India’s manufacturing sector, traditionally dominated by men, is actively working to enhance its Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) standing in the apprenticeship domain. According to the latest data from TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship, India’s leading privately owned Degree Apprenticeship program, the demand for female apprentices experienced an impressive threefold increase (equivalent to 500%) in the first quarter of FY24 when compared to Q4FY23. The encouraging trend is evident in various regions, including the Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Telangana, the Western states of Maharashtra, specifically in Aurangabad and Pune, and the Northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Haryana.
Employers across the manufacturing sectors are now embracing gender neutrality in apprentice engagement, with an encouraging 51% actively fostering equal opportunities for both men and women. Notably, what sets the apprenticeship domain apart from traditional employment practices is the commendable compensation parity in male-female apprentices. This progressive approach aligns with the industry’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment, promoting gender equality, empowering women and talent creation.
Key sectors driving this positive change are Automobiles/Auto Components and Electronic/Technology Products, where no compensation disparities exist. Additionally, sectors such as Pharmaceuticals, Telecom, and White Goods are forecasted to follow the trend in the coming months. The demand for women apprentices extends to roles including Machine Operations, especially Assembly Line Operations. This shift in the hiring landscape highlights a growing emphasis on female apprenticeships in the traditionally male-dominated manufacturing sector.
Sharing his views on this remarkable surge, Mr. Sumit Kumar, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship, said, “It is encouraging to see that the manufacturing industry is committed to improving its diversity hiring to 30-35% from current 20-25% in next 1-2 years. With the overall increase in the larger pie of apprenticeships, this percentage will naturally grow, leading to more women participating in the labour market. Q1FY24 has shown promising signs with demand across the Auto and Electronics sectors growing 3 fold and the same is reflected in the month of July’23 as well. Furthermore, India’s commitment to gender parity also reflects in the Global Gender Gap Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum where it climbed to 127 position from 135 amongst 146
Degree-linked Apprenticeships have proven to be highly effective in breaking down barriers and creating a more diverse workforce. These programs are becoming a social cause that uplifts rural women. In many cases, women from rural communities have limited access to educational and economic opportunities. By offering apprenticeships in such regions, these programs empower women to acquire essential skills and qualifications that can significantly improve their socioeconomic status. Talent creation is another significant outcome of degree-linked apprenticeships. By providing a structured pathway for skill development, these programs nurture a pipeline of talented individuals who are well-equipped to meet the demands of the industry. Employers benefit from a pool of skilled and trained workers who are ready to contribute effectively to the workforce.
In addition to technical skills, apprenticeships are also providing valuable advantages by honing essential soft skills such as time management, attention to detail, dependability, and critical thinking. These competencies further strengthen the workforce and contribute to the overall growth and success of the manufacturing sector.
“The notable enhancement in diversity hiring within apprenticeship programs stands as compelling proof of the shifting mindset in the manufacturing sector. This significant upswing not only underscores the industry’s growing recognition of the untapped potential and unique perspectives that women bring to the table but also highlights their strengths in areas such as hard work, discipline, and critical thinking. These strengths foster diversity in male-dominated sectors and play a pivotal role in uplifting women in rural communities,” Mr. Kumar added.
Recognizing the significance of apprenticeships in promoting gender equality, the Indian government has launched initiatives like the Skill India Mission and the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) to enhance women’s participation in these programs. By embracing apprenticeships as a means to bridge the gender gap, India can unlock the immense potential of its female workforce. Empowering women through skill development, equal opportunities, and representation will not only contribute to a more balanced society but also foster innovation, diversity, and sustainable economic growth. It is imperative for all stakeholders, including government, industry, and educational institutions, to come together and actively support initiatives that promote gender equality through apprenticeships.