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JustJobs Network: 10 Million Apprentices in 10 Years

In India, there is a widening chasm between education and employment.This is either because the content of education and skills training is misaligned with what employers want, or because these systems are churning out more individuals with a certain degree or vocation than the market has jobs for. In the wake of the pandemic, as businesses – big and small – shed jobs at a time when there is already a lack of productive employment, supply – as opposed to demand-driven – training will continue to be the fateful norm. When the link between education and employment is broken, it undermines the efficacy of the education/skills training systems and the functioning of the labour market, but the biggest casualties are the youth seeking to chart a secure economic trajectory.

India’s 361 million youth between the ages of 15 to 29 represent just under 27 percent of the country’s population. Inspired by the narrative of an emerging market economy with high levels of economic growth, India’s youth have rising aspirations. Yet youth unemployment stands at 17.8 percent, three times the adult rate (6.1 percent). Youth are also more likely to be in contractual and informal work.

Apprenticeships – the practice of complementing academic or vocational study with on-the-job training – are a way to mend the broken link between education and employment. They connect youth to potential employers. They allow a young person to balance income generation with education -especially important to the economically vulnerable. Unfortunately, despite the promise of apprenticeships and the legislative and administrative underpinnings, apprenticeships have yet to gain traction. With a labour force of just under 500 million, estimates suggest that India only has approximately 300,000 apprentices.

Amid an ailing labour market and a sub-optimal skills training regime, the JustJobs Network will prepare a research report that hones in on an aspect that arguably holds promise – apprenticeships. This report presents a path to reforming India’s apprenticeship system to build a model that will expand apprenticeships to ten million in ten years, and make them more effective.

(1) Dewan, S. and U. Sarkar. From Education to Employability: Preparing South Asian Youth for the World of Work (JustJobs Network and UNICEF ROSA, 2017)
(2) Dewan S. and L. Khan. Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability Education, Skills and Employability for Indian Youth (JustJobs Network and UNICEF India, 2019)
(3) United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. 2017. World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, custom data acquired via website.
(4) World Bank and ILO. Possible Futures for the Indian Apprenticeship System: Options Paper for India. (WB and ILO, 2013)


  • Pan-India


  • Primary data collection and analysis
  • Secondary data collection and analysis


  • Education
  • Livelihoods
  • Skilling/Vocational education