In India, almost 2 million graduates and half a million post graduates are unemployed. Approximately 47% of the graduates are not suitable for any kind of industry roles. The level of educated unemployment increases with higher education. One of the biggest reason is irrelevant skill set. The Indian education system only focuses on the academic success and completely overlooks practical knowledge. This mean the students are technical experts but have no soft skills to convey their work. Hard skills (technical skills) and soft skills (interpersonal skills) both complement each other. Hard skills are specific professional abilities taught through education whereas soft skills are subjective skills through which people interact. Basically, hard skills are the technical expertise that a person possess and soft skills are people skills, interpersonal skills or personal traits of how a person works on their own and others. Hard skills are easy to quantify and measure through tests and evaluations but soft skills are difficult to measure and quantify. The best example of measuring hard skills is of the education system. Each examination during studies is a measurement of hard skills.
A view at India’s education system
The monotonous and tiresome old fashioned education system of cramming limited data to clear a test is generating an army of robots. These higher education graduates lack most important skills required to success in life. Skills like public speaking, decision making, life management, interpersonal skills are overlooked in our education system. Majority of Indian students lack confidence and social skills. They are afraid to ask questions in class or participate in a competition because of lack of social skill training. Imagining a person graduating with master’s degree in management but afraid to even give a presentation in front of a group. Students are made experts in hard skills but with zero soft skills they won’t be able to put anything at use. The monotonous way of learning from a single book hinders creativity and implementation of abilities. Even with COVID ridden digital education system students follow the same methods just on a digital platform.
The founder and CEO of Gutenberg, Harjiv Singh said, the method of learning should change and so should the of method of evaluating the students. “India has an obsessiveness to test students. Thus, exams become important and the learning part is overlooked. Learning is a lifelong process and not just about a test.” The cramming of information with sole purpose of passing a test limits the purpose of learning. A holistic development of students is impossible.
Barry Chudakov, The founder and principal at Sertain Research and StreanFuzion Corp. said, “The key to education in next 10 years will be the understanding that we live in a world without walls and so the world of school need to shatter and never go up again. In future, we will not segregate schooling from work and real-world thinking. This will result into a braid of learning, realization, exposure, hands-on experience and integration into students’ lives.”
The future of work
The future of work is closer than people think. Recently, the big 4 consulting firm Deloitte moved 4 of their UK based offices to permanent work from home. Deloitte said the future of work has been brought closer due to the pandemic. Corporates around the work are quickly looking for ways to cut costs. Robots are coming for people’s work. According to ISG survey 92% of European companies are aiming to implement robotic process automation (RPA) in 2020. The RPA budget have increased by the average of 9% in past 12 months. This change is fairly influenced by the effects of pandemic. The important hard skills of today might be obsolete tomorrow due to automation. According to researchers from Oxford University 47% of all occupations is likely to become automated. The jobs with high potential of becoming obsolete in near future due to robots, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are:
- Hiring managers
- Retail salespeople
- Stock traders and brokers
- Medical tests and data analyzers
- Software experts who create algorithms
- Insurance claim adjusters
The skills of the future
The scope and range of big data will keep increase in the future. Data skill will be very important in the time of industry 4.0. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the second in the list of hard skills. With increasing technologies adapting AI and machine learning the machine learning engineers and business intelligence analyst will be in demand. Blockchain field will also become a big recruitment field. Healthcare and nursing skills will always be on the rise. With the pandemic, the world has seen that there is still need for a large number of healthcare professionals. These are some hard skills which will rise is future and also make old skills obsolete.
According to open online course provider Udemy the most important soft skill of the future would be conflict management. Managing complex technologies, different nationalities, cultures, multiple generations and an ever-changing workplace results in a huge risk of conflicts. The conflict management skills will be very necessary in modern workplace. Time management skill in work from home culture where managing work life balance is very difficult will prevail. The increasing use of written and verbal communication makes communication skill a future proof skill. Even with automation the human touch will be necessary. Even in future the customers would prefer to talk with someone before making a purchase either on phone or through messaging. Which makes customer service an important future skill. Strategic and critical thinking skill is also necessary to understand the situation and act strategically to choose the best alternative decision. Managing the changing culture and work environment makes change management important future soft skill. All these skills are hard to learn and education institutions don’t focus on these important future soft skills.
A blended learning system
Akansha Bapna, the founder and CEO of Evaldesign said, “The next step is revising the content to fit the new goals of education. In the post-COVID era, we need to think of a blended learning mode rather than just analog. The role of teacher will also change — they will need to become a facilitator of learning.
A blended approach integrating practicality and theoreticality is necessary for a better future graduate. The training provided by Indian educational institutions are irrelevant either because of high academic focus or being outdated. These trainings don’t prepare students for the world of work. More interaction and practical integration is required for achieving better results. Simulations, gaming, digital presentations combined with hands-on, real world experience learning and re-education must move out of books and into the world. A practical, digital teaching and theoretical mix should be the future of education where focus is on developing work relevant skills. Students with proper mix of soft and hard skills would be more future ready and perform better in their jobs.
Note: The article was published by me in Nobat Newspaper on 23 Oct 2020 in Gujarati language. Above is the English translation of the same.