The term Atmanirbhar Bharat coined by our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is meant to change the narrative of India from survival to strength. This means we need to focus more on employment in the current scenario, which will further accelerate the demand for skilled workforce. Imparting skills to meet the demands of post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building a self-reliant operating-model.
Even before the current crisis, the evolving technologies disrupted the nature of jobs and the skills required to do them. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this question more imperative. This dynamic is more about than just remote working to digitalisation of processes. It is about how professionals can up-skill themselves and universities can reimagine themselves to prepare students for Industry 4.0.
Let us have a look at the present
India is one of the youngest countries in the world with a population of 1.3 billion and a median age below 30. And, the workforce is estimated to increase by 27 percent by the year 2022, to approximately 600 million from the current 473 million according to the India Skills Report 2019 by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Wheebox and Peoplestrong. This strategic demographic advantage can be leveraged by focusing on jobs. However, the question lies in how to fill the void of right skills-set prevailing in the jobs market?
Bridge Education in bridging the gap:
The learning industry itself is at the cusp of transformation, catering to two large demographics: the future workforce as well as the existing workforce. This transformation is attributed to Industry 4.0 and its emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, robotics, AR-VR, Cyber Security, and more. This transitioning phase requires a robust foundation of an aligned learning ecosystem to foster new-age skills and an everyday innovation mindset. However, the present evaluation of our workforce reveals a differing scenario:
- 95 percent of engineers in the country were not fit for software development jobs.
- Average trainable-employable percentage gap in engineers for new-age IT Skills is 7.4%
- 78% of fresh hires in the IT sector need training input to become employable
- 40% of 16M IT/ BFSI employees need reskilling over the next 5 years due to rapidly changing technologies and job roles
The other challenge is lack of soft skills. Unravelling business problems requires you to be a team player and communicator. In short, we need to transform the way we learn. This can be achieved with a mindset of collaboration and with a bridge education solution.
Industry – Academia Affiliation: to stay ahead in the constantly morphing market, universities cannot work in silo. They must become more open, collaborative, structured and strategic in their approach. This calls for collaborating with the industry to co-create curriculum, that will be required to develop contextual learning in the form of business problems, case studies, simulated project tools and infrastructure for hands-on learning and mentoring. The corporates are making a constant attempt for innovation to gain a competitive edge. Hence, the delivery and acknowledgement of content by corporates, aligning with the job market dynamics is crucial.
Adding Context in Learning: In today’s information driven era, content is something that is easily accessible online. We need to transition our learning model from a conceptual model into a contextual model, as the relevant skills and employability framework has changed as per the industry needs of today. With condensing attention span of students, contextual understanding seems more interesting and easier to retain, enhancing real-time learning and improving the prospects of employment.
Hyper-personalization: As the course of learning is varying with technological disruption, it is important to modify the learning methods too. Therefore, a personalized adaptive learning is the need of the hour. Hyper-personalization allows learners to choose what they want to learn and what pace. It also enables remediations of students and continuous recalibration of learning.
Preparing for Day 1: Industry 4.0 is no more looking for pure vanilla BTech or MBA degrees. They are looking for domain professionals who are billable from Day 1. This calls for conceptual and contextual based learning. And, it’s time for micro-credentials or dual degrees integrated with industry credentials such as STEM Masters. It is basically a departure from traditional learning models.
To summarise, A self- reliant country requires equal participation from private and public stakeholders. And, skill development scenario offers a testing ground for public-private partnerships in providing training and ensuring employability of the workforce.