Newswise – The COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020 and has plagued the world since has left countless people without jobs, careers or income. The devastating impact on the economy is unfathomable. Yet, hidden in economic crises are opportunities to build social capital. These were the hiring guidelines for CLNR — one of the agencies funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) to help with the economic relief effort.
“This project not only helped local residents affected by COVID-19 gain access to income, but we wanted them to know what their homes and communities were like, to feel they can work at home and that it isn’t always necessary to leave one’s hometown to find a job. This will create a sense of love and pride in their homeland.” Assistant Professor Dr. Noppadon Kitana, Director of CLNR mentioned the objectives of the project.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, CLNR employed a total of 138 people in 6 provinces, namely Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Prachinburi, Kanchanaburi, Chonburi and Chanthaburi to create a resource database for the Plant Genetic Conservation Project under the Royal Initiative of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn from July to September 2020.
After the end of this project, the Saraburi model which obtained the most complete and complete data was used as a model for future projects.
“We used the survey data to create a directory of native resources of the provinces, and printed posters of native plants, animals and folk wisdom and distributed them to all sub-district administrative organizations and schools in Saraburi province to raise awareness of local cultural highlights. In addition, the information could also be developed into lessons, card games, board games on local resources.”
Asst. Professor Noppadon added that after the completion of the initial phase of the project, many employees began to recognize their community capital and the opportunities to build on capital from their hometowns.
Chula to Townships: hiring 3 target groups for new acquaintances
In 2021, the pandemic has not only prolonged but exacerbated people’s fight against the third and fourth waves of epidemics. Therefore, MHESI extended the project “From University to Township (Tambon) – Building the Taproot of the Country (U2T)” by financing an extension of the employment period to 11 months from February to December 2021 and by increasing the number of jobs in 3,000 municipalities in the country.
Many departments of Chulalongkorn have responded by launching various projects to hire the target groups. CLNR continued to work with three townships in Kaeng Khoi district, Saraburi province, where the center is located: Huai Haeng, Cham Phak Phaeo and Tan Diao.
“In response to the ministry’s mandate, jobs for this phase have focused on three groups of people: local and unemployed new graduates, pandemic-affected residents, and students. We wanted to see people from different generations sharing ways of learning and opinions,” Asst. Professor Noppadon said, adding that the employment ratio was 20 people per township, with 10 new graduates, 5 local residents regardless of education and 5 students.
CLNR saw an opportunity to raise awareness of local wisdom and instill local pride and engaged the target groups to participate in the Vetiver School project at the center site in Saraburi.
“They studied together, worked together, and helped develop products that blended local wisdom with modern design and marketing insights,” Asst said. Teacher. Dr. Noppadon.
“We educated participants on all aspects of vetiver, for example, ecological farming, harvesting and various uses. We invited trainers from the Vetiver Conservation Network to 12 districts across the country to help train participants on how to use vetiver to make handicrafts. We also asked professors from the Creative Arts Department of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts of Chulalongkorn University to give lectures on contemporary design to spark new creative ideas. Speakers from private companies were brought in to teach various forms of digital marketing, including a team from Lazada Thailand who gave advice on how to open an online store and more.
Asst. Professor Noppadon expected communities to be able to create different vetiver products and not just the same old ones we know and would pave the way for future commercial and community ventures.
Develop skills, create local employment opportunities
In addition to working with CNLR to develop vetiver-based products, participants are expected to work on other ministry assignments, such as collecting community data, assessing the poverty of local residents, and assessing community health risks. They were also trained in four essential skills: English language, digital literacy, social skills and financial skills through the online learning platforms of Thai MOOC, the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and the ‘Digital Government Development Agency (DGA).
“CLNR sent new graduates to work with agencies in the province, such as the provincial public health office, social security office, human resources agency, etc. Many performed so well that they were hired full time. It is one of our successes that graduates of the program have secured jobs and income,” said Asst. Teacher. Dr. Noppadon concluded with pride.
Although the employment program has already ended and is in its final evaluation phase, people in the communities continue to live with income, knowledge and new skills that will create great opportunities for themselves and their communities. .