Many young people used the period of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage. While education institutions closed down and job opportunities shrank, learning new skills online to fill a specific gap in the market – affordable marketing services for businesses – became the thing for the motivated.
Seeking to contribute to the community during such difficult times, United Pixels Academy (UPA), a training provider mainly for graphic design, motion design and application development, moved fully into online teaching mode and designed a special program to create a pool of young creative designers who can then provide affordable services to small and medium enterprises in Kosovo, primarily from the food processing and tourism sectors.
This specific online course was Photoshop, which according to Armend Berisha, founder, is a skill needed by “a broad range of professions: architects, photographers, graphic designers, fashion designers to mention a few”. That is why they decided to teach this course. UPA was able to implement the idea with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, through the Promoting Private Sector Employment project.
The targeted participant profile was primarily young people, including students of marketing or sales for whom knowledge of Photoshop adds real value to their CVs, but also other people with an affinity for this skill.
“We taught online courses before the pandemic too. During the Photoshop course we noticed how eager the participants were to learn as much as possible. The experience proved to be interactive, with an easy and effective approach making a stronger case that we can achieve quite a lot through online learning,” says Granit Cernaveri, one of the instructors.
Participants came from diverse backgrounds and most had no knowledge of Photoshop, but all shared the notion that this new skill would help them work on new projects and create new opportunities.
Rina Trnava, 21, with a bachelor’s degree in nursing says she was eager to learn something beyond the scope of nursing. “Maybe I can use the newly acquired skills as a second profession, or a hobby.”
For Behar Sherifi, 32, working as a CRM manager for a creative agency, the training was the first opportunity to use Photoshop and the first experience with online learning, which he really liked and found useful. Apart from making the best use of lockdown to learn a new skill, “this will help me in the course of my work to give even more professional presentations to the clients.”
“I was always passionate about design but lacked knowledge of tools such as Photoshop,” says Fatlum Behrami, 20, student of computer sciences. He believes that as a future programmer, the knowledge he acquired through the training serve as solid basis to further develop as a programmer for applications or websites.
Through projects completed as part of the training, participants showed a high degree of understanding and competence. Another added benefit was that all participants are now part of the closed UPA community of designers where they can continue the peer-learning journey.
UPA has grander plans for the immediate future involving online teaching. In fact, the lockdown pushed them to act on the ideas they had been elaborating for a while. “A considerable part of our services is online-based, and we already had plans to convert the training curriculum for Graphic Design into online. Now, we are thinking of offering such training also in English, to capture a broader global market,” says Armend Berisha.
There is plenty of talent available in Kosovo that is just waiting for the chance to expand opportunities.