Sunday, 19 June 2016

National Web Portal: A Rewarding Interaction with Director, Board of Apprenticeship Training ( Southern Region )

NHRD Hosur chapter organised an interactive meeting with Mr A.Ayyakkannu, Director Southern region and his team from 3 PM to 6 PM at Dhanunjayas hotel Hosur on 15th June 2016.Significance of the interaction was that it was held in the background of the recent launching of the national web portal on the apprenticeship training scheme ( ).

The meeting was an opportunity for the director to share the significance of launching such a portal particularly in the light of the thrust and vision of the country on "Skilling India for Growth".Soon after the words of welcome by the chapter president, Mr Manivannan, Mr Ayyakkannu painted a holistic picture of the focus and priority of the Government of India on skill development. The importance that the government attaches to the initiative is amply clear from the maiden independance speech of the Prime minister, Mr Narendra Modi who had declared "If you want the country to progress on the path of development, then skill development should be our mantra." He had  also stated that the "youth must get the skills that will help build modern India and also whichever country they go to, their skills should be appreciated. They should be able to win hearts through their skill, ability and talent."

The country seeks to train one crore skilled manpower in the next three years and for the first time adequate allocation has been made in this connection in the budget. A number of schemes and initiatives have been planned to achieve the objectives. The HRD minister is also closely monitoring the qiuick and effective implementation of the national web portal which would serve as the backbone  for realizing the goals. The Director ( souther region ) stated that one of the important purposes of launching the national web portal was to integrate the activities of all the stake holders namely the student, industrial establishments and the educational institutions.

The national apprenticeship training scheme comes under the ministry of human resource department (MHRD) of higher education, Government of India.It is implemented through the boards of apprenticeship training in four regions located at Chennai (Southern ), Mumbai ( Western ), Kanpur ( Northern ) and Kolkata ( Eastern ). Apprentices are provided on the job training by industrial establishments through structured training modules. During the period of apprenticeship, the apprentices are paid monthly stipend, 50% of which is reimbursed to the industrial establishment ( employer ) by the Government of India.On successful completion of one year, a certificate of profficiency is issued by the MHRD, government of India. Fresh graduates, diploma holders in engineering and +2 vocational passouts are covered under the scheme to provide them practical/ hands on experience and fill the gaps between theoretical inputs and actual work practice in the industry.

A national portal was envisaged to address the limitations of the existing scheme and enhance its effectiveness to match the challenges of the changing times. Although general guidelines are available, the four regions had tended to practice its own methods and styles of implementation. There was a need for integration and having a standardized Bible which has documented effectively all the procedures and methods. The other matters that the web portal seeks to address are inadequate performance level of candidates, lack of reliable data at national level, inadequate supply demand analysis, absence of data mining, skewed trend analysis, information sharing and reporting issues.

The web portal enables employers to have access to student data pan India.They need not settle for less suitable candidates available locally.Further,the processes such as approval for engaging of apprentices, reinbursement of 50% claim and other correspondence with the board being online,  become fast and timely. Similarly the students can upload their biodata and send it to any employer they are interested in pan India.

The portal enhances awareness regarding procedures for apprenticeship training among students, provides information about the apprentice vacancies across industries and enables tracking of progress reports.For the educational institutions, the portal makes possible close interaction and bulk updating of students data. Similarly introduction of the national web portal is a boon for the regional boards as information will now be available at the touch of a button. All correspondence whether with the student, industries or educational institutions will be quicker. The board employees can change focus from working hard with manual data to working smarter.

It was an important interactive session for all the representatives of industries who participated at Hosur as it not only explained 'What' but also How' the portal is to be used/ operated by the stake holders.It was informed that the reimbursement of stipend would  henceforth  be done only by direct benefit transfer(DBT) through the banks.It would be channelised through the national payment corporation of India (NPCI ) which arranges more than two million transactions per day.

Mr Ayyakkannu hoped that the national web portal will increase awareness about apprenticeship training scheme. A number of brochures are are also being planned to encourage more employers to join the scheme.Although a country smaller in size, Germany has 5 Lakh employers participating in their apprenticeship scheme while in India it is only 25000. The aim is to raise this number to atleast 1 Lakh in the near future. He said that there would be 9 skill sets imparted to the students  in the two major attributes viz General (6) and Technical (3) and that there would be a joint effort on the part of the board, employer and the trainee/ student to raise the standards of competency.

The trainees would be required to get 'above average' rating in atleast 3 skill sets.The final digital certificate to be issued would give full competency level of the trainee similar to that of a university certificate.The director said that the government was now concerned not with just the numbers trained but the quality of training imparted and the profficiency attained by the trainee.The four regional directors have been encouraged to visit countries like Germany where the apprentice model was working effectively so that we can pick up aspects for making our scheme more robust.

Another important initiative being planned is the cluster drive. Clusters would be made in various regions which would incude an important industrial area.As for example, Hosur industrial area would be in Krishnagiri district/ region  cluster where students from industrially backward areas can come and utlise the infrastructure available in Hosur.Similarly other industrial areas like Coimbatore would cater to the needs of the cluster of their region.

The talk by the regional director was followed by a practical session by Mr Kripa Shankar, asst director who explained the details of how to use the web portal by industrial establishments and other stake holders. At the end there was opportunity for a question - answer session for participants to seek clarification.

What I liked most about this interactive meeting was that we got information about what is happening at the ground level as against the government's declared vision of  "Skilling  India for Growth." In the absence of such information one is apt to presume that all this  is more about 'sloganeering' or hype with nothing much likely to come out of it in the end.But listening to Mr Ayyakannu gives us a clear feeling of a seriousness of purpose.This was also evident from the body language of the regional director.One could sense the pride in his voice when he stated that apprenticeship training and skilling has finally found an important  place in the annual  budget of the country.

I am happy I attended this meeting. For me it was like a connecting the dots session that gave information and features of the national web portal. It threw light on the plans of  how all the stake holders will  work effectively and in coordination for realizing the vision of "Skilling India for Growth."

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