Jobs: Govt taps PSUs as face-saver
State-run firms may offer temporary employment under apprenticeship scheme
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.