In the recent years, India has witnessed a significant uptick in apprenticeship engagement, with around 40,000 organizations actively participating. This growth can be attributed to progressive reforms that have simplified the apprenticeship system. A recent survey revealed that 65% of employers now view apprenticeship programs as an integral part of their talent development strategy. The driving factors behind this trend encompass workforce augmentation, cost-effective talent identification, compliance requirements and corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, at its core, the primary motivation remains workforce development and augmentation.
During a recent leadership discussion on 'Interpreting the Returns on Investments in Apprenticeship Programs’ Arunima Mohanty, Head HR at Sona Comstar (Driveline) and Nathaniel Manickam, Director of HR-India at Vishay Intertechnology Inc., shared insights on how organizations are leveraging apprenticeships in India.
Arunima Mohanty detailed her organization's journey into apprenticeships. Over the past five years, they have substantially increased their engagement with apprentices, aligning with the shift towards electric vehicles and Industry 4.0. The primary driver for this decision was the pressing need for a skilled workforce to meet the demands of their digitalized business operations & customer expectations.
Nathaniel Manickam explained that Vishay Intertechnology Inc. initially engaged in apprenticeships primarily for compliance purposes but quickly recognized the immense potential of apprentices in skill development and creating a talent pipeline.
Tangible and Intangible benefits of Apprenticeship Programs
When discussing the tangible and intangible advantages of apprenticeship programs, Nathaniel highlighted several key points.
Tangibly, he emphasized the cost-effectiveness of apprenticeships, as they provide a skilled workforce at an affordable cost, with government subsidies further reducing expenses. Apprentices also enter the workforce with some level of training, sparing employers from starting training programs from scratch. Nathaniel also pointed out the branding benefits of apprenticeship engagement, as partnerships with educational institutions enhance an organization's visibility and create positive brand ambassadors. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in fulfilling regulatory requirements and contributing to the national mission of skill development.
In response to the same question, Arunima presented tangible Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for measuring the benefits of a skilled workforce. These KPIs include assessing the availability of skilled workers, measuring reductions in labor-intensive tasks through automation and monitoring the worker-to-machine ratio. She also highlighted the intangible benefits related to long-term objectives, such as meeting business growth targets, expanding production capacity and fulfilling customer demands. Skilled workers play a pivotal role in translating business aspirations into tangible outcomes, facilitating the achievement of the company's vision.
The leaders also discussed the essential criteria used to evaluate apprentices' performance and measure the effectiveness of their apprenticeship program.
Apprenticeship Programs in promoting Gender Diversity and Inclusion
Sumit Kumar, Chief Business Officer, observed the emerging trend of encouraging women's participation and promoting diversity in organizations, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Arunima stressed the significance of diversity, emphasizing the valuable contributions of diverse perspectives, ideas and skill sets. She noted that enabling changes like allowing third shifts for women has facilitated their engagement in labor-intensive industries. Arunima emphasized that women, once integrated, bring discipline, skills and diverse ideas to the workforce.
Nathaniel shared his organization's commitment to diversity, with over 10% of their workforce being women. He highlighted a significant increase in female apprentices, with their representation growing from 0% to 80%. Additionally, he emphasized that diversity is a crucial pillar of their business practices, aligning with global standards and fostering diversity in various aspects, including rural-urban dynamics and affirmative practices.
Both organizations highlighted the need to outsource apprenticeship management to a third-party aggregator (TPA) to streamline administrative tasks, ensure compliance, and free up organizations to focus on skill development and resource scaling. This approach not only enhances skill development and operational viability but also bridges skill gaps, adding significant value to the manufacturing sector.
SONA Comstar (Driveline) and Vishay Intertechnology Inc. have successfully integrated apprenticeships into their workforce development strategies, recognizing the immense value apprentices bring to their respective industries, from automotive to cutting-edge electronics manufacturing. Their experiences underscore the importance of adapting to evolving industry demands and technological advancements.
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