COVID-19: Cook apprentices of the VSDP continue their learning through online training

Almost 70% of the world’s students are not attending school as an increasing number of learning institutions are closed as a response to Covid-19 (UNESCO, 2020). To address the challenges that the pandemic imposes on the ongoing activities, Swisscontact’s skills development project ‘Vocational Skills Development Program (VSDP)' has developed an online learning opportunity as a temporary, alternative method of training delivery for the dual apprenticeship training in cook occupation.

The following video explains how it is being implemented.   

Since November 2019, more than 30 apprentices have undergone the dual training in partner hotels and restaurants as well as at the VSDP training kitchen in Yangon, gaining practical skills and related theoretical knowledge. However, following the announcement of the first Covid-19 cases in Myanmar in mid-March 2020, all in-person training activities in the country were halted per government regulations in the fight against the spread of the virus. For many cook apprentices, this meant returning to their hometowns to wait for the crisis to be over, with some on unpaid leave. 

To continue the existing skills development activities, the VSDP promptly assessed and responded to this situation, planning and delivering online cooking classes since mid-April. Apprentices participate in the training twice a week for 2 hours at a time. To ensure equal access to the new learning approach, the cost of internet data usage is covered for each cook apprentice.

The interactive learning take place via Zoom, where the instructors conduct theoretical lessons in presentations and live demonstrations of practical activities from the training kitchens in Yangon and Switzerland. Basic occupational English training is also delivered by two teachers. The apprentices must perform assignments independently, which include recreating the dishes demonstrated by the instructors in their own kitchens. The online learning approach allows the apprentices to continue with weekly training and performance evaluation. While it cannot substitute the existing dual training approach, it helps the apprentices in transitioning back to their respective workplace without skill gaps once regular activities are resumed. 

Dual Apprenticeship Training is one of the components of the Vocational Skills Development Program (VSDP). The VSDP aims to promote improved livelihood opportunities for women and men in targeted areas and occupations in Myanmar. The Program is implemented by Swisscontact and financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).