Jobs: Govt taps PSUs as face-saver

State-run firms may of­fer tem­po­rary em­ploy­ment un­der ap­pren­tice­ship scheme

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - NIRBHAY KU­MAR

HAV­ING fallen far short on job prom­ise, the gov­ern­ment now seems heav­ily bank­ing on state-run en­ter­prises to bail it out. The min­istry of skill devel­op­ment and en­trepreneur­ship, the nodal gov­ern­ment depart­ment for job cre­ation, wants PSUs such as ONGC, In­dian Oil, Steel Author­ity of In­dia (SAIL) and Air In­dia to join the Na­tional Ap­pren­tice­ship Pro­mo­tion Scheme (NAPS) and en­gage trainees tem­po­rar­ily.

Un­der the scheme, pub­lic sec­tor com­pa­nies will bear three-fourth of the stipend cost and the re­main­ing will be borne by the gov­ern­ment. The Gov­ern­ment of In­dia will also share Rs 7,500 per ap­pren­tice with ba­sic train­ing providers, ac­cord­ing to a com­mu­ni­ca­tion by the skill devel­op­ment min­istry.

Ad­vi­sories have al­ready been sent out to var­i­ous min­istries in this re­gard. The min­istries have been asked to di­rect PSUs un­der their con­trol to pro­vide tem­po­rary place­ment in dif­fer­ent tech­ni­cal and non-tech­ni­cal trades. In July last year, the Union cabi­net had ap­proved an out­lay of Rs 10,000 crore for pro­vid­ing ap­pren­tice­ship train­ing to over 50 lakh young­sters. Through this Rs 10,000-crore kitty, the gov­ern­ment will pro­vide Rs 1,500 per month per ap­pren­tice as the train­ing cost to the PSUs.

“I so­licit your kind per­sonal in­ter­ven­tion by di­rect­ing all CPSUs/de­part­ments un­der your min­istry to avail of the ben­e­fits of NAPS. They may en­rol all trade ap­pren­tices un­der NAPS,” a se­nior skill devel­op­ment min­istry is learnt to have writ­ten to var­i­ous de­part­ments.

Asked for their in­ter­est in the NAPS, a pri­vate sec­tor ex­ec­u­tive said pri­vate firms would hire when there is enough de­mand. “It is good that gov­ern­ment is ask­ing PSUs to hire ap­pren­tices be­cause they can af­ford to do so even when the de­mand is low. And in the mean­time, if the econ­omy picks up and skilled peo­ple are re­quired, the pri­vate sec­tor will take ben­e­fit of the scheme,” he said.

In­di­ca­tions are not many cen­tral min­istries or PSUs at­tached to them have been en­thu­si­as­tic about NAPS given that only 25 per cent cost or Rs 1,500 per month will be re­im­bursed to them.

With job cre­ation be­ing at its record low, the gov­ern­ment has come un­der fire from the op­po­si­tion. Man­mo­han Singh, ex-prime min­is­ter, and P Chi­dambaram, for­mer finance min­is­ter, last week had re­leased the ‘Real state of the econ­omy’ re­port for the last two years.

The 78-page re­port claimed 90 per cent drop in job cre­ation. Against 11 lakh new jobs in 2010, less than 1.5 lakh jobs were added in 2016. It also said pri­vate in­vest­ments and credit growth had slowed to its “low­est in decades” and a sharp fall in road con­struc­tion to about 6 km a day against the tar­geted 30 km.

Launched in Au­gust, any mid-sized as well as large firms can take part in NAPS. But the re­sponse from the pri­vate sec­tor seems luke­warm. This could be at­trib­uted to lower than ex­pected growth in the econ­omy.

“The pri­vate sec­tor is sup­posed to take trainees (un­der ap­pren­tice­ship scheme). But, that takes place only when they need more peo­ple. See, trainees also need to work be­cause the em­ployer has to pay 75 per cent of the stipend with gov­ern­ment re­im­burse­ment ac­count­ing for only 25 per cent. It is tough call for them (pri­vate firms) to hire trainees when ac­tiv­i­ties are low,” said Jagdish Khat­tar, MD, Car­na­tion Auto. “But it’s good sup­port for the in­dus­try. In­dus­try looks for skilled peo­ple. Hope­fully, when they need to hire more peo­ple they will come for­ward,” he added.

While GDP has been on the rise, there has not been much growth in jobs. Against PM Naren­dra Modi’s prom­ise of cre­at­ing 10 mil­lion jobs a year, the record has been abysmal. The sit­u­a­tion has only ag­gra­vated. It’s es­ti­mated that thou­sands of peo­ple have lost jobs in the in­for­mal sec­tor post-de­mon­eti­sa­tion.

“We en­gage the way we are sup­posed to en­gage the trainees and ap­pren­tices and when there is re­quire­ment. We have been do­ing it con­sis­tently for many years,” an in­dus­try stalwart said.

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