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NEW DELHI: To help migrant workers find their footing in the organised sector, the Centre plans to train and place around 300,000 of them in rural industries, and other district-level formal job clusters.

The Union government has communicated with 116 district administrations and is chalking out a plan on formal employment engagement of a segment of these migrant workers.

“We have asked the 116 district administrations and directed them to explore the placement of migrants as apprentices in rural industries. This is to help and mitigate the crisis arisen due to massive reverse migration," said a government official, who declined to be named.

Districts will explore apprenticeship possibilities in manufacturing and services sectors, including hotels and hospitality and tourism sectors.

This comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to launch the rural public works scheme--Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan--on Saturday. The scheme will deploy budgetary funds of 50,000 crore from among the outlays for 25 existing welfare schemes to address the plight of migrant workers who, threatened with job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic, have returned to their native villages from the cities.

As per the official communication, a copy of which was reviewed by Mint, 150,000 migrants will be offered short-term skills, another 150,000 will receive certification of their skills through a programme - Recognition of Prior Learning.

"We are already aware that the covid-19 has created an unprecedented social and economic disruption leading to large scale reverse migration across the country. This migration is likely to cause a lot of stress on the local economy and the society," said a letter written by the ministry of skill development, highlighting that the move "intends to take up district specific demand driven skilling for sustainable livelihood opportunities."

Other than skill mapping, districts have been asked to identify job roles depending on the demand of local industries and "survey the eligible enterprises for apprenticeship at the district level."

While the PM rural job scheme to be implemented from Saturday will offer informal works immediately for a period of 125 days, this will help create formal work for 300,000 people. Under apprenticeship, an industry can employ an apprentice for three years at a stipend which on par with minimum wages of semi-skilled workers.

“It has two benefits – relatively longer job engagement in a formal set up of migrants, two - hands-on training at a shop floor and a possible reduction in employee cost as apprentices get paid less than a permanent employee," said a person familiar with the development, adding that central government will reimburse a portion of the salary paid to an apprentice to the industry, effectively reducing the human resource cost. This will be done via the central government run Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana and the Apprenticeship Scheme.

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