Re-en­gi­neer skill ecosys­tem to train 21st cen­tury-ready work­force: FICCI-KPMG White Pa­per

FICCI Business Digest - - News -

Ichange n the 21st cen­tury, the pace of

in the job mar­ket has hugely ac­cel­er­ated. The con­cept of a job for life is passé. The chang­ing job sce­nario is lead­ing to work­ers switch­ing jobs more of­ten — in many cases to sec­tors and roles that they did not study for. Many learn­ers who are cur­rently in school would end up work­ing for jobs and roles that do not ex­ist to­day. Many peo­ple are get­ting into en­tre­pre­neur­ial roles right af­ter higher ed­u­ca­tion, and many are get­ting into roles dif­fer­ent from their fields of study, says a FICCI-EY re­port on Fu­ture of jobs and its im­pli­ca­tions on In­dian higher ed­u­ca­tion.

The eco­nomic sce­nario glob­ally is ever-chang­ing, lead­ing to a trans­for­ma­tion of the job mar­ket across the world. Over the 20th cen­tury, there was a ma­jor de­cline in man­u­fac­tur­ing and pri­mary jobs — min­ing and pro­duc­tion — ma­jorly due to in­creas­ing au­to­ma­tion and sci­en­tific in­no­va­tions, which led to a lot of me­nial jobs be­ing re­placed by au­to­mated ma­chines. At the same time, the ser­vices sec­tor saw a large growth in terms of num­bers and also the va­ri­ety of jobs. New type of jobs emerged that did not ex­ist a gen­er­a­tion ago.

The emer­gence of robotics, AI, cloud tech­nolo­gies and ro­bust com­put­ing power is fur­ther lead­ing to re­dun­dancy of many low-skilled, rule-based jobs, which are be­ing re­placed by tech­nol­ogy and au­to­ma­tion. Low­er­ing costs and im­proved per­for­mance of tech­nolo­gies that are more cost and time ef­fi­cient and less er­ror-prone in un­der­tak­ing stan­dard­ized pro­ce­dures with well-de­fined rules, are push­ing jobs from the mid­dle tier of ba­sic de­ci­sion­mak­ing to more ad­vanced and com­plex judge­ment-based jobs and hard-skill-based jobs. This phe­nom­e­non is now shrink­ing the jobs in the ser­vices sec­tor as well. The mix of jobs within sec­tors is also un­der­go­ing a shift — many of the old roles have ceased to ex­ist (such as typ­ist, mail sorter and qual­ity checker for process plants) and new jobs have emerged (such as so­cial me­dia mar­keter). The job re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and key tasks for other roles are also con­stantly chang­ing — the job of a bank teller has trans­formed into a more sales and re­la­tion­ship role since ATM have taken over the core teller func­tions.

The ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor is feel­ing the impact of these changes — there is an in­creas­ing de­mand for cor­po­rate train­ing ser­vices, which cater to the reskilling and up­skilling needs of work­ing pro­fes­sion­als. The grow­ing pref­er­ence of stu­dents to­ward lib­eral arts pro­grams also highlights the fact that learn­ers are look­ing at the breadth of learn­ing than just in-depth tech­ni­cal knowl­edge in one sub­ject. Many uni­ver­si­ties have re­worked their cur­ricu­lum to adopt CBCS to of­fer the flex­i­bil­ity in learn­ing to the stu­dents — so that the stu­dents of to­day have bet­ter adapt­abil­ity to­ward the jobs of the fu­ture. These, how­ever, are in­cre­men­tal changes that do not fully brace the stu­dents for the po­ten­tial impact of the broader changes to the econ­omy and jobs.

In the age of om­nipresent in­for­ma­tion sources over the in­ter­net, knowl­edge has be­come de­moc­ra­tized and the role of the univer­sity as the sole cus­to­dian of knowl­edge is un­der threat. There is global con­testa­bil­ity among uni­ver­si­ties for the best fac­ulty, re­searchers, stu­dents and funds. The reg­u­la­tors that de­velop frame­works of op­er­a­tions in the sec­tor are slow to counter the impact of these changes, and as a re­sult there is lim­ited flex­i­bil­ity for uni­ver­si­ties to be ag­ile to the chang­ing global land­scape. In the higher ed­u­ca­tion land­scape to­day — with strong em­pha­sis on in­put pa­ram­e­ters and in­flex­i­ble ped­a­gog­i­cal op­tions — the learner is a taker of the sys­tem, bound by the rules of the reg­u­la­tors and the lim­ited un­dif­fer­en­ti­ated learn­ing roadmaps of the uni­ver­si­ties. With in­for­ma­tion and knowl­edge be­com­ing ac­ces­si­ble with­out bar­ri­ers, there is a po­ten­tial threat that chang­ing learner be­hav­ior would make the ex­ist­ing teach­ing method­olo­gies re­dun­dant.

