Today, we are at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution 4.1. Developments in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, IoT, and machine learning (ML) are happening at a break-neck speed and are augmenting one another. This pace of change is unprecedented in history and is laying the foundation for a more inclusive revolution. While this imminent transformation holds great promise, it requires a different approach from various sectors such as education, skillingand employment.
Addressing the skill shortage
Reskilling and upskilling for today’s workforce and job seekers is vital as industries witness rapid technological developments. This problem is further augmented by talent shortages and growing unemployment. This is the classical “employment paradox” problem. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), India is staring at a whopping 29 million skill-deficit by 2030. Owing to skill shortages, 53% of Indian businesses could not recruit in 2019. A recent report revealed that in 2021, less than half (45.9%) graduates are employable. According to the National Council for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (NCSDE), with 15 million youngsters entering the workforce each year, corporate India feels that 65-75% are not job-ready or are unemployable. While much has been spoken about the need for reform in basic education, skilling, and reskilling are imperative. It is the collective responsibility of job seekers, aspirants, graduates and professionals to update and upgrade through programs created for emerging and advanced technologies such as data science, machine learning, game design and the likes.
The pandemic-led boom in EdTech
Catalyzed by the global pandemic, EdTech’s acceptance and growth has catapulted over the past year. In fact, Edtechs are expected to have an addressable base of 37 Mn+ paid users by 2025, according to a report. The pandemic also highlighted the convenience that technology brings. For example, until a few years ago, people were hesitant to buy goods online. But now, with the advent of seamless payments, easy user interface, vernacular language options for browsing, among others, online shopping become a norm among tech and not so tech-savvy individuals. Similarly, with EdTech, even though there was awareness about the platforms and opportunities to learn and upskill, the percentage of people exploring them was minimal. With the pandemic, teachers, students, professors, even institutions had to pivot and adopt online modes of learning. After a year of digital lessons, users are realizing the potential, the scope for personalized learning and the convenience that EdTech brings. The rapid strides in the last few months have reaffirmed the importance of taking up structured courses offered by EdTechs to gain a competitive edge.
Emerging job opportunities in India
The reallocation of current tasks between human and machine is already in motion. According to the Future of Jobs Report 2020, by 2025, the average estimated time spent by humans and machines at work will be at parity based on today’s tasks. For instanceto build an EV, professionals must be trained in mechanical engineering, neuroscience, electronics, AI and much more and not just focus on automobile engineering. Some of the trending jobs in 2021 that are going to stay relevant in the foreseeable future are in emerging technologies, full-stack development, coding, data science and gaming. AI roles continue to play a significant role in India’s emerging jobs landscape, as machine learning unties innovation and possibilities.. The usage of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are being advanced across a range of sectors, from healthcare to cybersecurity and more.
How can EdTechs bridge the skills shortage?
EdTechs can support the process of reskilling and upskilling workers for the jobs of tomorrow. Job roles like cloud computing specialist, big data analyst, drone operator, did not exist until a decade ago. With the increase in human-machine partnerships, new job roles are being created every five years making others redundant. The onus is on individuals to reskill themselves to stay relevant and employable.
EdTechs have the capability to provide niche programmes for emerging industries through personalised learning and testing sessions, mentorship with industry experts, interdisciplinary focus on solutions, and partnerships with global universities. While group sessions are great for imparting knowledge but while taking tests, personalised one-on-one sessions can have greater effect. These curated sessions are focused on deep diving into a learner’s understanding of the subject and helping them grasp the topic in its entirety by taking time to asses the areas that need more attention and helping them learn in their own way.
Enhancing skills is a broad subject. To become employable in the era of Industry 4.1, one must focus on building a personal brand by working on technical, problem solving, decision making, critical thinking and analytical capabilities. In addition to this, key social and behavioural competencies such as language and communication are highly valued by the market.
A continuous learning and upskilling mindset is crucial for professionals looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing professional world. Those equipped with digital talents — even at a basic level will have an edge over others in finding relevant employment opportunities. Entrepreneurship, data architecture, game development, coding and ML engineering are just some of the new age job roles and fields that individuals can pursue today, with the right skills. The need for innovation in Edtech will be driven by changing needs of the job market, which brings us to the point of looking at education from a ‘skills’ perspective rather than just as ‘credentials’. Skills are the fundamental building blocks of an individual’s learning journey. Offering ready-to-work skills for a seamless transition from college to work or from one job role to another will be crucial for the EdTech industry in the coming months.