Apprenticeships: The Key Innovation for Building Efficient Talent Supply Chains

This online event spotlighted the potential for work-based learning (WBL) programs, including apprenticeships, to help companies cultivate skills and build an effective talent supply chain.

In today’s rapidly evolving economies and workforces, the demand for skilled and productive talent is constantly increasing. To address such needs, WBL programs, including apprenticeships, have emerged as key innovations in cultivating skills development to building strong talent supply chains. TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship and GAN Global organized this second webinar on 29 June 2023, as part of a joint virtual series that aims to explore in deeper detail specific themes regarding WBL and apprenticeships as tools to increase Indian youth’s employability in a variety of sectors. The most recent webinar, “Apprenticeships: The Key Innovation for Building Effective Talent Supply Chains”, brought together policymakers, industry representatives, and members of the private sector to discuss the transformative power of WBL in India:

  • Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India
  • Sumit Kumar, CBO, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship
  • Kathryn Rowan, Interim Executive Director, GAN Global and Vice President, Human Resources, Zone LATAM & Global Youth Lead, Nestlé
  • Gary Workman, Executive Director, Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) and GAN Australia
  • Arjun Singh, Chief Human Resources Officer, Dixon Technologies India Limited
  • Chetan Patole, Head, Talent Acquisition and Employer Branding, L’Oréal
  • Sanobar Patel, Assistant General Manager, Learning, L’Oréal

The event aimed to raise awareness of the potential of WBL and apprenticeships as cost-effective strategies for attracting and retaining skilled talent. By highlighting WBL and apprenticeship case studies from the private sector, the webinar strived to encourage exchanges of best practices and lessons learned between companies. Additionally, the country-specific approach to the event helped identify ways to lower barriers and make apprenticeships more attractive to the private sector, government, and individual learners in India.

“We view this partnership with TeamLease Degree Apprenticeships, as a win-win – raising awareness on how to create a skilled workforce, contributing to the economic growth of the country, and improving prospects for young Indians.”

Kathryn Rowan, Interim Executive Director, GAN Global and Vice President, Human Resources, Zone LATAM & Global Youth Lead, Nestlé

Apprenticeships: The Key Innovation to Solve India’s Talent Supply Chain Bottlenecks

One of the key messages emphasized during the webinar was the vital role that apprenticeships play in building an effective and productive talent supply chain in India’s rapidly expanding economy. Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, delivered a keynote speech that set the context for apprenticeships in India. Mr Tiwari emphasized the regulatory perspectives and the vision toward a skilled India, highlighting the role of apprenticeships in addressing talent supply chain bottlenecks. He provided insights on what the government has been doing to ensure the scalability of apprenticeship programs in India:

  • On policy, Mr Tiwari explained that work is underway on the creation of guidelines for apprenticeships, the clear determination of the role government will play in WBL, the simplification of the Apprenticeships Act to make it more accessible to companies and individuals alike, and the definition of the rights of both apprentices and enterprises.
  • Mr Tiwari spoke of the importance of informing enterprises on how apprenticeships can bridge their operational gaps by educating potential learners on the benefits of enrolling in an apprenticeship program.
  • Finally, he highlighted the importance of introducing the philosophy of apprenticeships into the national education system, an effort that has been led by TeamLease through introducing apprenticeships into formal education institutions, providing apprentices with both theoretical and practical learning opportunities.

Through these strategies and more partnerships, government bodies and companies can continue to build upon the foundation laid by the National Education Policy of India to skill youth for in-demand jobs and empower individuals with improved career prospects that can help address socio-economic gaps in Indian society. Under Mr Tiwari’s leadership, apprenticeships have doubled over the last two years. And while there has been a swift increase in uptake, Mr Tiwari also warned of challenges which include a need for certification, employers taking on apprentices as learners and not as essential employees, and, apprenticeship being recognized for the social and economic benefits it yields.

“Apprenticeships are the best model of skilling and efficiently utilising a workforce, providing a win-win situation for enterprises, students and the economy. We have made significant changes to the way apprenticeships are practised in India recently, doubling the figures year by year, but there is still a long way to go. Close collaboration between MSMEs and the government organisations is the only way to ensure an apprenticeship system that works for all stakeholders involved.”

Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India

Innovations in Systemic Implementation – A Global Example of the Group Training Organization (GTO) Model to Address Indian MSMEs Skills Shortages

The webinar also shed light on global perspectives of apprenticeships. While apprenticeships have historically been perceived as a second-best option in many parts of the world, some countries have succeeded in creating attractive and emerging systems. With changing industries and increasing demand for flexible on-the-job learning from workers, companies are focused on remaining nimble and pushing the boundaries of solutions for complex problems. Gary Workman, from Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) and GAN Australia, discussed the systemic innovations in Australia through the Group Training Organization (GTO) model.

