Sumit Kumar, Vice President - NETAP, TeamLease

A dynamic business leader with over two decades of experience in setting up businesses across India, with expertise in enterprise sales, global sales, marketing and operations, Sumit Kumar currently spearheads the mandate for India’s largest degree linked apprenticeship program – National Employability through Apprenticeship [NETAP] under TeamLease Skills University. Before his stint with TeamLease Skill University, he was associated with Monster.com for 12 years where he led the command for global sales for markets like India, South East Asia and the Middle East. In the past, Sumit has also worked with Feedback Ventures and Marriott International. During his association with Feedback Ventures, he created a strong market for paper packing in the retail segment. He has been an active speaker across forums like Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Mission, Maharashtra Chambers of Commerce, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India, Confederation of Indian Industry, Business World Education Summit, Indian Retail & e-Retail Congress and India Apprenticeship Forum. He is an alumnus of The Faculty of Management Studies, University of Jammu and Rani Durgawati Vishwavidyalaya, Jabalpur. He has also done an executive program from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. 

More than unemployment it is the un-employability which is a greater challenge that the youth face today that has led to a skill gap in the labour market. As per a recent survey, 54% of the employers have expressed challenge over finding the right skills while hiring. The national occupational standards suggest that 90% of the jobs in the market need skills and just 10% of knowledge, on the contrary, 90% of the graduates passing out of the colleges have qualification and knowledge but no skills which make them unemployable in the job market. The new education policy 2020 has emphasised on introducing skilling right as the secondary education level and introducing degree apprenticeships at the higher education level to stop the growing gap between the education and the industry. 

The major labour market challenges that employers face is related to talent. The dearth of talent leads to poaching, higher people cost, higher attrition, and unproductivity which impacts the overall business output. The better way to address these concern to resort to talent creation and create a people supply chain; and the best way to go about is through apprenticeships which tends to be self-financing learning mechanism. As per a recent report, employers can get a return in tune 5 lacs by investing Rs 12,000 per month of on investment on apprenticeships. Employers have enough and more reasons for employers to engage with apprenticeships:

  • They are able to create the talent as per the need of the organization
  • The cost of talent is rationalized over a period of time by engaging in talent creation instead of talent acquisition.
  • The apprentices turn out to far more productive as they undergo a structured training
  • The employees who graduate through apprentices tend to be more loyal and remain engaged for a longer time
  • Higher productivity yields higher business returns.

As employers tend to gain through apprenticeships, same is the case for the youth. On the job training enhances the employability factor of the youth and channelize them towards formal employment. Be it manufacturing or services or agriculture sector, apprenticeships are possible in any sector and any job roles which gives optional to both technical and non-technical graduates to take up apprenticeship opportunities to make their career. The youth should go for apprenticeships for the following reasons:

  • Learning by doing is the best way to acquire the capability
  • Earning while learning gives an opportunity to earn minimum wages as a stipend
  • The apprenticeship certificate adds to the opening experience balance which makes an apprentice employable in the industry
  • Employees who start their career through apprenticeships have faster career growth
  • Research suggests that over a period of time, an employee with apprenticeship background tend earns 2 times more than a qualified employee

Employers tend to look at apprenticeships to mould the raw individual into a productive resource. The whole journey of apprenticeship is an evaluation process to assess the potential of the apprentice. The trend suggests that at on an average of 30-35% of the apprentices get absorbed by the organization where they have undergone the apprenticeship training. Hence the apprentices should take the training seriously. Employers look for following skills in apprentices while they undergo apprenticeship training: 

  1. Attitude and Aptitude. First and foremost, that employers look for is a candidate with the right attitude which reflects in their demeanour, willingness to learn and are ambitious. Sound understanding or knowledge of the domain is desirable by the employer which is then put into application by ‘learning by doing’. Hence the candidate must have an aptitude towards the subject and to articulate it by ‘learning by doing’. 
  1. Discipline. Employers are extremely particular about the discipline the apprentice exhibit while undergoing training. The conduct with the colleagues, attendance and punctuality are the basic hygiene that is expected out of the trainees. Almost every employer evaluates the apprentice on this parameter.
  1. Growth Mindset. Employers are looking for candidates who have a growth mindset and not stuck up with stereotype outlook. Growth mindset reflects through the learnability and curiosity of an individual. The willingness to learn and displaying constant improvement in the output is expected out of an apprentice while training.
  1. Transversal Skills. Or transferable skills are those which are transferable irrespective of the job role and the subject matter or the domain. Taking initiative, creativity, analytical ability, teamwork, problem-solving, soft skills, leadership skill, etc. are some of the transversal skills that employers look for in the apprentices as part of the evaluation process during the training. These are also essential employability skills irrespective you have limited domain knowledge, but one gains proficiency while doing a task during the training.
  1. Digital Savvy. In today’s digital world, ICT skills (Information, communication, Technology) are important which is preferred by the employers across sectors and for any job roles. Digital skills are the new soft skills, and COVID 19 has made it more desirable by any organization as digitization and automation is on rapid adoption irrespective of industry. A basic understanding of digital skills will always be advantageous.

Apprentice tends to make a career faster than a qualified individual as employers look for capabilities. But while apprenticeships help to prepare one’s self for a career, continuous learning has to become a habit to remain employable and for career growth. Upskilling and reskilling should be a practice that every organization must invest in to upgrade its workforce and likewise, every individual must make use of every learning opportunity to constantly evolve and gain capabilities. We can only make ourselves future proof professionally wise through effective learning.

 

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