Empowering Future Skills for Tomorrow’s Workforce


Naveed Anjum, IDA

India is witnessing a humongous rise in its younger and working-age population, which is estimated to become the world’s largest by 2030. According to a Delloite report, India is expected to account for about 20 per cent of the total young talent pool supplied by the non-OECD G-20 countries. With the nature of future jobs changing drastically and many jobs seem to be fast disappearing and new ones appearing, it is estimated that by 2022, certain job roles would go largely redundant, while some others would gain importance.

The advent of robotics, artificial intelligence and automation has paved the way for evolution of new jobs and skills. Considering the nature of the jobs, one must possess special skills to be able to compete in the job market. Degrees alone won’t make any difference in the age of automation and artificial intelligence. Elon Musk, Co-founder and CEO, Tesla in one of his recent statements said, “If you don’t have a college degree, it won’t hold you back from working for Tesla.” This statement made by Elon Musk is an eye opener for all of us. India’s education system focuses more on degrees rather than inculcating skills among the students.  According to the UNICEF report titled GBC-Education 2030 Skills Scorecard, only 47 per cent of Indian school graduates by 2030 will have the basic skills to be employable, which is quite worrying. Another UNICEF report blames the low quality and suboptimal vocational training which does not give students the desired skill levels the labour market demands. These skills include those related to the use of technology, digitization and automation that most professions now rely on and require their staff to know at least the basics of these.

Embracing new technologies is extremely important for various industries like robotic process automation, IoT edge computing, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cybersecurity. Their successful integration will only bring success to the workplace. A 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) report found that in many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. There is a need to develop and evolve the existing skills to make oneself relevant in the evolving job market. These skills are technology-linked core work skills (the new-age skills of data analysis, machine learning skills, app development skills, AR/VR development skills, information security analysis skills), interpersonal communication skills, analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies, creativity, complex problem-solving, leadership, emotional intelligence, reasoning, ideation systems analysis, evaluation and social influence.

Market Demands and Curricula

In the post-industrial era, the skills once obtained in a college or a university were considered to be for lifetime. However, the times have changed resulting in the decline in shelf life of skills. Educational institutions have not kept up with these changes. According to Delloite’s Dean Survey, 64 per cent of the Deans in the survey think that the absence of a fresh curriculum is a challenge for the Indian higher education system. The growing gap between college curricula and market demands is a major challenge for the higher education sector today and has led to widening of the skills gap in the talent entering the market.

The take away from all this is that the future of work won’t be about degrees but it will be about skills. And no one school can ever insulate us from the unpredictability of technological progression and disruption.


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