No, it is not mandatory to cover apprentices under the Provident Fund Act. The definition of ‘employee’ under Provident Fund Act in India is;
“…any person who is employed for wages in any kind of work, manual or otherwise, in or in connection with the work of an establishment and who gets his wages directly or indirectly from the employer, and includes any person –
(i) employed by or through a contractor in or in connection with the work of the establishment;
(ii) engaged as an apprentice, not being an apprentice engaged under the Apprentices Act, 1961 or under standing orders of the establishment.”
Apprentices engaged under the Standing Orders of the establishment or under the Apprentices Act are excluded from the definition of “employees” under the Provident Fund Act.
Therefore it is not mandatory to cover apprentices under Provident Fund Act.