Budget 2024: Skill development, apprenticeship programmes in wishlist of industry experts

Union Budget 2024: CEOs of hiring, apprenticeship companies expect focus on upskilling, job training, programmes for building workforce.

Budget 2024 expectations by industry experts. (image: Wikimedia Commons)Budget 2024 expectations by industry experts. (image: Wikimedia Commons)

Vagisha Kaushik | July 5, 2024 | 12:57 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Allocation for skill development and entrepreneurship, provision of job training and apprenticeship programmes, and additions in the National Education Policy (NEP) are some of the expectations of the industry from the union budget 2024. Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharama is likely to present the India budget 2024 in the third week this month.

Ankit Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Unstop anticipates that talent acquisition and upskilling will be the most important aspects of the upcoming budget for the HR sector. According to the chief, catering to the immediate need for a rapidly evolving job market, there should be a substantial increase in the budget allocation for skill development and entrepreneurship, ideally by 20-25%. He thinks that the government must invest in the digital skills training market owing to the digital economy’s projected contribution to India’s GDP estimated at 20% by 2025.

Talking about investments, the CEO said, “To enhance the learning experience and to leverage industry expertise, companies need to invest in public private partnerships (PPPs). Furthermore, allocating resources and providing equitable access to marginalized communities ensures inclusive growth.”

According to the founder, ever-evolving tech sectors, specifically artificial intelligence, machine learning and renewable energy demand developmental programmes to focus on continuous skill development. In 2024, it is required, he thinks, to build a tech-driven workforce proficient in emerging technologies anticipating a y-o-y growth of 30%. To cater to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, investment in skill development centers is essential, he said.

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“Subsequently, support training programs and micro-credentialing programs equip the youth for the growing economy. Soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication are equally important,” he added.

Job training, upskilling

Furthermore, the founder said that the agenda on the union budget should include a segment for incentivizing companies to bridge the gap between industry requirements and the existing talent pool. It can be achieved by providing job training and offering apprenticeship programs. Constant upskilling and reskilling initiatives will keep the workforce relevant predominantly in sectors undergoing rapid technological changes.”

This approach promises to enhance the workforce quality all the while fostering innovation and inclusivity in India’s economic growth, he said.

AR Ramesh, CEO, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship expects reinforcement of India's economic priorities in the 2024 budget. The primary goal is to boost our global economic standing through strategic initiatives like the Make in India campaign, PLI scheme, Skill India Mission, and Digital India programme, he said. This includes strengthening domestic industries across manufacturing, tech, start-ups, services, and sunrise sectors and bolstering productive capacities by investing in capability building such as human capital, infrastructure, and education, he said.

“However, we expect the government to focus not just on job creation but also on addressing skill gaps faced by industries, with intensified hiring expected amidst projected GDP growth exceeding 7%,” he said.

Skill development, apprenticeship programmes

The union budget 2024 is expected to prioritize skill development and expand apprenticeship programmes crucial for building a highly skilled workforce capable of advanced manufacturing and tech adoptions, as per the apprenticeship chief.

“While we engaged nearly a million apprentices in 2023-24, aligning India's demographic dividend with economic growth predictions requires replicating the engagement levels exhibited by developed economies. Increasing engagement from 0.14% to 3% of the workforce can yield approximately 20 million apprentices, substantially enhancing our industry’s talent pool and elevating the wage and productivity of the entry-level workforce,” Ramesh commented.

Also read Budget 2024: Experts push for higher allocation for education, reduction in GST for digital services

Additionally, it will foster linkages between academia and industries, effectively bridging the gap between classroom learning and practical shop floor experience. This requires crucial reforms, including the need for a shift from bilateral to tripartite engagement (student-academic-industry) and an increase in degree apprenticeship programmes, he thinks. These programmes, recognized for aligning with policy goals and employer needs, offer a strategic pathway for creating a specialized talent pool.

Secondly, to enhance skilling and workforce formalization, the apprenticeship quota in PLI-registered organizations should be increased from 15% to 30%, especially with the scheme proposed to be extended to new sectors like toys, textiles and apparel, furniture, tourism, logistics, small retail, and media and entertainment. Thirdly, scaling apprenticeships via MSMEs can be achieved through government incentives for TPAs, thereby overcoming SMEs' budget constraints.

Additions in NEP, link to NAAC

Fourthly, enabling apprenticeship longevity (current tenure is max 3 years) to reflect the current higher secondary education to PG education pathway is crucial. This will enhance participation from rural communities and women, who have the potential to address our abysmally low formal employment rates. Fifthly, simplifying the current apprenticeship regulatory framework and streamlining technological interfaces should result in less procedural confusion, allowing energies to be focused on expanding the apprenticeship net.

Sixthly, integrating an apprenticeship credit framework in line with the NEP and the existing National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) is suggested to enable seamless transitions for student trainees across different programs and levels of education. A system where apprentices can gain credits allowing lateral entry into higher education from the second year can significantly enhance flexibility and accessibility in learning pathways.

Additionally, by assigning weightage to educational institutions based on their NAAC accreditation, this model ensures equity in admissions, prioritizing quality and fairness. Further, with our China+1 positioning paying off, securing logistics, infrastructure, raw material access, and export markets becomes even more important. Our talent pool can be positioned to run the global supply chain efficiently, and an emphasis on Global Apprenticeships within these sectors could become a viable strategy.

“Apprenticeships articulate the multi-stakeholder demand for higher collaboration between employers, universities, and skills, including 1/3rd college, 1/3rd employment exchange, and 1/3rd ITI. We can reap significant rewards if we can cultivate support and agency via the budget to make this a vehicle fit for reaping our demographic potential,” the TeamLease CEO further said.

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