We live in an age when the future is more uncertain than it’s ever been before.
Most of this uncertainty arises because of one simple, inescapable fact – the world is constantly changing. New words and terms have been coined. Jobs have evolved. Skills have changed. An age of disruption is upon us, and if the next generation is to survive and thrive in this new job market, a major overhaul of the education system is urgently required. We live in an age when the future is more uncertain than it’s ever been before. Most of this uncertainty arises because of one simple, inescapable fact – the world is constantly changing. New words and terms have been coined.
Jobs have evolved. Skills have changed. An age of disruption is upon us, and if the next generation is to survive and thrive in this new job market, a major overhaul of the education system is urgently required.
The gap between the skills taught in traditional education systems and the skills required in the real world has never been wider. Traditional classrooms have always approached education with a one-size-fits-all mindset. A rigid, predetermined curriculum would be decided upon and every student, no matter their aptitude or inclination, would be measured against its standard.
This left brain-centric approach, which prioritises the teaching of logical and analytical skills, is rapidly being supplanted by automation. Meanwhile, right-brain strengths such as creative thinking, intuition, and problem-solving – in short, all of the skills that can’t be automated or assigned to computers – remain ignored and underdeveloped.
The faults in current education models
The failure to teach these vital life skills in classrooms comes down to two simple reasons – an inadequate and outdated curriculum, and a lack of properly trained faculty. These issues are especially apparent in India. Our country is home to the largest formal education system in the world. Over 1.6 million schools educate approximately 260 million students, while 39,000 accredited colleges oversee 27 million undergraduate and 4 million postgraduate students. While these figures are doubtless impressive, the overwhelming numbers have also placed an overwhelming burden on educational infrastructure. Subsequently, teaching methodologies and techniques are stuck in the past and educators who are trained to a modern standard are rare and overworked. The end result is a generation of students equipped with skills that are already dated by the time they graduate.
Redefining skills in the 21st century
In the face of this global skills crisis, a holistic change in our approach to education is required. The traditional focus on a select group of subjects, and the clear cut division between STEM subjects and the arts, need to be replaced with an entirely new set of practical skills. A foundation in technology, financial literacy, effective communication, and global exposure are the new tools that will drive the workplaces of tomorrow.
Today’s job market has pivoted towards impactful and actionable skills. Certifications don’t mean as much as actionable talent and real-world experience. Candidates must now be equipped with much wider skills than ever before – most of which they are unlikely to have learned through the traditional education system. Job candidates are now expected to be proficient in collaborating as part of larger teams, communicating effectively with internal and external stakeholders, and equipped to solve complex problems. These skills are primarily developed through social-emotional learning (SEL).
When combined with traditional skills, proficiency in SEL equips students to immediately make an impact in today’s digital economy. This is best achieved through the implementation of a holistic system of education. The central framework of this educational model is based on the overall development of a child’s personality and skills, ultimately ensuring their future readiness. This grounded approach to education, with its emphasis on life skills, will only continue to become more important in the future.
New solutions for a global era
To effectively overcome these challenges, we need to adopt a multipronged solution. The first step is an overhaul in teaching methodologies. Government and private players need to come together to implement new educational standards and processes. Theoretical learning needs to take a backseat to hybrid models that provide students with both technical and practical learning solutions. Soft skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, and social awareness need to be prioritised.
However, wide-ranging systemic changes take a long time to effectively implement. In the interim, these gaps in curriculums need to be filled by ed-tech companies. Over the last decade, digitised learning platforms have emerged as a key supplementary education system. Staffed by certified professionals and experts teaching globally-approved curriculums, these platforms provide students with the extra edge they need to succeed in a highly competitive market.
Going forward, the job market will continue its shift away from a certificate-driven model to one that puts skills first. Parents who want to secure their children’s future in this rapidly changing scenario need to act on this knowledge and utilise the tools that best help their children harness the next-gen skills needed to succeed.