to employ the apprentices who have completed the period of training in his establishment nor the apprentice also has any obligation to accept the employment under the employer in whose guide he has completed the training.
National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) process manual was published by the government of India through the ministry of higher education. The manual was published in order to promote transparency and accountancy among all stake-holders related to the implementation process of NATS.
The National Apprenticeship Training Scheme helps the establishments to develop human resources for their present and future manpower requirements. This scheme enhances the productivity of the establishment.
The employer could observe the performance of the apprentice before providing regular employment. There is no permanent obligation on the part of the employer to employ the apprentices. So if the apprentice is not disciplined or not accurate with the training process, the employer could reject him. This training makes the apprentices not only fit for the employees but also encourages them to become young entrepreneurs of the nation. This also gives an opportunity for the employer to know more about the character and qualities of the employee. The establishment could train the apprentices so that the trainees will be equipped with the necessary skills to be employed. If the employer does not have enough vacancy to employ the apprentices who have undergone training in his establishment, the employer has no obligation to provide employment to the apprentices in his establishments. But it will not be just and human if the employers fail to provide a job to trained apprentices even after the successful completion of the training period in their establishment and their employers recruit fresh (non trained) applicants for the available vacancies in the establishment especially when the manual says that ‘leading establishments should also select students for employment based on skill assessment sheet and proficiency certificate’. The assessment sheet and the proficiency certificate possessed by the trainees could be considered as their merit to provide employment to them.
The trainees who have undergone apprenticeship training in railways are not properly employed after the completion of their training. Indian railway reserves 20 percent seats for railway apprentices. Even then most of the trainees are unemployed. Considering this we can imagine the conditions of the apprentice trainees who have undergone apprentice training in other establishments in which there is no special reservation. In our country, many job seekers are exploited by employers on behalf of this apprenticeship training program. They are forced to work and they are not given a proper stipend. This is a violation of Article 23 of the Constitution of India (Prohibition of forced labor).
It is reported that the apprentices are not properly employed by the employers instead of the availability of vacancies. They do not have demands in the labor market among employers. Some reasons for this include a low level of skill development, lack of respect for the apprenticeship certificate, apprenticeship seats not being attached to a genuine work need, and the disparity between apprenticeship stipends and workers' pay, making it cost-effective for employers to keep employing new batches of apprentices. In addition to the problem of unemployment stipend by the apprentices, there is no provision for employing the apprentices who lose their jobs without any fault of their own.
After the amendment of the Apprenticeship Act in 2014, Section 22 states that every employer should adopt a recruitment policy for the trained apprentices. Even then, now also many public sector establishments are reluctant to adopt the same. According to the Act, the companies in which more than 40 employees are working should train 2.5% to 10% apprentices. Most of the apprentices who are completing an apprenticeship in private sectors are permanently employed there after their training period according to the availability of vacancies. But in the public sector, there is no such trend. Many public sectors are selecting apprentices for training through strict procedures. Even then they are not providing employment to the trained apprentices. They are selecting new employees through direct recruitment. This may cause hardship for the apprentices who have completed their training period. In the case of Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, the Supreme Court held that Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty ) of the Constitution of India includes the right to work i.e. right to work comes within the purview of fundamental rights. The public sector companies that are selecting apprentices through specified procedures, evaluating them during their training period, and not preferring them for the job vacancies are in violation of Article 21 of the constitution of India. The central government should ask the public sectors to obey the circular regarding the apprenticeship training program which was passed by the central government in April 1983 and also reserve a specified percentage of direct recruitment for trained apprentices.
The state cannot be compelled to provide jobs for every job seeker. No one could sue the state for not providing him a job. Except according to the just and fair procedure established by law, if anyone is deprived of his livelihood, then he could sue for curtailing his fundamental right i.e. right to life and personal liberty conferred by Article21.
Post-Apprenticeship Permanent Employment (PAPE)
The Post Apprenticeship Permanent Employment (or PAPE) is meant for those who have completed the apprenticeship training program but are still unemployed after the completion of training. However, PAPE is not a guarantee of employment.
If there is a vacancy and if the apprentice is suitable for that particular need, then he will be given a job. If a person completed an apprenticeship in an establishment, then he will be appointed in the future as per the vacancy if he is found suitable for such vacancy. It is not a guarantee but as per the eligibility, PAPE provides post-employment to the apprentices. A database module was prepared by the establishment which contains the details about the apprentices who are doing or completed their training. If any private or public sector needs experienced hands, they can recruit from this official database. This scheme makes the poor apprentices believe that they may be employed in the future in the same industry in which they completed the training or any other industry. But in reality, this looks like a scheme to fool the apprentices.
The Apprenticeship Act 1961 was enacted in order to carve skilled and trained craftsmen for industrial work. The people who are selected for the apprenticeship scheme are given training in various public or private sectors for one year. After training, those apprentices who proved their skills in the trade are not given employment in the establishments. Even though there are vacancies, most of the public sectors have ignored to employ them. After their apprenticeship training, also, most of them remain unemployed. The central government is spending a huge amount of money for this apprenticeship training. But after the training, if these apprentices remain unemployed then what is the need for giving this training to them by spending such a large amount of money. In the Indian railway, even though there is a 20% reservation for these apprentices, they are not given permanent employment. Actually this is a form of forced labor, which is a violation of fundamental rights. PAPE is another hoax that is implemented to make the apprentices believe that they will be employed in the future when there will be vacancies. If there is no use of giving such apprenticeship training, then it is better to stop the whole program. Otherwise, the poor apprentices will be put in irreparable hardships. Many establishments including both private and public sectors are reluctant to employ the apprentices instead they select employees through other direct recruits, furthermore, the stipends given to the apprentices are also low. According to the 2014 Amendment, it was provided that every establishment should make its own recruitment policy. But now also there are many establishments that do not have such a recruitment policy. So there is a need for proper implementation of the scheme. The government should check whether these apprentices are appointed in their reserved seats. The competitive tests that are conducted for selecting the apprentices should be made tough and it is better to select a few individuals so that everyone could be employed after this training. If the apprenticeship training is not going properly then it is better for the government to stop such training so that both the money and time spent on this training could be saved. Otherwise, the apprentices should be given proper training and they should be employed after the completion of their training.
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