Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Need a 100-day apprenticeship programme NOT nrega?

Manish Sabharwal of Teamlease writes:

  • NAC is upset that the NREGS violates the Minimum Wages Act. But everybody knows that NREGS violates 37 labour laws, including the Provident Fund Act, ESI Act, Industrial Disputes Act and Contract Labour Act. I have never received a reply to my repeated letters to the government asking for the rationale of the temporary job apartheid under which a non-fiscal, minimum wage and social security paying 100-day job offered by the private sector is viewed as a disease to be eradicated, while the inefficient, non-market, non-real job based NREGS is considered the labour market innovation equivalent of cell phones.

  • But NREGS is here to stay and the good is not the enemy of the great. So we must tweak the current structure of NREGS payments to be apprenticeship stipends for 100 days of on-the-job training. These apprenticeships could be complemented or combined with 100 days of classroom or satellite training to produce skilled manpower that earns wages which reflect productivity. If the NAC really wants to innovate, it must propose a solution that amends the Apprentice Act of 1961 and transfers some NREGS money to the starving but effective modular employment skills programme of the ministry of labour. A 100-day apprenticeship under NREGS that combined learning-while-earning and learning-by-doing would surely move the needle on the horrible skill deficit that keeps our people out of jobs or in working poverty. The current campaign to equate minimum wages with NREGS payments almost legislates that the bridge to productivity becomes the destination. In the name of our poor who need a chance and not charity, it must be resisted

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