Building Online Learning Opportunities During COVID-19
COVID-19 has forced many industries to re-evaluate how they operate, do business, and keep their staff and customers safe. Public, private, and post-secondary education in particular has been turned on its end with an overnight switch to online learning.
Online Learning Is Not Robust Enough Yet
While many universities were already offering online courses, the majority of instruction is still done in-person, in a classroom setting. While some students thrive in online classes, many others really struggle, especially students who are most in need of learning support from educators. The education system will need to make significant changes to online course delivery in order to give every student the best possibility for success.
With the uncertainty of the pandemic, most post-secondary institutions have already committed to only offering online courses this year. But they’re getting plenty of kickback from students and staff. Online learning is not always as robust as experiential learning, and students and instructors face difficulties in learning to navigate new teaching systems.
Online learning requires tons of extra support from school staff to help students get through their semesters. Besides learning new systems, instructors are having to drastically change and completely adapt their semester plans because of this different learning environment.
Shifting Expectations for Workforce Prep
The other side of this challenge is that as industries have adapted to the pandemic, the skills expected from the workforce are changing. Educational institutions will need to shift their education models to meet the changing needs of employers and their expectations of the workforce.
Working from home requires strong communication and problem-solving skills. In addition, work-from-home employees need to be tech-savvy, since IT can’t just pop by their desk to fix problems right away. Working from home requires people to be able to troubleshoot and potentially solve some of their own tech problems.
Workforce Developers Can Help Support Education & Industry
So, how can workforce developers help support local educational institutions?
Good communication is the key.
It’s also useful to initiate conversations between industry and educational partners to see how they can work together to deliver highly-skilled graduates. Chances are high that local companies have had to drastically adjust the way they operate, which means they are looking for new skills and abilities in future staff.
They might need people to learn entirely new ways of producing their products with remote software and equipment, or they may need students to have a greater focus on technical skills and industry-specific skills. They likely need students who have well-developed adaptability and strong problem-solving skills. Knowing this information can help post-secondary partners structure their programs to close the skills gap.
Online Learning is a Prime Opportunity For Education
While COVID-19 has presented a massive challenge for the education system, it has also presented the sector with a prime opportunity to rethink how education is designed and delivered. There are opportunities to look for new and efficient ways to deliver even more highly skilled people to the workforce, and give all students a better chance at success.
The most important thing for workforce developers to do during the COVID-19 pandemic is to stay in touch with the educational institutions they are connected with, and the local industries they serve. This is a time to foster conversations, big ideas, creative problem solving, and potentially help drive positive change for higher education.
Educational institutions will need to focus on accessibility, equity, offering more teaching support, and fostering a new culture of continuous learning for a strong post-pandemic workforce. A change to continuous learning helps people stay on a path of upskilling or reskilling to stay at the top of their industry and improve their opportunities.
MDB Insight’s Vicinity Jobs tool can help you keep tabs on hiring changes and trends in your region, so you can help educational organizations keep on track with the skill demands and needs of local industries.
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