Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), being a vulnerable and neglected community, are always adversely affected in times of crisis like COVID-19. Youth4Jobs (Y4J) focuses on skilling less educated and educated youth with disabilities and places them in jobs. Y4J responded by setting up a Helpline for the disabled in 11 cities, started making sign language videos with safety instructions following WHO guidelines for the speech and hearing impaired and are helping doctors to communicate with the children and youth with disabilities. They also ensured that all the trainees who had to leave the training centres due to lockdown have reached their homes in the villages safely.
Y4J team was keen to continue training and the youth were keen to enroll in this isolation period. To address these issues, Y4J came up with a contingency plan to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on the lives of Persons with Disabilities and initiated Youth4Jobs Employability Online Training across its PAN India Centres. Youth with locomotor disability, speech and hearing impaired and low vision enrolled.
An innovative solution to cope with COVID-19
The Training Curriculum was modified to be taught online through videos and live classrooms.
The skills that are part of the curriculum are:
- English (reading, writing, and vocabulary)
- Mathematics and Reasoning Skills
- Soft Skills Training
498 youth with disabilities with less education and 85 educated youth with disabilities enrolled in 60 batches pan India.
The Youth4jobs team tested various LMS and online communication tools, to understand their accessibility and feasibility to be used in the Online training program. The team had to keep in mind that most of our candidates are from rural backgrounds, with entry-level educational qualifications and having little to moderate levels of Digital literacy. There was creativity among the teams in their choice of digital tools. Some chose google hangout and zoom; others used google classroom and Facebook private.
Y4J has launched a webinar series for educators. It is partnering with the University of Mumbai to have the first virtual workshop for educators and employers on 15th and 16th May 2020. A Webinar series is being launched for companies, with topics of choice to help them understand diversity and inclusion.
Candidates are then awarded Course Completion Certificates based upon:
- Final Assessment Scores
- Completion of the online training program
Impact of online training
There were challenges of connectivity. Many did not have a smartphone, but we had tapped into an aspiration of rural youth with disabilities to be digitally savvy. The trainers had to be patient to get them onto platforms like zoom. Girls enrolled in larger numbers and we had enrolments from interior areas. Dropouts were negligible.