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SKILL LAB: SKILLING STUDENTS FOR MORE THAN JUST CAREERS

ASkill Lab is an initiative on Skilling, Re-Skilling and Up-Skilling the next-generation Nepalis to reduce the academia-industry gap in the country by collaborating with like-minded academic institutions, corporations and individuals.

Skill Lab fosters by engaging with successful people for their presence in the academic institution as guest speakers, mentors and learning engagement coach to achieve employment and self-employment. It is currently working in Kathmandu, Chitwan, Birgunj, Janakpur and expanding to Pokhara in cooperation with 40+ organisations.

Skill Lab functions within the partner academic institution and has four major programs: Soft Skills, Career Service Center and Professional Development of Teachers for academic institutions willing to transform their teaching learning and equiping their graduates for future opportunities.

At Skill Lab, the program design and delivery are done through industry professionals. In the course of their engagement, they become a part of the Skill Lab community in various capacities.
Learning Engagement Coaches at Skill Lab deliver the facilitated sessions in an academic institution where they get to connect with the students and their future goals. Learning Engagement Coach in their role provide sessions relevant to the industry to the participating students and engage with them for a period of three months to ensure that their learning is reinforced throughout the period of engagement.

In this edition of Business 360, three of the Learning Engagement Coaches share their thoughts on Skill Lab:

Santona Malakar
Associate, SAFAL Partners

Santona Malakar is an associate at SAFAL Partners, Nepal’s first operations-focused investment firm. She is the Board Chair in one of SAFAL- invested company – 8 Byte that sells its pre-school focused app named Kopila. Before this, she worked in the field of pharma marketing and general management for seven years. She is also a freelance trainer on public speaking presentation and resume writing.

About Skill Lab she says, “I instantly liked the comprehensive, hands-on learning based 12-week long course on basic soft skills that Skill Lab has designed. This package included a range of soft skills from goal-setting to negotiations to emotion management to facing a job interview. Such a package not just increases the employability of undergraduate and graduate-level students but also enables students to make a smooth transition from student life to professional life. In addition, I think Skill Lab’s facilitation in bringing industry people and their insights to classrooms is something that truly helps in bridging the big industry-academia gap that exists in Nepal”.

Malakar states, “I believe we are speedily headed to a future that primarily rewards skills than academic-soundness, or perhaps we have already reached there. The job-market, both local and global, is witnessing change as college and university degrees are lesser of a must-have, except in certain fields like medicine, law, etc. Today’s workplaces clearly prefer candidates who have skills to get the job done, and it is the soft skills or the non-technical that carry higher weightage.”

Roshan Ghimire
Country Coordinator, International Development Institute

Roshan Ghimire is a photojournalist and social media enthusiast. He is currently associated with the International Development Institute as Country Coordinator. He is also a member of the Tourism Toast Masters Club. He graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a degree in Mass Media concentrating on Television Production and Photography. He holds an MBA degree from Southwest Minnesota State University. He previously interned at CBS News and Frameworks Institute, Washington DC.

He says, “A student can have a perfect transcript, all A and Aplus grades in all subjects. But, what is the point if he or she does not have the necessary skills to be successful in professional and personal life. A perfect mark sheet can only take a student a step further. But life skills such as critical thinking, communication skills, presentation skills, and emotional intelligence can make one a long term racer.

Even now, in a country like ours, students are judged based on how much they scored in exams. We seldom encourage them to learn and embrace the power of soft skills. There is a considerable gap in our education system. I may be generalizing it, but most of our students are not ready to face the real-world challenge. They are smart, curious, and eager to learn, but they lack soft skills, partly the fault of our education system!”

Bijendra Shah
Sales and Marketing Manager, Clock b Business Innovations

Bijendra Shah is a purpose-driven and process-oriented professional who has successfully mentored and coached entrepreneurs in launching their new venture or on pivoting their business model for success. He has a track record of working in a national consulting assignment to enhance productivity and scout opportunities for entrepreneurs and other beneficiaries. Currently, he is working as a Sales and Marketing Manager at Clock b Business Innovation.

He says, “Skills are always important in the job market. Traditionally there used to be an industrial era where people were treated as machines. But in today’s context not only the people who can work like machines are accepted but the ones who provide critical feedback and areas of improvement are necessary. I believe these sets of skills help to analyse the given situation or context critically and provide inputs for further improvement.”

Avant Shrestha briefly joined the Media 9 team in 2010, when the magazine was still called ‘Boss’. Following the brief stint with the Media 9 team, Shrestha has been actively contributing articles and pieces for various magazines and newspapers in the country since 2008. Shrestha obtained his Master’s Degree in Media Communication from Webster University 2016. He is the Co-Founder of ‘Shresthas and Maharjans Sports’, that operates Kick Off Futsal in Sitapaila and the Owner and Marketing Director of The Mint Studio, a lifestyle brand in Kathmandu. Currently Shrestha has been with Business 360 for almost 2 years, covering stories on the entrepreneur and business landscape in the nation.

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