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Preparing For: Industry 4.0

As much as Industry 4.0 provides an unparalleled opportunity for India Inc., the flip-side is a lack of skilled professionals who are capable in this domain

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During her maiden budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman praised India Inc. by saying that the country’s job creators are the nation’s wealth creators and she wished them to prosper to kick start the cycle of growth. As India’s GDP enters the $ 5 trillion orbit, India Inc. will face both challenges and opportunities. Greater integration into the global economy, expansion and growth, the focus on driving shareholder wealth and the importance of good-governance – rest assured senior executives will face pressure like never before.

The $5 trillion excitement aside, India Inc is also having to come to terms with Industry 4.0. The digital revolution is still in its early stages in the country and the mainstreaming of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of things) is still in its infancy. 

As much as Industry 4.0 provides an unparalleled opportunity for India Inc., the flip-side is a lack of skilled professionals who are capable in this domain. Our education system is still structured towards meeting demands of the bygone era of industrialization, yet advanced analytics, big data, robotics, AI and IoT are affecting every aspect of how we live. The good thing is that India has finally started to revamp/rejig its existing education policy for something that promises to cater to the requirement of a new digital India.

To meet the industry demands of skilled professionals with domain expertise, it is important to equip young people with the right skillsets from an early age. Primary education plays a very important role as it is every child’s first step towards many different levels of knowledge and can shape future attitudes to learning. Getting young people ready for future jobs is about much more than helping them to find work. It’s about equipping them to be lifelong learners – giving them the skills to adapt to a rapidly changing employment market.

A good example of how to get this done can be seen in countries like Germany, Switzerland, and South Korea where they have adopted a dual education system. A dual education system combines apprenticeships in a company with vocational education in a school. In this system, students undertake apprenticeships in companies where they get quality and quantity training to get insights about a specific trade and in the other part, schools provide a wide range of subjects and flexibility, giving students the chance to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to achieve at school, university and beyond.

In Switzerland, for instance, 70 percent of young people opt for a technical and vocational route when they are about 15 years old which has resulted in lowest youth unemployment rates for the country in the world - at just 2.4 percent in January 2019.

Another way of preparing students for employment is to focus on developing their skills and global outlook, alongside subject knowledge. In India, international boards/schools have successfully managed to introduce new ways of learning and teaching by introducing international curriculum which sets a global standard for education and is recognised by universities and employers worldwide. The curriculum developed by the international boards like Cambridge International combines an emphasis on mastering subjects in-depth with the development skills for study and work in the future. 

With changing needs of the labour markets, schools in the country have started focusing on the value of deep subject knowledge as well as the conceptual understanding that helps students make links between different aspects of a subject. The pedagogy encourages students to develop higher-order thinking skills - problem-solving, critical thinking, independent research, collaboration and presenting arguments. These are transferable skills that will last a lifetime and are sought-after by employers worldwide. 

 The Indian education system is one of the largest in the world with more than 1.5 million schools, 8.5 million teachers and 250 million students from varied socioeconomic backgrounds. With its young demographic profile, India is on course to be a dynamic and outwardly focussed nation churning out millions of young graduates eager to eager to make their mark on the world. A high quality, research-led, immersive and skills-based education system is the need of the hour if we are to help our youth embrace this new world. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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