Increased demand for entrepreneurial skills since COVID-19?

This report, from a survey of learners around the world, highlights the impact of COVID-19 on education, aspirations and expectations.   Responses came from 35 countries with strong representation from people located in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

Outside the obvious impacts such as job losses and school buildings being closed, learners globally reported that the pandemic has affected their expectations and aspirations.  People recognised an increased need business and entrepreneurial skills (87% agreed they are more important than ever), and over half of those surveyed felt it was not more likely that they would need to work for themselves in the future.  ABE's learner base is already strongly biased to those with entrepreneurial ambitions so this is a significant shift.

Sadly, a quarter of those surveyed reported that they had lost their job or faced reduced income as a result of the pandemic.  Other negative impacts included mums who had to give up their own education to support their children's homeschooling and school leavers who had to drop out of further education due to their parents losing their job.  For other students, the pressure of being their family's sole breadwinner meant there was limited time left for study. 

However many people also commented that ABE's quick transition to open-book exams and flexibility, in allowing units to be booked one at a time, had enabled them to continue learning albeit at a slower pace in some cases. On the work front, there were also some who had seen opportunity.  Many of these people set up online businesses, often areas traditionally catered for by retail outlets.  There was also a strong feeling that business and entrepreneurship skills were more crucial than ever.  Over half of all those surveyed felt it was now more likely they would need to work for themselves at some point in the future. Respondents recognised that technology was now more crucial to successful learning but 61% found poor internet connectivity was a barrier, this included those in the UK, Germany and Hong Kong.