We must rely on Degree Apprenticeships to deliver the perfect balance of formal education and skill development.
The Current State of Higher Education
Over the years, the education system in India has focused more on formal learning instead of skill development. This has not served us well as is evident from poor statistics with respect to employability. The India Employability Report raises serious concerns with respect to the utility of traditional degrees when graduate and post-graduate students account for a significant 30% of the unemployed masses. Many young students who are disillusioned early on decide to quit formal education to seek employment in the informal sector which accounts for 80% of the job market. Those who continue to persist with our befuddled education system are relegated to underemployment in the informal or formal sector as they lack the skills necessary to contribute to the employment landscape. Government bodies have identified the lacunae in our education system and have realized the importance of skill development. This is clearly evident with the drafting of the NEP which seeks to create a balance between formal education and vocational training.
Degree Apprenticeship programs can address the two major issues hampering the economic success of our youth which revolve around first, the rising costs of higher education and secondly, the lack of requisite skills at the end of a three or four-year Bachelor’s degree. Degree Apprenticeship programs can help them reduce the burden of higher education by enabling them to earn while they learn. Secondly, they will be equipped with some tangible skills and on-the-job experience that will help them enter the formal job market with confidence.
Upcoming Trends in the Education Industry
The new developments with respect to policy and curriculum along with the latest developments in technology are catalyzing change in the education scenario. Some of the significant and welcome changes that are on the anvil are as follows:
- Leveraging the Online channel to deliver effective education that is self-paced, economical, and efficient. It will provide learners with the freedom to engage in apprenticeships that will reduce their financial burden and at the same time equip them with hands-on skills for the job market
- Apprenticeship-embedded degree programs can open the possibility of an employer-funded financing model for higher education and the income flow through the stipend. These innovative programs have the right ingredients to create a demand-pull for higher education.
Degree Apprenticeship through Universities
Only 37 out of 1043 Indian Universities have been permitted to launch Online Degree programs in the country. And clearly, we need the right conditions for the massification of Online learning in the country for the traditional learners (help improve the GER) and the employed learners to upgrade their skill sets.
Comprehensive changes are required in UGC regulations & Guidelines to meet the specific needs of a skilled university. The UGC Regulations need to be amended to include the need for the four classrooms (online, on-site, on-campus, and most important, on-job). A separate set of guidelines and parameters are needed for Skills Universities in India to help this category revolutionize higher education to create a more effective model that combines academic learning with skill-building.
The inclusion of degree apprenticeship programs in universities will help to further boost enrolment numbers in higher education. It will also enable universities to revamp their curriculums in collaboration with the needs of the industry.
How Can Degree Apprenticeship Benefit Employers?
The existing education system has not been able to provide a job-ready workforce which is leading to a talent crunch across industries. Employers find it difficult to onboard fresh graduates and post-graduates as they lack the requisite skills necessary for the job market. There is a substantial amount of money and time that is invested in the training of graduates before they begin to contribute to productivity at the workplace. Employers can redirect this expenditure by engaging with educational institutions early on to develop degree apprenticeship programs that can ensure the cultivation of relevant skills, and a broad understanding of the business so that when these students graduate from the respective educational programs they can hit the road running.
Degree Apprenticeship programs can thus deliver be more beneficial to employers in the following three ways:
- Availability of talent pool with industry-specific skills
- Reduced people supply chain costs
- Lower attrition, higher productivity, and greater likelihood of long-term employment
A lot of collaboration is taking place among industries and higher education institutions with respect to the acquisition of digital skills or new-age skills. The curriculum of degree apprenticeships typically covers a variety of digital skills, including cyber security, big data, software engineering, digital banking, IT skills, IoT, and AI which have become necessary skills across multiple industries.
Many international studies have demonstrated that apprentices tend to be loyal to their employers and organizations that include apprenticeship as part of their workforce report very high levels of satisfaction. Apprentices comprise a pool of talent that is equipped with the specific skills required by the employer. This will help to minimize supply chain costs and also ensure higher productivity as the employee is more likely to be interested in growing with the company.
Apprenticeships are not Restricted to the Manufacturing Sector
The biggest misconception about apprenticeship programs is that they are a substitute for hiring manpower only in manufacturing industries. This does not hold true as Apprenticeship has spread its wings into different sectors including healthcare, e-commerce, IT/ITeS services, logistics, retail, and financial services. Apprenticeship programs are gaining momentum as they enable organizations to enroll raw talent into the company and transform them into full-fledged employees who are more likely to grow with the company. This is a significant advantage for companies as it ensures business continuity, improved productivity, and of course lowers attrition rates.
The Deployment of Apprenticeship Programs is a win-win for all the stakeholders, be it the higher education institution, organization, or students. Several leading organizations such as Schindler India, Ginger Hotels, Lotus Herbals, and Mahindra Finance have been relying on apprentices to provide a robust talent pool. Schindler India sources 50% of its workforce comes from its apprenticeship program which is helping to drive the company’s productivity, efficiency, and profitability. Similarly, Ginger Hotels rolled out offers to 80% of its apprentices, of which 70% were on-boarded as employees of the hospitality chain. The program at Genpact has demonstrated a very high absorption rate with 90% of all apprentices being offered a permanent job in the company. These are encouraging statistics that reinforce the immense potential of apprenticeship programs.
The global economy is on the anvil of a huge talent crunch, while India is home to a large population of young, potential talent. It is imperative that we leverage our demographic sweet spot to bridge this global talent gap. Apprenticeship programs can equip our youth with the skills necessary to unlock future job opportunities
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