Finance Ministry suggests restarting decades-old apprenticeship program in railways

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The Special Class Railway Apprentice (SCRA) program was discontinued in 2015.

New Delhi: The finance ministry recommended that the railways restart a 94-year-old apprenticeship program, which was cut short in 2015, to “catch young talent” and tailor them to the demands of the rail transport industry.

The Special Class Railway Apprentice (SCRA) program was designed in 1927 where applicants were selected by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to undergo undergraduate training in mechanical engineering at the Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Jamalpur.

The device was discontinued in 2015.

In its report on railway rationalization, the Ministry of Finance recommended that the Ministry of Railways reintroduce the program, which involves hands-on training in the specialized area of ​​technology used in the railways.

The proposal is part of a report from the Ministry of Finance which made a series of recommendations, including the merger of rail PSUs and also IT organizations like RailTel, CRIS and IRCTC into a single entity.

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The report also recommended streamlining the Board of Railways and a review of non-core activities like running schools, catering to hospitals – most of which were recommended by the Bibek Debroy committee earlier.

The report prepared by the senior economic adviser of the Ministry of Finance recommended that the apprenticeship program be reintroduced in railways at the National Institute of Railways and Transport (NRTI), Varodara.

Explaining the rationale for its recommendation, the finance ministry said the current practice of taking graduates from mainstream universities and spending resources to retrain them in rail-specific technology results in “depletion of the resources of the industry.” industry ”and delays the induction of these skilled labor.

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Stating that railways require specialized training and skills beyond what is part of a regular classroom graduation program offered by normal academic institutes, the report suggests that it is imperative to reintroduce the apprenticeship program that involves hands-on training in the specialized area of ​​technology. used in railways.

“The report proposed that the NRTI certify a learning program along lines similar to those of the National Defense Academy and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology.

As part of this program, graduates of pre-selected schools (UPSC to complete a separate examination) (class 12 students) will be offered structured programs of technical and degree level where the course program is tailored to meet the requirements of the rail transport sector, ”the report says. .

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“This will help us attract young talent and provide them with specialized training. Over time, some of the country’s top rail and transportation experts will be produced by NRTI,” the report said.

Various committees, including the Bibek Debroy committee, have emphasized the advantages of the learning system, even recommending that the SCRA course not be confined to the mechanical department alone but extended to all railway departments.

Although it is not clear whether the railways would relaunch the program in the near future when it was in high demand by students.

Between 2007 and 2014, a total of 8,022,137 candidates entered the competition organized by the UPSC to fill 318 vacant positions at the SCRA.

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