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.
Skilling in the 21st century
Aptly labeled ‘21st century skills’, these are intended to help students stay relevant in a changing job market. These are critical for young people to build their agency and define their learning processes. Critical thinking, creativity, digital literacy, collaboration and communication are but some of the skills that will empower them to become self-learners, enabling them to become lifelong learners. Hence, 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.
However, classrooms — as we understand them — haven’t always kept pace with this changing world. Moreover, skilling is complex, shoring itself up as learnings beyond school and needs to be addressed at multiple levels within the existing ecosystem for change to be long-term and sustainable. This calls for creative thinking, strategic partnerships and balanced resource allocation funneled through a synergistic approach.
With as many as 4 million youngsters between the ages of 15 and 29 set to enter the workforce each year for the next two decades, India can make massive gains from its demographic dividend to transform its economy
To this end, although government-led skilling initiatives are noteworthy, they are chiefly oriented towards sector-specific technical or vocational training. While these skills are crucial, they are inadequate for the technology-led disruptions of the future of work. The only salve is to build a more holistic set of skills that will allow the development of meaningful and sustainable career pathways. To add to this, a joint effort — looping in the private sector as well as other area practitioners — will go a long way in ensuring the efficacy of skill development programs, as well as enhance their relevance to the employability needs of today to create greater impact.
Creating value through partnerships
Founded in 2005 as an innovation and collaboration–focused coalition of State governments, NGOs and funders, Quest Alliance started off with the objective of demonstrating and scaling up models that develop 21st century skills in learners and educators — steadily playing the role of an ecosystem builder.
An approach that supports government and private sector initiatives to build a robust school-to-work ecosystem will play an instrumental role in shaping the employability trajectory of the country.
It was ingrained from the outset that for the skill development ecosystem to thrive, it is imperative that the organisation works in congruence with other nonprofits and the private sector (by way of CSR) – be it to widen existing perspectives, upscale ongoing initiatives or make targeted interventions to address gaps in the skilling space. Another extension to this is the government, since skill training is as much about advocacy as it is about achieving quality numbers.
From a macro perspective as well, Quest Alliance hosts an annual conferencedesigned to initiate conversations with stakeholders to learn, educate and share insights about the ecosystem. Additionally, it develops sector reports that map the sector, identifying areas of collaboration in order to meet common goals.