Education and employment have always gone hand-in-hand. It is believed that getting a degree from a traditional college equals better employment opportunities, but sadly this has been far from the truth. With the mushrooming number of colleges and training institutes in the country, getting a college degree has become easier and more accessible, but this has also resulted in deterioration of the quality of education leading to a large number of graduates staying unemployed for a long time after graduation. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, a think-tank that does research and primary data collection stated one in five college graduates are unemployed in India, as of December 2021.
At India Apprenticeship Forum, we interact with several employers and apprentices. The employers are constantly worried about the untrained fresh talent that is coming out of colleges today and on whom they have to spend several hours and resources in trainingand make them productive at their new workplace. Unavailability of skilled talent is another one of their pett peeves. The youth, on the other hand, complain about not getting enough job opportunities which would provide them stable employment, fair wages and better career prospects. While we have huge companies and trainable youth that are available, where are we lacking as a country to scale our production is a basic question that needs to be answered.
How do youth ensure they get the right training while pursuing their degree and how do employers ensure the youth they hire come with adequate knowledge and skill? This is where we feel the need to differentiate between a Degree Apprenticeship Programme and a Traditional method of training through a college.
Academic Rigor: A traditional degree from a college or a university is suitable for academically-inclined students. It involves attending many classroom lectures, periodic assessments, tests, and a lot of self-study. On the other hand, a Degree Apprenticeship is built on concepts of ‘learning by doing’, ‘earning while learning’, ‘learning with modularity’, ‘learning with flexibility, and ‘learning with social signaling value’. All of these make the learner ready to face real-life scenarios and ensure that you are ready to take your role as an employee.
Employability Factors: Traditional Degrees do offer employment opportunities, but a
student is required to unlearn many things that they learned through theoretical classes, which means that the employer will have to spend resources on these newbies to train them from scratch. Degree apprentices, on the other hand, come with real-life situation-based learning, they come to the employer already trained on the job, and they know what is expected of them. With Degree Apprentices, the employers get job-ready talent and on whom they do not have to spend as much time and effort in training as they would with otherwise untrained graduates.
Adaptability at Work: Traditional Degree holders adapt much slower as compared to Degree Apprentices. Some of our recent reports highlight that 92% of Indian universities and higher education institutes believe that degree apprenticeships prepare students better to meet the demand of evolving workforce; and 61% of the employers who engaged with degree apprentices find the return of investment in the program is more than 51%, they rank these student apprentices higher on trainability and productivity.
Boosting India’s Employment Rates: India has 5 lakh apprentices, and the Government’s ambition is to reach 1 million by the end of the current financial year. At, India Apprenticeship Forum, we predict that with degree apprenticeships the adoption of apprenticeships will hasten and we can have 10 million apprentices in the next 10 years. Vocational training or any other traditional training courses has had a community acceptance issue, but through degree apprenticeships, we can overcome this concern as apprenticeships have a degree linkage that has social signaling value and will make it aspirational. Under the New Education Policy 2020, UGC is advocating degree apprenticeships which will have more universities offering a variety of programs, both technical and non-technical, in times to come.
Financial Backing: To pursue a traditional degree course from a college or university, students need to fund their education with the help of parents or education loans from banks at a high rate of interest, but Degree Apprenticeship students are entitled to stipends as stated under the Apprentices Act, thus addressing the concerns over financing or affordability of higher education.
Wage Premium and Career Growth: Degree Apprentices are the most sought-after resources for any organization. Our data suggest that 98% of these apprentices after completion of the training program get into formal employment, and 37% get absorbed by the same employer where they have undergone apprenticeship training. About 0.5% get into entrepreneurship. They get a wage premium of 45% in their compensation post getting absorbed into employment and including the benefits it could be as high as 100%. Also, the career growth for an apprentice is faster than the regular job seeker.
While securing a traditional degree does make one “literate”, a degree apprenticeship makes you more “educated”, with Degree Apprenticeships, we have a hope that our youth is better ready to bridge the skill-gap, while they learn technical knowledge while pursuing their degrees, they also learn soft-skills which enable them for better career prospects. They are equipped to handle any challenge that their professional lives throw at them. They learn people – management from very early on in their job training which makes them better managers. They tend to be more reliable to employers and the issue of talent retention can be addressed through degree-enabled apprenticeship programmes – the future of higher education.
We invite your concerns or questions related to implementing a degree apprenticeship programme in your organisation, do write to us to share your thoughts.
If you are someone who is confused about pursuing your career through a traditional degree programme and question its worth in helping you lead the life you envision for yourself, do get in touch with us.