Apprenticeship Training in Pakistan

What is apprenticeship? There are two ways to acquire skills. One is through classroom learning and the other is through work-based learning or on the job training (OJT).


There are two ways to acquire skills. One is through classroom learning and the other is through work-based learning or on the job training (OJT). Apprenticeship system is the rather less travelled route to gain qualification and workplace experience. According to ILO and Pakistan Apprenticeship Ordinance 1962, apprenticeship is "any system by which an employer undertakes by contract to employ a young person and to train him or have him trained systematically for a trade for a period the duration of which has been fixed in advance and in the course of which the apprentice is bound to work in the employer's service". As this definition clarifies, the period of apprenticeship is fixed in advance and the training is done under a signed contract.

Relevant Laws

As mentioned above, the Apprenticeship Ordinance 1962 is the relevant law governing the system of on the job training in the country. Both federal and provincial governments have notified apprenticeship rules in their relevant jurisdictions.

Applicability of Law

The Apprenticeship Ordinance is applicable to all industrial establishments (involved in production)

  1. Employing 50 or more workers,
  2. With 5 workers in an apprenticeable trade

The law requires that at least 20% of total persons employed in apprenticeable trade (s) are required to be recruited by the industrial establishment.

Take an example. If there are 80 workers in an industrial establishment while 30 are working in apprenticeable trades, the organization is to employ at least 20% of these 30 workers as apprentices i.e., 6 apprentices would be employed for a specified period of time.

Currently, there are around 160 apprenticeable trades in the country. It is the responsibility of competent authority i.e., government to declare a trade as apprenticeable i.e. where apprentices can to be trained.

The reason for low number of apprenticeable trades is that the current apprenticeship law is applicable only to the industrial establishments involved in production while it does not take into account the huge commercial and service related establishments.

Moreover, the law is applicable only on large employers i.e. employing 50 or more workers. Scope of apprenticeship can be increased if this limit is decreased to 30 workers in an industrial concern.

Entry Requirements For Apprenticeship

  1. Only an Industrial Establishment employing 50 or more workers with at least 5 in an apprenticeable trade has to hire apprentices
  2. Age limit for apprentices is 15-20 years (in Sindh Province, this limit is 14-25 years). However, the Competent Authority can extend age limit for some of the trades. The fundamental requirement is that no child below the age of fourteen should be hired as an apprentice.
  3. The minimum educational qualification is Matric (SSC). However, it varies from trade to trade and is publicly notified by the employer in advance with the approval of competent authority

Recruitment and Selection

Recruitment of an apprentice is done by the following a set procedure.

    1. Vacancies are advertised in important newspapers
    2. Employer also provides information on educational qualification of apprentices
    3. Employment exchanges are also intimated about these vacancies (in Sindh only)
    4. A written test of the candidates is held
    5. A viva-voce test i.e. those who qualify the written test are interviewed
    6. Final selection is made and selected candidates are informed accordingly


Apprenticeship Contract

Once an apprentice is selected, a contract is signed between the employer and apprentice. This contract stipulates duties both for employer and apprentice. The contract, once signed, can't be altered or amended without the prior approval from the competent authority.

Every apprentice undergoes a probationary period of three months from the date of his appointment. During the probation period, the employer as well as the apprentice is free to terminate the contract.

Apprenticeship Period

The apprenticeship period is decided in advance and the employer specifies this period in the advertisement. The competent authority determines the duration of apprenticeship by taking into account:

    1. Nature and job description of trade
    2. Expected degree of skill expected by a worker before entering the employment

Likely duration required for attaining the desired proficiency in trade

  1. Practical training and related theoretical instruction and job-practice needed in a trade for development of desired skill level
  2. Minimum educational qualification as laid down for entrance as an apprentice


Normally, the period of apprenticeship ranges from six months to three years.

Cost of Apprenticeship

All the costs related to apprenticeship program are borne by the employer. This includes training costs, theoretical instruction costs, stipend costs, advertisement costs etc.

Composition of Apprenticeship Program

The apprenticeship program has two components

  1. On-Job-Training (OJT)/Theoretical Instruction
  2. Off-Job-Training/Practical Training

The law requires that at least 75% of an apprentice's working hours be devoted to practical training while 25% be allocated for theoretical instruction. The theoretical instruction is arranged in apprenticeship training centers and vocational training centers. All costs of such trainings are borne by employer.

Stipend for An Apprentice

In accordance with Apprenticeship Rules 1966, the employer shall pay a weekly or monthly stipend to the apprentice at following rates.

  1. 50% of the wages of a skilled worker during the first year of apprenticeship
  2. 60% of the wages of a skilled worker during the second year of apprenticeship
  3. 70% of the wages of a skilled worker during the third year of apprenticeship
  4. 100% of the wages of a skilled worker on completion of three years of apprenticeship (if it continues)

Working hours, leave and holidays are same for apprentices as for other workers.

Apprenticeship Vs Job Offer

Apprenticeship, by no means, is an offer of employment. As specified in the law, it is not obligatory on an employer to offer employment to an apprentice on completion of his apprenticeship. Similarly, the law does not bind the apprentice to keep serving the same employer on completion of his apprenticeship term. Hence, an apprentice does not automatically become a permanent workman of that industrial concern.

Income Tax Relief for Employer

An employer, who starts apprenticeship scheme, gets income tax relief on any expenditure incurred by him on the operation of an apprenticeship program.