35% of Indian students are school dropouts. Of an initial enrolment of 100 students, on an average, only 70 finish school in India. While the number of students in the elementary education level is high (94), many drop out during the secondary level (with 75 left). The graphs below depict these rates for various levels.

Only 61 of 100 ST students finish senior secondary school, the lowest among all communities.

There is no gender disparity in dropouts. Boys and girls quit school in equal measure.

This is an epidemic in our country. The youth population estimated in the rural and village population of Indian states add up to 45% of the total population. Youths form nearly one-third of the total population of India. Rural youth constitute over two-and-half times the size of urban youth. India also witnessed never before seen an unemployment rate of 6.1% in 2017, and things have not changed much from there on now.

The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. Where is the accountability and responsibility?

As the politicians and the leaders are failing to do their part, corporations and medium-sized organisations can be the real path-breakers who can step in to create a real transformation without compromising their business agenda or commercial goals. A quick Google search will show the umpteen number of fortune 2000 and fortune 500 companies that have made profits at the cost of industrialization, afforestation, depletion of natural resources, contributing to carbon footprints, so on and so forth.

As a matter of respect and goodwill towards the country and the economy that allows for the prosperous survival of the business, it is the moral obligation of national organisations to empower the Indian youth and offer employment opportunities especially to the underprivileged and those who are struggling to jump over the economic divide in the job market.

If companies such as Infosys, Tata, Capgemini, Reliance, and more choose to partner with state-approved apprenticeship programs in the arena of their business, it would be of due diligence to the youth of the country who are struggling to find placements with reputed organizations. When a small ecosystem is fuelled with employment opportunities, it will bear manifold rewards not just toward the development of the business, but the entire industry, economy and even contribute to our national GDP.

Home-grown talent is a massive phenomenon in most European and Western countries. They not only have provisions and preferences for employing the sons of the soil, but they also prefer and prioritize hiring them in comparison to immigrants. By doing so, the job requirements stemming from the country are suitably meted out by the youth and citizens of the nation. 

Drop out by the students from schools is the biggest barrier in providing education in rural areas, Pankaj Agarwal, founder and CEO of TagHive said while speaking at a dialogue on the Draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019, at the India International Centre, in New Delhi.

“The increasing dropout rate creates learning gaps, and this is where all the corporate should focus,” he added.

Due to the improper guidance by parents and inadequate teaching facility, students drop out. Thankfully, such dropped out students are given a second leash at education and a chance at decent living through access to Apprenticeship programs.

Jobs

It is not just the duty of the government, but of every profit-making organisation and institution alike to ensure that there is enough awareness and reach for students to get back on the educational train via Apprenticeship programs.

MNCs may be happy to learn that there is a generous government allotted budget for organisations choosing to hire apprentices. There are financial incentives up to 10C for 50L apprentices to be trained by 2019-2020 offered by NAPS (National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme). There are also tax benefits as per the amended Apprentice Act, 2016, where organisations of all levels can now benefit from hiring apprentices. It is a win-win situation for businesses and the economy at large.

The benefits do not just cater to the educational and regional development; it paves the way for harnessing skilled talent and human resources that can transcend demographics, geographies, and industries.

Eco

To summarise, apprentices and apprenticeship programs seem to be the answer for filling in the deficits between opportunities, employment, and talent placement. It is also the responsibility of corporations and commercial businesses to uphold the Indian youth through their contribution to the awareness of apprenticeship programs in their regions and states. It is imperative that they establish a hiring policy focussed on on-boarding apprentices, which stellar organisations such as Mahindra & Mahindra and Godrej express confidence in. The Oct 2019 NETAP (National Employability through Apprenticeship Program) study on Hiring Apprenticeship report revealed that 64% of companies are currently not hiring apprentices, but 41% of the employers are likely to engage them in this calendar year. More so, that trade apprentice (43%) — class 8- to 12-pass, or an ITI pass out — are more in demand as compared to graduate apprentices (23%).

Perhaps we are at the threshold of an apprenticeship awakening owing to government efforts and corporate support. Only time will tell.

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