Easing the Apprenticeship Act will defeat the purpose of serving the interests of workers, said S. Ramadorai, Vice-Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.

India produces only 2.4 lakh apprentices annually while Germany has 60 per cent of its student population entering work as apprentices. Learning on the job is an accepted best practice.

Graduate internships

“Even as we work with the Central Government on regulatory changes, industry can come forward by initiating internship programmes,” he said at the 176{+t}{+h} Annual General Meeting of the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Today, mainly professional courses such as MBA and engineering programmes have an embedded internship element. Some institutions such as the Madras Christian College have taken a pioneering step in making internships part of graduate degrees.

“I hope more colleges will follow. But, this is a supply side push,” said Ramadorai, who is also the Prime Minister's adviser for the National Skill Development Council.

Invest in training

Ramadorai urged all companies to show leadership and work out an institutionalised process of recruiting interns. This is a call for leadership from the demand side with the commitment to invest in training, he said. Industry cannot stand by and complain about lack of job-ready skills.

“It must take on part responsibility of training as well, not just for itself but for the longer good and betterment of the sector as a whole. By impacting the ecosystem, eventually all organisations within will benefit,” he explained.

The IT industry, he said, is a standing example today as it reaps the benefits of moves that were made back in the 1970s in working with academia in developing talent, he said.

“The Madras Chamber can play a stellar role in enabling this. You could be a role model for other industry bodies to follow and the country may eventually see an Internship Act being promulgated in the future,” he said.

According to S.N. Subrahmanyam, Whole-Time Director and Senior Vice-President, L & T Construction, infrastructure development in the country is complicated. Going forward, it will get more so.

Many projects are being planned by the Government through the public-private-partnership model. However, they are not delivering good returns on investment to companies, he said.

Meanwhile, T. Shivaraman, Managing Director & CEO, Shriram EPC Ltd, has been elected President of the Chamber for the year 2012-13. S.G. Prabhakaran, Chairman, XS Real Properties, has been elected Vice President of the Chamber.

MCCI – still going strong at 175

Eighteen businessmen of Madras met at the office of Binny & Co on September 29, 1836, and unanimously resolved “that an Association be formed in Madras as the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI)”.

These founding members, with John Alves Arbuthnot as the Chairman, comprised the first committee of the Chamber.

The first proposal, emphasising the need for a harbour, was mooted by the Chamber and in March 1875 work on the Madras Port commenced after seven years of consideration by Her Majesty’s Government!

MCCI is now a promoter Chamber of the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India and also a member of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry

T.T. Srinivasa Raghavan, the outgoing President of the Chamber said: “The most critical factors in the longevity of an institution are its internal vitality, its ability to reinvent itself periodically and remain relevant and contemporary at all times. “The Madras Chamber is a shining embodiment of these qualities.”

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 4, 2012)
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