What the tea leaves foretell: gazing into the future of education and employment

India’s young population is growing progressively and by 2030, the country is expected to account for the world’s largest young and working-age population. In this context, higher education system will play an extremely crucial role in propelling India’s talent pool in the right direction.

Higher education has been given utmost importance in India, as evident in the expansion of the sector in the past decade – the number of Indian universities increased from 436 in 2009-10 to 903 in 2017-18. The sector has also produced talent that went on to become the CEOs of some of the largest global conglomerates like Google and Microsoft. Yet, the current structures of the Indian higher education are lagging in meeting the demands of the current employers.

Covid disruptions have accelerated the adoption of Industry 4.0 across the world. Indian industries are increasingly embracing advanced technologies like AI and AR and shaping the new future of work. Many leaders across industries have been vocal about the inability of the current education system to produce employable talent. In Deloitte’s Dean Survey 2019, 78.3% respondents marked employability of students as the second biggest challenge.

For many decades, the structure of higher education has continued to remain unchanged not only in India but globally too. As a result, students are imparted with expansive knowledge but limited and sometimes no practical skills. Expensive fee structure is another significant hurdle, especially in the post-Covid bleak economic scenario. On top of these challenges, Covid has closed the gates of universities and colleges indefinitely, making structural reforms in education almost mandatory.

Launch of professional courses by Google

Recently Google sent shockwaves around the world when it announced the launch of its cluster of professional courses for the most in-demand high paying jobs in high-growth fields. These 6-month courses are designed to impart foundational skills that will help students to secure a job immediately.

“We need new, accessible job-training solutions–from enhanced vocational programs to online education–to help America recover and rebuild.” – Kent Walker, Sr. VP, Global Affairs, Google.

Kent Walker further tweeted that Google will consider these new courses equivalent of a 4-year degree course in their own hiring. Although the pricing of these courses was not disclosed, it is expected to be considerably lower. The courses are designed by Google employees working in the respective roles, who would also be the teachers. This makes the courses extremely relevant in the present-day.

All eyes on Indian educators

This move by Google has the potential to bring about major transformation in the future of education and employment. It’s time for Indian educators to understand the need of the hour and bring about some fundamental shifts in the educational structures whereby students can develop a practical skillset that makes them the perfect candidate for specific high in-demand industry roles.

With Covid limitations, e-learning has gained tremendous popularity and credibility globally. Online education is flexible, accessible and cost-effective but experts feel, it cannot fully replace the need for physical on-premise education model. It is thus envisioned that the future of education should ideally be a hybrid space where both online and offline domains persist simultaneously and help students to learn and develop skills fast and easy.

It is essential that industrialists and educators come together and collaborate to develop an ecosystem where employers are consulted before developing a curriculum so that the gap between the talent demand and supply can be erased. This should also be complemented by a better equipped faculty, newer student evaluation methods, and innovative course funding models.






Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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