This model, which employs apprentices and trainees and “leases” them to host employers, offers a structured approach to address skill needs. In Australia, the GTO model is based on acting as an intermediary by supporting the needs of businesses, particularly Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).  With around 65% of apprentices in the country being employed by MSMEs, this model helps businesses to absorb the costs, time, and risks it takes to hire, train and rotate apprentices. Mr Workman also explained that the GTO model, which has been in place in Australia for 40 years, is very successful in helping vulnerable populations and groups that would otherwise have more challenges entering the job market.

Mr Workman discussed the possibility of using the GTO model in Australia as a blueprint to help Indian MSMEs reap the benefits of apprenticeships, which include higher retention and productivity, without incurring high costs associated with managing apprenticeship programs. Part of the trick to getting this model to work is getting enough MSMEs involved in the system so that apprentices can rotate to other host employers as required. Some of the challenges include a poor match between the apprentice and MSME, completion rates, ensuring the apprentice has the opportunity to develop well rounded skills/ qualification and variety of work and personal challenges such as evolving transport needs, etc.

However, the advantage of the GTO model includes acting as a safety net for industry, the ability to target more vulnerable groups, and providing direct support to the MSME sector, including ensuring organizational safety and health standards. Mr Kumar and Mr Workman debated on the potential implementations of the GTO model in India, citing the significantly larger size of the Indian workforce as a requirement for well-established industrial and wage arrangements, appropriate information-sharing mechanisms, and a robust support system for individuals and companies alike to ensure successful apprenticeships. In Australia, the GTOs represent about 20% of the market share, employing around 25K apprentices, while in India, there are about 60 million MSMEs to account for. While apprenticeships have often been viewed as a second-best option in many parts of the world, as seen in the case of Australia, companies are increasingly recognizing their potential to address specific skills requirements. As industries become more technologically driven, companies are pushing the boundaries of innovation, including apprenticeships, to diversify their talent and strengthen their workforces.

If our goal is to scale apprenticeships and make them work for the economy; in addition to linking it with Higher Education and removing the social stigmas associated with the concept, the program must be made more appealing for MSMEs across the country through implementation of something like Australia’s GTO model. This model fits in well with the Third Party Aggregator (TPA) infrastructure that is already being developed in India and would allow for the creation of more effective, varied and accredited apprenticeship and degree apprenticeship programs.

Sumit Kumar, CBO, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship

Innovations in Practice

The second discussion session focused on innovative strategies employed by enterprises, specifically Dixon Technologies India Limited and L’Oréal. It showcased innovation in practice within the country context, providing a platform for both companies to share their experiences and lessons while highlighting the benefits of apprenticeship programs for talent retention, enhanced performance, and cost reduction.

Arjun Singh, from Dixon Technologies India Limited, shared some of what he considers to be the most important characteristics of a successful apprenticeship program. Mr Singh believes that the same level of importance and support should be offered to full-time employees and apprentices alike and that apprenticeship programs must be designed to add value and provide appropriate exposure to career-shaping experiences for the entire period. Mr Singh explained that India is growing at a fast pace and the government is pushing enterprises to aspire to become global suppliers; therefore, investing in apprenticeship is crucial to the growth of companies and the economy.

The apprenticeship program’s crucial contribution lies in its ability to create a talent funnel. Currently, we have around 3000 apprentices and approximately 50%-60% of them seamlessly transition into our workforce. We prioritise each trainee’s growth by providing a minimum of two skill development processes during the program. The apprenticeship program not only helps meet our talent needs but also adds significant value to the individuals involved.”

Arjun Singh, Chief Human Resources Officer, Dixon Technologies India Limited

Mr Chetan Patole and Ms Sanobar Patel commented on L’Oréal’s focus on work-based experiential learning, providing learning opportunities for apprentices and trainees beyond L’Oréal internally to enable individuals to pursue other careers or even become entrepreneurs themselves. They shared a program that has been ongoing since 2005 by its hair academy. The goal of the training is for individuals to start their salons and become nationally and internationally certified hairdressers. As the Beauty and Salon Industries are intrinsically connected, by offering employability opportunities to individuals, L’Oréal is contributing to industry growth and sustainability. The training also targets disadvantaged women, with 8,000 young women already trained.

Mr Patole and Ms Patole also shared details about the L’Oréal BOOST programme launched in 2022 which provides upskilling and mentoring opportunities, targeting underprivileged youth. Through this programme, young people and students can have access to 33,000 Coursera classes and seven hours of mentoring. So far, the programme has impacted 6,000 lives. According to Ms Patole, the world has changed greatly, so there is a greater need to focus on future-proofing careers through WBL.


In closing, Mr Kumar highlighted the importance of its partnership with GAN Global to raise awareness around the value of WBL and apprenticeships so it can gain traction in India and around the globe. By embracing apprenticeships as a key innovation, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforces, bridge the skills gap, and build effective talent supply chains that will drive sustainable growth in the years to come. Watch the full recording below: