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