The higher ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor thus needs to trans­form it­self to re­main rel­e­vant to the chang­ing land­scape. The fo­cus of higher ed­u­ca­tion needs to change from pro­vid­ing em­ploy­a­bil­ity en­hance­ments, to pre­pare the learn­ers into think­ing, com­plex prob­lem-solv­ing and de­ci­sion­mak­ing in­di­vid­u­als. Based on the cur­rent trends in the job mar­ket, some of the pro­posed en­abling fac­tors for the in­di­vid­ual learner are as fol­lows:

Fo­cus on judge­ment-driven skills: Pre­par­ing the stu­dent for com­plex-decision mak­ing by in­cul­cat­ing the softer as­pects of the job re­quire­ments in the cur­ricu­lum — ne­go­ti­a­tion skills, an­a­lyt­i­cal think­ing, com­plex prob­lem-solv­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, peo­ple man­age­ment and cog­ni­tive flex­i­bil­ity

Per­son­al­ized learn­ing paths: Of­fer­ing learn­ing roadmaps aligned to in­di­vid­ual con­straints

of time, lo­ca­tion; and cus­tom­ized so­lu­tions to gain the skills that are needed, through in­no­va­tive us­age of tech­nol­ogy and ped­a­gog­i­cal tech­niques

Ped­a­gog­i­cal in­no­va­tions to pro­mote ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing: Op­ti­mally us­ing peer-to-peer learn­ing, gam­i­fi­ca­tions, vir­tual re­al­ity and aug­mented re­al­ity, sim­u­la­tors etc. to en­hance the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of stu­dent and in­te­grat­ing ed­u­ca­tion with real-world ex­pe­ri­ence

Flex­i­ble pro­gram struc­tures: De­vel­op­ing flex­i­ble en­try and exit sys­tems for the learn­ers to al­low them to gain work ex­pe­ri­ence and up­skill as needed

Life­long learn­ing: Let­ting the stu­dents “un­learn and learn” new skills

To en­able the stu­dents for this sce­nario, the higher ed­u­ca­tion ecosys­tem needs to relook at the way it has been op­er­at­ing cur­rently. Some of the pro­posed ar­eas of in­ter­ven­tion are as fol­lows:

PeS­trate­gic out­look in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy: HEIs need to ex­pand their world­view to a global out­look. They have to re­think their strate­gic ob­jec­tives in a fully con­nected world of any­where, any­time learn­ing, by of­fer­ing dif­fer­en­ti­ated learn­ing so­lu­tions. They have to think of in­no­va­tive mod­els to fi­nance their op­er­a­tions, while shar­ing the risks and re­wards of ed­u­ca­tion with the learn­ers. They need to look at tech­nol­ogy as the en­abler and the in­no­va­tive use of tech­nol­ogy in cur­ricu­lum and ped­a­gogy as a strate­gic dif­fer­en­tia­tor.

Open sys­tems: Uni­ver­si­ties to­day re­sist change, while the uni­ver­si­ties of the fu­ture would need to en­cour­age change. There is a need to have a mod­u­lar stack­able ap­proach to teach­ing.

Out­come-driven learn­ing sys­tems (com­pe­tency-based mod­els): The uni­ver­si­ties of the fu­ture would be out­come-driven in­stead of in­put-led. With com­pe­tency-based in­put sys­tems, and trans­par­ent as­sess­ment and stan­dard­iza­tions – the HEI of to­mor­row would be flex­i­ble in ap­proach and strin­gent on qual­ity out­comes. Tech­nol­ogy would be the en­abler of this change.

Dif­fer­en­ti­ated co­horts: The co­horts of to­mor­row would be a mix of first-time stu­dents and ex­pe­ri­enced work­ing pro­fes­sion­als, learn­ing and in­ter­act­ing in a blended model — both on­line and in the real world. The univer­sity needs to be pre­pared to cater to the var­ied needs of these co­horts.

There is also a need for the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment to be con­ducive to these changes. The reg­u­la­tors also need think global, and need to be ag­ile enough to re­main ahead of the curve. There is a need to pro­mote flex­i­bil­ity to­ward out­come-driven sys­tems, and move to­ward a self-dis­clo­sure and ac­cred­i­ta­tion-based sys­tem.

While the par­a­digm of higher ed­u­ca­tion needs a trans­for­ma­tion in its ap­proach and vi­sion, there is a need to break these into ac­tion­able ar­eas. The re­port rec­om­mends some mid-term and long-term ideas to drive the In­dian higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem to­ward a more ag­ile in­dus­try­in­te­grated sys­tem of learn­ing. The re­port looks at some world class prac­tices in HEIs that could hold im­por­tant guid­ing ref­er­ence for the HEIs in India on tak­ing ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to be bet­ter pre­pared for the learn­ing needs of to­mor­row.

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