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Over the next five crucial years, the professional sphere and the education industry need to work in tandem and strengthen the talent in our country. Our education system is at a juncture where it must realign the industry talent needs and empower learners to emerge into capable professionals. A synergy between industry and academia based on a careful understanding of industry talent requirement will shape the future of education and put India back on the education world map.
VR and AR technologies will also be a huge part of the EdTech sector in the future and educational institutions can make learning fun and accessible by investing in these technologies.
The education industry has changed tremendously over the past fifty years. However, the next five years are going to witness certain changes like digital transformation, the rise of education technology, change in instruction and assessments, artificial intelligence, redesigned learning spaces and gamification, on a scale that has never been experienced before.
Consequently, there are some important questions that need to be directed at an urgent need for holistic and experiential learning. Why are they required in the first place? And how exactly do these changes plan to reform and revolutionize the current education system?
Well, to start things off, it’s imperative to have a good understanding of the current predicament of the Indian education industry.
Education is as education does
I truly believe that “Education is as education does” is a thought that perfectly encapsulates the current dynamic between the educational and professional spheres of the country. This is because of the glaring demand-supply gap that has emerged in recent years in the Indian professional sector.
The professional sector is brimming with some truly incredible opportunities, but the percentage of skilled professionals claiming them is tiny. As a leading education service provider, the Manipal Group continuously studies the changing dynamics in the field. During our research for the recent IT Industry Whitepaper we produced, we found that it is getting increasingly difficult to fill niche roles. For instance, while the supply for traditional roles like Java Developer and Programmers is twice the demand, the number of ideal candidates for emerging roles like Data Scientists and Data Engineers is still half the demand.
The problem roots back to an elementary level - lack of quality education. Most fresh graduates, especially from the engineering background, do not possess industry-relevant skills to make it big in the ruthlessly competitive professional sphere. As per the latest report by All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE), enrolments in colleges have risen from 32% in 2013-2014 to 36% in 2017-2018, but employability score (i.e. students employable by companies) remains low.
I feel that we have brought this on by focusing too much on theoretical knowledge, not promoting experiential learning enough and often having an outdated curriculum. Often, we find Indian educational institutions update their curriculum once in five years.
How to turn the tables?
Here are some of the suggestions that I believe can revolutionize the educational sector:
High focus on holistic assessments: While grades are important, they don’t necessarily translate to proficiency in terms of industry-relevant skills. Combining holistic assessments with education can allow teachers to understand a student’s strength and weakness and suggest a corrective action plan. The focus should be on assessing and teaching as a continuous regimen, as opposed to a one-time exercise.
Emphasis on imparting skills, not just a degree: A degree in hand may not always help graduates in landing a rewarding job. It is time for institutes to start training students in industry-relevant skills through experiential learning.
From passive to active learning:
A study by the NTL Institute of Applied Behavioral Sciences shows that active learning is the most effective way to learn. And we have experienced it, haven’t we? Students can grasp as much as 50% of the subject through group discussions as opposed to a negligible 5% from lectures. It also indicates that the way we teach isn’t the way students want to learn.
Experiential learning is a key element of imparting knowledge effectively and we aim to encourage it. For instance, our professional learning service, Manipal ProLearn, recently co-hosted a Global Datathon event in association with the Data Science Society, which helped our students get a broader picture of the industry. We also frequently host meet-ups, seminars, and workshops with industry experts so that our students are well-equipped for their professional future.
Coupling of formal education with online learning: Well-designed online courses can help arm students with relevant knowledge that can supplement their theoretical skills. Another reason I advocate online courses is because they can be taken up by both students as well as professionals as per their convenience, learning capacity & pace and further strengthen their resume.
Encouraging inquisitiveness: Instead of making students answer questions, the trend should reverse to them curiously ‘asking’ questions and seeking answers. The ability to reason and logically breakdown problems is essential to make it big in the professional sector these days. Take, for example, the most exciting job of the 21st century - data analytics. You will notice that recruiters are placing maximum emphasis on testing the analytical skills of the candidates.
Stress on effective communication skills: Close to 60% of Indian recruiters look for impressive soft skills in potential recruits, as per a recent Times Jobs survey. It means fresh graduates should learn the art of presenting ideas clearly and articulating them effectively while listening to others’ opinions as well.
Up the game by up-skilling: A key issue in the professional sector is that fresh graduates aren’t holistically educated in terms of being truly ‘industry-ready’ and this is where the Manipal Group aims to step in and revolutionize the way the graduates of our country are being skilled.
During our research for Manipal ProLearn, we found that corporates divide career aspirants into four categories:
• The Forecaster: Proactively learns to be future-ready
• The Jumper: Wants a career change because of choice
• The Growth Seeker: Wants to keep up with the young multi-skilled employees
• The Troubled One: Wants to learn to avoid losing his/her job or requires a new job
We are using this framework to help corporates identify their target groups with relevant up-skilling programs. In fact, I am glad to see the trend of up-skilling and re-skilling catching up with both corporates and professionals. It shows that both the parties realise the importance of ‘continuous learning’ and the various benefits it brings along.
Embrace the technologies of the future: VR and AR technologies will also be a huge part of the EdTech sector in the future and I feel that educational institutions can make learning fun and accessible by investing in these technologies.
Over the next five crucial years, the professional sphere and the education industry need to work in tandem and strengthen the talent in our country. Our education system is at a juncture where it must realign the industry talent needs and empower learners to emerge into capable professionals.
A synergy between industry and academia based on a careful understanding of industry talent requirement will shape the future of education and put India back on the education world map. After all, the professional world has started prioritising relevant skills over educational degrees and so should we. We hope to contribute our best towards rebuilding the educational and professional industries by offering the required skills to the incredible talent in India.
This article has been written by Mr. Ravi Panchanadan, Managing Director and CEO, MaGE and it was originally published in Business World.