in Skill Training should be an Equaliser
2020 came with an unprecedented circumstance. The entire country came to
a standstill. The Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown and physical
distancing measures forced skill training institutes to adopt innovative
measures. This forced innovation majorly involved digital interventions.
Digital transformation proved to be a glocal movement, where global
problems had local solutions and vice versa. Community radios, WhatsApp,
online meeting platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Webex, simple phone
calls Ė whatever had the reach and availability was picked up by skill
training providers. For those who had access to the digital means have
taken a quantum leap in terms of know-how of technology.
We at Development Alternatives have multiple such examples to share. A
new culture of digital sharing has emerged as an equaliser. As an
implementation partner for the Skill Training for Employment
Preparedness Programme being run at the Government Girls Inter College,
Jwalapur, Haridwar, we saw many girls sharing the single mobile phone
with fathers or brothers. They made efforts to understand the
technology. At our vocational training centres like in Rajasthan and
Chhattisgarh where trainings were disrupted due to the national
lockdown, students resumed their learning through online portals. In
remote areas we saw trainees and trainers both locating a suitable
location in fields to catch internet signals. Mobile phones were passed
like batons to ensure that siblings, friends, cousins or neighbours
donít miss their classes. In fact, under post-sustainability
interventions of our flagship programme TARA Akshar, neo-literate
artisans in Bhagwanpur received online training and handholding for
weaving new designs. One of the facilitators carried a laptop to provide
master trainings from Delhi.
In terms of placements, recruiters have been able to hire amid the
pandemic, thanks to internet connectivity and AI-enabled candidate
screening software. At DAís bridge2naukri portal, which provides pre-
and post-placement assistance, we could conduct multiple interview
drives on the same day using digital tools.
There were hurdles of accessibility and affordability, but at the same
time there was also the will to sail through. Millions lost their jobs
or dropped out trainings and formal education. There are many who have
travelled backwards in terms of development. But it could have been even
worse if we did not have technical intervention.
Owing to this digital transformation, new public-private partnerships
have emerged to provide digital equipment, training and accessibility to
teachers and disadvantaged learners. At the same time, approaches to the
assessment and certification of skills are examples of collaborative
partnerships forged as a response to the crisis. Amidst the lockdown,
the National Skill Development Corporationís (NSDC) eLearning aggregator
portal, eSkill India, offered to skill seekers more than 400 courses
curated from various knowledge providers. eSkill India partnered with
EnglishScore, SAS India, Saylor Academy (USA) UpGrad and many other
partners, thereby providing skill seekers with varied online
Despite existing handicaps, there has been a tremendous transformation.
According to the Nasscomís Strategic Review 2021 titled ĎThe New World:
The Future is Virtualí, India added more than 1,600 tech startups in
2020, making it the third largest tech start-up hub in the world.
Of course, all this might sound great, but we still have rockier paths
to tread. Infrastructure, accessibility and quality trainers are still a
challenge for digital trainings. There have been instances where
trainees dropped out as they found digital mediums monotonous.
Public-private partnerships and a government with a vision and will are
required to ensure that the digital transformation in the skilling space
is inclusive and it bridges the gaps and not accentuates them. [With
inputs from Shaurya Garg]
According to the India Skills Report, the maximum skill gap that emerged
during the pandemic was in the following areas:
Natural Language Processing
Chatbots in banks, robots in manufacturing,
and AI in pharma and healthcare are just a few instances of digital
transformation indicating the need of new skills areas.■
Baruah, A. (2021, February 15). India adds
1600 tech startups in 2020: Nasscom. Retrieved August 6, 2021, from Live
(2021). India Skills Report. Wheebox Talent
Assessments, Taggd, CII, AIU, UNDP, AICTE.
ILO, World Bank, 2021, Skills development in
the time of COVID-19: Taking stock of the initial responses in technical
and vocational education and training,
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