Professional courses

The impact of COVID-19 on vocational training and its future in the post-COVID era

The crisis gives rise to new opportunities. COVID-19 is one of the greatest crises the human race has faced in the recent past. This has created a huge impact on all spheres of human life.

By Prof. Rajat Agrawal,

The crisis gives rise to new opportunities. COVID-19 is one of the greatest crises the human race has faced in the recent past. This has created a huge impact on all spheres of human life. It is possible to explain the positive and negative impacts of COVID-19. On the one hand, the use of digital tools, virtual meetings, the strengthening of health infrastructures, the search for vaccines have become possible thanks to the impact of COVID and on the other hand, many small industries, small entrepreneurs suffered huge losses.

The education sector has seen fundamental changes during COVID-19. Online courses have become the norm since last year. Many professionals have used this time to retrain. At the same time, universities and institutes of national importance have launched innovative online courses. The 2018 UGC guidelines and new education policy have helped universities with flexible online programs. The COVID 19 crisis has forced IT professionals to develop good quality virtual labs. These labs cannot replace physical labs but have become very useful in online teaching.

Professional courses like engineering and management have become more relevant during COVID19. It gave new impetus to science and technology. Fortunately, the Indian government also used this time to promote “AtmaNirbhar Bharat” which fueled the demand for skilled labor in the Indian market. However, it is also true that skills change very quickly. COVID 19 has identified a few important trends. Hyperconnectivity, cloud computing, a smarter world, cybersecurity, supercomputing will be some of the areas where a skilled workforce will be needed. Most new age universities design B Tech. courses around artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. It is important to note that traditional degrees are being replaced by some of the new degrees required by the industry. Universities are rapidly adopting the hybrid teaching model for professional courses. Students can access the best resources at the lowest cost in all subjects. Many start-ups and established players have found a new opportunity in this field.

Various companies involved in online education are collaborating with leading institutions to offer online degree courses. COVID-19 has provided working professionals with future skills. This was not possible in a routine time when companies cannot spare their employees from long-term training programs. Although companies have made short term management development programs available. The changing scenario is a big boost for executive education for professionals.

In the post COVID environment, all professional courses must strike a balance between skills and theory. Courses should regularly update the skills they impart. As more manufacturing and other fields are expected to expand in the post-COVID period, the demand for professionals will also increase. Our universities involved in vocational training must focus on improving the employability of graduates. Earlier surveys have been published questioning the employability of new professional graduates from Indian HEIs.

Also, most of the institutes offering professional courses are redesigning their structures to allow for multiple entry and multiple exit options. This will make courses more flexible and a student can choose between certificate, diploma and degree.

India has demonstrated its ability to manage COVID which is recognized by the global community. It is also a leader in the vaccination program. This post can help attract foreign students to India for vocational training. Indian HEIs should be proactive in creating infrastructure and other requirements to attract international students. It is also possible that better health care infrastructure and its management is helping to reduce the movement of Indian students to foreign universities.

COVID-19 has provided many opportunities for vocational education to balance skills and theory, flexibility in entry and exit, attracting international students, and online training. But the basics of education will not change, that is, the quality of education for a professional to contribute to the development of society.

(The author is Professor in the Department of Management Studies, IIT Roorkee and Associate Dean, Innovation and Incubation, IIT Roorkee. The views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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