How to prepare young people for the future of work and lifelong learning

“With little idea about the jobs of the future, the key responsibility of the education system is to equip young people with the skills needed to manoeuvre this ever-changing landscape.”

With the future of work and learning having been the key focus at Quest2Learn Summit 2019, Dr Anantha Duraiappah – Director of the UNESCO MGIEP – helped map the landscape of education to make sense of the opportunities that lie in lifelong learning.

Here’s a thought-provoking excerpt from his keynote speech at the Summit:

‘Leaving no one behind’ has been at the center of UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) with its emphasis on equitable and inclusive education. Anchoring his keynote speech at Quest2Learn Summit 2019 around this theme, Dr Anantha Duraiappah – Director of the UNESCO MGIEP – spoke about the problems plaguing the education sector and the structural changes needed to promote equity and inclusion.

Dr Duraiappah opens with some startling facts that shed light on the level of extremism and intolerance prevalent among the youth in India and the sense of anxiety and depression common among this subset of the population today.

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How can we make women ITIs future-ready?

As a step towards bringing more women to the workforce, Quest Alliance – in partnership with JP Morgan – hosted a round table on ‘Driving Holistic Reform in the Women ITI Ecosystem in India’.

With the aim of bridging the gender gap in India’s workforce, the multi-stakeholder participation led to several important solution strategies.

Women’s participation in the workforce continues to decline across the world.  The situation is particularly stark in India, some of the reasons for which are expounded here.

While the battle to fight social norms keeping women away from the workforce will be a protracted one, an urgent step towards bridging the gender gap in India’s workforce was taken in the form of a round table on ‘Driving Holistic Reform in the Women ITI Ecosystem in India’.

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What is keeping women from working in India?

Women’s labour force participation has never looked promising, but the decline in numbers in the last two decades have been alarming. One of the major reasons for this drop is the rise in the number of women in formal education, which in turn delays their entry into the job market.

But the real travesty is that the few who do enter the labour force are faced with gendered distribution of jobs, which is mostly concentrated in low productivity industries.

Women’s careers may be peaking in the world of Indian films, but the narrative in real life tells a different story.  Only 27% are in the labour force – down from 35% in 2004. And this fall is even sharper when seen from the lens of women in the age group of 15-24 years. Almost half are not in education, employment or training, compared to just 8% of young men.

This is critical in the larger context of declining female labour force participation rates (FLPRs).


According to a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), while 2.4 million women fell off the employment map, jobs for men increased by 0.9 million in the same time period. This meant that while women were quitting jobs, more men were joining the workforce.

Why is this happening? Why are women withdrawing from the world of work?

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Preparing Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s World of Work

‘A future of skilling strategy should look beyond the technical skills required for specific job profiles, and instead, seek to cultivate a set of core skills that can help chart meaningful and sustainable careers.’  

This – and more – was articulated and shared in an article originally published  by FVTRS on their souvenir for National Skill Conference 2019. 

What we’ve seen at the workplace in the last decade is a confluence of technological advancements — one that has negated some jobs, albeit creating new ones. This accelerated pace of innovation has provoked some into thinking deeply about the possibilities that lie ahead — an important development given that most jobs of tomorrow will demand entirely new skill sets.

This begs the question: how can one upskill oneself for an uncertain future?

Having established the fact that the future of work is largely ambiguous — compounded by an ever-changing technological landscape that will continue to redefine future opportunities — identifying skills that will help offset some of the challenges that such a transition brings with it will be a good place to start.

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Three keys to building a learning organization

Through learning we re-create ourselves, thereby extending our capacity to create. This, then, is the basic meaning of a ‘learning organisation – a body that is continually expanding its ability to create its future.

While it may seem like stating the obvious, the concept of a ‘learning organization’ is not comprehended correctly by most establishments. Learning – in contemporary usage – has come to be synonymous with ‘taking in information’. Yet, that is only distantly related to real learning.

Organizations claim to care dee­ply about learning, but their understanding is purely technical – be it scholarly learning or industrial expertise. But learning is different from knowledge. It is deeply connected to the vision one builds for oneself and before exploring the lesser-explored aspects of it, it would be wise to understand what it broadly means in this day’s context.

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How Quest Alliance is playing the role of an ecosystem builder with Q2L

“We need to ask ourselves – are we really putting our heads together as a community to work on a problem? Or are we doing it in our own spaces?”

As the city cools off amidst a string of showers, so does the fervour that characterised this year’s Quest2Learn Summit. Weeks of relentless work had culminated in a two-day conference, inadvertently setting the standard for discourse around the future of work and learning.

In a freewheeling chat at the Bangalore International Centre, Aakash Sethi – CEO of Quest Alliance – sinks into a chair, ready to organize his thoughts and reflect on the days that passed by and what it means for the ecosystem. Excerpts:

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Not just another IAS aspirant

While it may not be entirely inaccurate to say that cyberspace may be saturated with desperate accounts of IAS-aspirants hailing from smaller towns. But I’m willing to bet that 17-year-old Amisha is special. Here’s why!

“A little to the right…no, too much…slight left…slight right…perfect!”

The limits of my moderately-priced phone’s camera is tested as it tries to do justice to the innocence and charm radiating from its subject. When not smoothing out the crease on her kurta or adjusting her spectacles, this lanky 17-year-old beams into the lens, silently imploring me to release her from her misery.

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Meet Amisha Choubey.

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