At some point (maybe fast forward a few months), Covid19 will have become a sharp but receding memory for students all around the world. Their interests and priorities will be much the same as before, but the way they go about achieving them may have altered for ever. Learning and assessment of capabilities online could easily have become, despite some challenges, a new fundamental way to prepare for qualifications and future employment.
One U.S. education provider (Joann Kozyrev from Western Governors University) believes Covid19 to be a flashbulb moment, which will influence anybody who’s having their early experiences with online learning now. Although some parents may think learning online is harder than it needs to be, and some students know it could be better, they are [both] seeing value in online learning that perhaps they didn’t before. This is particularly true for online resources that deliver competency-based education, practice, and performance assessment.
American educationalists also appear to be having a flashbulb moment of their own, as they think about the requirements of post Covid19 students – we need to listen to them and learn what it is they’re going to need most. Is there a partnership that can help us look at what students need, pinpoint where the blockers are and respond to them while keeping our commitment to integrity and quality intact? In the U.S. that might mean practice, assessment and qualifications for healthcare, science and technology. In India, analysis has shown that while the all-time favourite exams continue to be the Staff Selection Commission, banking, and Railways, recently the popularity of teaching, constabulary, and defence has gone up.
Like their U.S. counterparts, when fast forwarding to future post-Covid19 workplaces Indian students see challenges, but also new, previously unlikely opportunities. For example, the noise around large companies shifting their operations out of China has become shriller with the advent of Covid19 related disruption, and much has been written about companies relocating their businesses to other South East Asian countries. Mumbai-based law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas believes India is hopeful of getting it right this time around, and is competing with other South East Asian countries in rolling out the red carpet to companies exiting China. In CAM’s view there a number of key factors that are relevant for companies thinking about a shift to India, with two of particular interest to Indian students:
Global corporations view India as one of the key markets from where future growth is likely to emerge. The large youth population and the continuous urbanisation of rural India are creating a large potential consumer base with increased purchasing power in the consumer durables, transport and communication sectors. Unlike smaller investment destinations in South East Asia such as Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan where [engineering and] manufacturing is mostly export oriented, the Indian market not only serves as an ideal destination for manufacturing consumer goods, but also provides a ready-made consumer economy to generate domestic sales.
- Skilled workforce
India being one of the most populated nations in the world has a large workforce and its percentage of young working population is among the highest in Asian countries. India also has a large resource of educated and English-speaking youth. The government of India has also launched the National Skill Development Mission aiming to train approximately 400 million youths across the country by 2022. With targeted training and development, India’s population can provide an abundant supply of skilled workforce.
Qualifications and skills may need some adjustment. In India, Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, Chairman and Managing Director of Cognizant, welcomes the fact that the quantity and quality of engineering talent is going up significantly every year. But at the same time he applauds the All India Council for Technical Education’s move to limiting the core curriculum across disciplines of study to 160 credits and allowing greater flexibility with the remaining 60 credits – which in his opinion will help progressive institutions to include courses focusing on new age skills such as artificial intelligence, IoT, Cloud and cyber security, among the bouquet of electives.
The way that students currently in lockdown all around the world are learning, practicing and assessing online will mean their flexible preparation is very likely to be a key asset when they fast forward. Whatever the workplaces of the future – including healthcare, Railways and relocated engineering operations – the student memory of online learning and assessment during Covid19 will almost certainly remain an important one.