Challenges with Skill Development Programmes Amid COVID-19

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The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed July 15 in 2014 as World Youth Skills Day to recognise the strategic significance of preparing young people for work environments, dignified labour, and entrepreneurship. Ever since, World Youth Skills Day activities have given a unique chance of interaction among young people, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, businesses, employer and worker groups, regulators, and development agencies. Participants emphasised the ever-increasing importance of skills as the world moves toward a more sustainable style of development.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, India’s developing Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) ecosystem encountered several obstacles. Organizations were forced to remain closed for 7-8 months, till September 2020, due to the nationwide lockdown.

This ecosystem includes a variety of players, like vocational education providers including such schools and higher education institutions; short-term skill development programmes endorsed by charitable donations and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC); and public and private Industrial Training Institutes (ITI).

Some main challenges and obstacles are as follow:

Shift to online platforms

Despite the fact that internet availability in India has risen from 27 percent to 50 percent in the last five years, the majority of youngsters who participate in skill development programmes have extremely limited access to smartphones and web access. Prior to the announcement of the nationwide lockdown last year, 25-30% of pupils did not own smartphones.

The epidemic has increased the digital divide between these pupils and those with wealth. It was tough to reach them through any type of internet programme.

Fewer Job Opportunities

When the lockdown was relaxed from across the nation, job placements—a critical indication of success for all short-term training programs—were negatively impacted. This was mostly due to a few factors. First, there was a negative impact on the demand-supply cycle, resulting in fewer employment vacancies. Second, the worry of contracting COVID-19 caused several children and their parents to postpone placements.

Third, a lack of transportation infrastructure, particularly public transportation, which is the preferred method of transportation for the vast majority of Indians, made traveling to businesses problematic even for students who had accepted a job offer.

Low on Funds

When the lockdown was prolonged in September-October 2020, financial sources for all government-sponsored programmes were mostly unavailable. Smaller skill development organisations were put under a lot of chronic stress, and they were compelled to reduce their project personnel.

During this period, several of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) foundations have given their charity partners a lot of leeway to test new techniques, such as virtual delivery and expanding digital infrastructure assistance.

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