Vocational training after a pandemic year
2020 was a challenging year for the world and, in particular, for our region, where the labour market crisis caused by the pandemic highlighted and simultaneously deepened significant inequalities, new challenges and decent work deficits (ILO, Labour Overview in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2021).
In the fields of vocational education and training, with the almost total closure of face-to-face activities and interruptions in work-based learning, the situation has also been critical. Institutions were forced to implement various strategies, innovating and transforming their offerings, teacher training, assessment and certification of distance learning.
Some lines of action that we have observed include:
- The incorporation of distance learning processes, together with a review of methodological aspects, teacher training and evaluation, among others. Some of the main challenges that arise, along with the need to train participants, teachers and institutional teams in digital competencies, are to acquire the skills to use technological devices, identify new content, manage information and learn to collaborate digitally;
- The generation of partnerships with digital platforms and online training providers to implement distance learning for many institutions;
- The implementation of complementary actions to ensure that some population groups have the basic conditions necessary to sustain their participation in training (e.g. access to equipment and data packages); and
- The integration of training in transversal competencies or soft skills has been key in the context of the pandemic, in areas such as the ability to self-manage training, organize time, work in teams and communicate.
Similarly, at ILO/Cinterfor, the process of developing and implementing a strategic plan was accelerated by the new circumstances, driving the transition of our technical assistance offer towards virtual courses and technical assistance, videoconferences, webinars and the creation of collaborative innovation groups in areas of common interest.
We have invested in and strengthened our digital platform and website, and we have also trained and prepared for the development of this new generation of services to our network member institutions and tripartite constituents, with the necessary quality and timeliness, enhancing communication, knowledge sharing and technical cooperation.
More than twelve months into this pandemic, the lessons learned are many, as are the new challenges that lie ahead for vocational training. Our ability to adapt and respond to the demands arising from these transformations is essential, as many of these changes are here to stay.
In order to fulfill our mission to serve vocational education and training institutions and tripartite constituents, it is essential to continue to update, innovate, research and generate assistance and cooperation actions together with our vast Network, focused on realizing the transformative potential of vocational education and training in people's lives.
Anne Caroline Posthuma