Vibhor Goel, CTO, Anudip Foundation is an industry leader with 20+ years of experience with large MNCs like Cisco, IBM and Siemens where he helped create product development teams and solved problems of scale. Vibhor joins Anudip from ThinkTac where in his role as a CTO and COO he helped democratize K10 science education. Solutions that bridge the digital divide and create curious self-driven learners excite him. From his stint of working with an education startup, he brings in passion for utilizing technology to solve the challenges of skilling at scale. His areas of interest are “Digital Manipulatives” and “Learning Pathways.
The future of human society, and with that, the future of work, are being reshaped by a number of powerful forces. The report: “Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030” from PWC identifies the following “mega-trends”:
- Technological breakthroughs: rapid advances in technological innovation
- Demographic shifts: the changing size, distribution and age profile of the world’s population
- Rapid urbanization: significant increase in the world’s population moving to live in cities
- Shifts in global economic power: power shifting between developed and developing countries
While we already see these forces at play, the speed with which they will unfold make predictions about the future very challenging. The World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report 2020” predicts that 85 million jobs will be displaced by 2025 due to the impact of automation in tandem with Covid-19 pandemic. In the same report, it also predicts that 97 million new jobs will be created by the emergence of new roles.
Let us take a look at the Banking sector closer home to understand the disruptions caused by digitisation and automation. ATMs, internet banking, mobile banking, are just a few examples where retail banking has been transformed, which in turn has transformed the employment mix within the sector. As per the Reserve Bank of India publication, the percentage of clerks in the workforce across all scheduled commercial banks used to be around 45% in the year 2003-04. The same percentage had almost halved in the year 2018-19 to 24%. The percentage of officers, on the other hand, increased from approximately 32% to 64% during the period.
So which are the jobs and skills at risk? And more importantly, which are the skills for the future?
As the rapid pace of innovation in the Banking sector has shown, jobs that require repeated manual skills or basic digital literacy are most susceptible to disruption due to automation and technological advancements. Though it is difficult to predict the exact jobs of the future, the skills required to be ready for tomorrow can be predicted.
Various think tanks, policy making institutes and industry bodies have concluded that the skills of higher order thinking, emotional and social skills, basic and advanced technical skills, communication, and collaboration have to be acquired to be future ready. Learning discipline and managing self and others will also be an important skill as employees keep pace with changing demands and continuously upskill themselves. These skills for future readiness are also called the 21st Century skills.
Physical and manual skills will still be the largest category of workforce skills, but its importance will continue to decline.
Traditionally, our education system has not developed such 21st Century skills in learners, and consequently, employers of today are finding it quite challenging to hire the right talent or train existing employees on such skills.
So, how could we go about preparing the grassroots to be future ready? Do it quickly in a scalable, affordable manner? To be successful at scale, any program should satisfy the following seemingly discordant requirements:
- Affordable yet personalized learning: Curiosity and creativity cannot be achieved by treating the classroom as a whole. Teacher handling a class of 30 students will have to see each student as an individual
- A behaviour change requires a trained teacher to be available to the students. Teaching capacity has to be built to achieve scale
- Encourage learning discipline at scale. Experiential learning to replace rote learning requires a mindset change in curriculum as well as pedagogy
- Assessing 21st Century skills: Assessing is challenging due to the open-ended nature of activities through which such skills tend to manifest themselves best. While specialized test instruments for some of the 21st century skills exist, they are quite expensive, they have been designed in the developed nations and their integration with curriculum and assessments in schools would require careful design and training.
The National Education Policy recommends the “appropriate integration of technology into all levels of education – to support teacher preparation and development; improve teaching, learning and evaluation processes; enhance educational access to disadvantaged groups; and streamline educational planning, administration, and management.”
The policy has the objective of transforming curriculum and pedagogy to “minimize rote learning and instead encourage holistic development and 21st century skills such as critical thinking, creativity, scientific temper, communication, collaboration, multilingualism, problem solving, ethics, social responsibility, and digital literacy”.
While these recommendations take effect in the schooling system, innovations in “for profit” as well as “not for profit” private sector is also preparing the grassroots to be future ready. Usage of technology to assess 21st Century skills, facilitate capacity building, tools and content to stimulate the skills – all seem to be interesting problems for the innovators to solve. Ed-tech beyond test preparation has the potential to energize the ecosystem.