Apprenticeships are an effective way of ensuring that entry-level workers have the required skills to join the formal workforce by learning on the job. Apprenticeship programmes can aid important transitions — from agriculture to non-agriculture, from rural to urban, from the unorganised sector to the organised, from school to work, and from subsistence self-employment to wage employment. Several countries have benefited greatly from such focused programmes on skilling the workforce. The new apprentice Act gives more flexibility to establishments to engage apprentices while adding trades under the training programmes. Under the proposed changes in the factories Act, 1948, women will be allowed to do night shifts and workers will be able to do more hours of overtime. These steps are expected to open up more job opportunities for the youth.
While such steps are important, one must not forget that reforms in labour laws should also be accompanied by universal social security plans. Besides providing a safety net for workers when companies retrench during a period of slowdown, these will also help counter a potential backlash from labour unions.