LOOKING at the lack of interest amongst industrialists in setting up their own apprenticeship programmes voluntarily, the government had to promulgate the Apprenticeship Ordinance 1962 and the Apprenticeship Rules 1966 to make the scheme mandatory for industrial establishments employing 50 or more people with a minimum of five workers as apprentice.

Although so much advancement has taken place in the industrial sphere and the needs of learning job skills have also changed substantially, since then there have been no amendments to the legislation on apprenticeship training.

Recently, the Workers Employers Bilateral Council of Pakistan (Webcop) has taken upon itself the task of suggesting amendments to the apprenticeship law wherever required and making it relevant to present-day industries. Webcop’s recommendations will be presented to the government for incorporating them in the legislation.

In the last meeting held on March 31, the systems of apprenticeship prevalent in Australia, Austria, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland also came under discussion. Their schemes have kept pace with changing needs of the industry, and encompass not only the non-management but also jobs in the management cadre.

Their respective governments also take keen interest in apprenticeship training and in some cases share the cost of running the scheme.

The need is to bring changes in the apprenticeship scheme in Pakistan at the macro-level and adopt the systems applied in advanced countries.

However, industrialists, as well as the government, are not prepared to carry out such a change. Hence, we are left with only suggesting improvements in the law to at least make it more realistic and give the right direction to the scheme.

A number of recommendations to change the overall structure of the apprenticeship scheme have been formulated by Webcop, some of which are as follows:

(a) Scope of the Apprenticeship Ordinance, which is at present confined to industrial establishments, be extended to commercial and service sectors.

(b) The programme should be integrated with the other stream of technical and vocational training to provide horizontal and vertical mobility to apprentices for better career prospects.

(c) Apprentices should be excluded from the definition of workman as given under various labour laws and they should only be governed by the apprenticeship ordinance.

Since this is the training phase of the careers of apprentices, the focus of their attention should be on learning only. The responsibility also rests with employers and trade unions to provide them with an environment which does not allow them to digress from their goal.

PARVEZ RAHIM Karachi

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