Country’s top advisory body, the Planning Commission, has taken a strong objection to the government diluting its own proposal for mandatory 50% reservation in private sector jobs to apprentices.
The ministry of labour had proposed that an amendment in the Apprenticeship Act of 1961 to insert a new provision making absorption of at least 50% of apprentices as employees.
It also said preference would be given in the employment to those apprentices who have been trained by a particular industry when job opportunities open up in that particular industry or firm.
The provision was proposed to give fillip to the National Skill Development Mission, which aims to provide train 15 crore youth by 2020 with the help of industry by 2020.
“The proposal would have ensured jobs for those trained under the mission,” a senior government official said.
The government had found that despite training for a specific sector the trainees were not getting jobs in that sector thereby making the skill development scheme less attractive.
The industry was not willing to accept the change in law which invites punishment for violations saying it would curb their freedom to hire and fire employees. The industry instead wanted the government to prescribe a voluntary policy in this regard.
The labour ministry obliged and changed the mandatory provision to a voluntary one by saying that 'preference may be given' to apprentices in jobs. The ministry cited implementation problem as a reason for making the change.
Plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia this week expressed his anguish at the dilution.
“The proposed provision on giving preferences may not serve the actual purpose and in fact would defeat proposed amendment in the Act,” Ahluwalia said at a meeting of National Skill Development Coordination Board.
After Ahulwalia’s objections, the ministry has left the final decision on the amendment to a Committee of Secretaries.
“A note for consideration of Committee of Secretaries has been prepared and sent to the Cabinet Secretariat,” an official said.
The 50-year-old law is being overhauled on the recommendations of a task force appointed at behest of the Prime Minister's National Council on Skill Development in 2009. The changes were proposed to make corporate India more enthusiastic about well-trained apprentices.
However, other amendments into the law provide for restricting imprisonment only to 'proven' willful defaulters in serious violations.
Another change also provide for Central government having implementing authority in case a company hired employees in more than four states.