Professional courses

Free time and the dismal job market push students towards vocational courses and skills development

Due to college closures over the past year during the pandemic, many students have started using their free time to search for jobs and learn skills that will give them an edge in the job market. Online courses for skill development are in high demand among students, as are professional courses in specialized fields.

Dipika Sharma, a final year student at the Indira Institute of Mass Communication, is actively looking for a job and finds that opportunities are hard to come by. “I took online courses in digital marketing to boost my resume. When I’m too tense about the future, I try to listen to music, watch movies, exercise or help my family at home,” she says.

While some students felt demotivated due to the lockdown, Siddhart Sarang, a second-year student at Satyawati College, University of Delhi, who is staying in Kothrud, is using his free time to research climate issues. He has had a keen interest in the climate since he was in Class VII. “I wrote a few articles on environmental issues, but the company didn’t pay me as they promised. However, money problems won’t stop me from writing and campaigning. I will keep trying to make a change,” he adds.

The pandemic has been difficult for college students as there is uncertainty about studies, social life and the future. Mridul Age, an MBA student at Amity Global Business School, has completed a number of certified courses ranging from Effective Communication to Strategic Management. “One thing that continues to worry me is my college, I had called them yesterday and they still don’t know when they are going to start physical classes. I have moved to Pune but there is no sign of start of my university,” explains Mridul.

“Young people are very concerned right now about a stable future with a decent amount of money,” says Kunal Singh, a final-year student at KJ Somaiya College in Mumbai, who is worried about the unemployment rate. He started taking accounting courses to have a secure and “respected” future in society. Outside of class, what keeps Kunal going is the news. He has been affected by the current employment scenario and worries about the uncertainty surrounding even the thought of getting paid.

Saakshi Jadav, a freelance writer and a graduate of the Indira Institute in Pune, has focused on developing interpersonal and communication skills, which has helped her attract many overseas clients. “I tried to get out of my comfort zone and reached out to freelance writers on Zoom calls and webinars to understand how the market works. I also took training in digital marketing,” she says She says the market chart is going down every day and the freelancer is not much affected by it, she has given employment to three other people under her.

“Symbiosis has a reputation for high placement offers, but this time only 110 out of 260 students were placed,” said a 3rd-year BBA student at the Symbiosis Center for Management Studies. She is one of 110 people who have found a job, but she says it has not been easy even after preparing for the aptitude test, attending classes and improving her skills. She took part in 10 recruitment processes and was shortlisted for two. “Some of my friends are trying to get a master’s degree and show up for recruitment. This is because of the panic and uncertainty that is currently reigning in the country,” she adds.

Piyush Arora from Maharaja Agrasen University, Himachal Pradesh says his life has been unproductive lately, so apart from online classes, he tries to read books and take online courses related to BTech. He helps his friends with articles and research in order to sharpen his own skills.

Students, sometimes, feel so unproductive throughout the day that they spend their time watching shows on Netflix, he says. Some students have even complained about the endless load of homework and projects that they hardly have time for themselves or their families. While some have started their own YouTube channel, some are invested in learning the stock market.