Students considered English, Information Technology (IT), and soft skills in communication as the three best skills to increase job prospects after graduation, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in a recent report said.
The ADB, in this report titled ‘Sri Lanka: Progress and Remaining Challenges in Online Higher Education during the Covid-19 Pandemic’ and dated 24 May 2022 further said, demand for these skills needs to be confirmed by industry, but the University Grants Commission is considering addition of more information technology and English courses to the Social Science and Arts programmes in State universities, the ADB said.
Nowadays, many good online courses would be readily available in these areas, and universities may wish to provide access to these courses by taking advantage of massive open online courses, it added. Students are also concerned about employment after graduation, while also being concerned about weak labour demand due to the pandemic, the ADB survey report said.
“In fact, during the pandemic, the youth unemployment rate (age 15-24) increased from 20 per cent in the second quarter of 2019 to 30 per cent in the same quarter in 2021,” the ADB report further said. However, by December 2021, online job postings had returned to their 2019 level, but about 65 per cent of students were “extremely worried” or “worried” about their employment prospects after graduation, the report said.
Female students were more worried (68 per cent) than their male counterparts (61 per cent). In addition, students of non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degree programmes were more worried (70 per cent) than students of STEM degrees (61 per cent), it said. “Furthermore, online education could also ease students’ concerns about employment,” the report further said.
By Paneetha Ameresekere