The management of workplaces is likely to undergo profound changes due to compounding effect of technological transformation preceded by the turn of event such as COVID 19. This will necessitate ‘resume-readiness’ for our students to cater to the changing requirements. Academic fraternity must gain a few insights from this perceived ‘resume-readiness’ and incorporate changes in curriculum and pedagogy, before it gets too late.
One of my friend, a professor teaching in a reputed university, emphatically shared that the job of the academic institution is to impart domain knowledge and employability is students’ problem! On a different note, I had the opportunity to converse with another friend who runs ‘an empire’ of coaching institute, primarily into teaching and training graduates for various competitive exams (government and private), and also preparing students for admissions in reputed institutions. He said, “Academic institutions are providing degree, but the job of teaching and skill building is done by us. This is why you see students are paying so much for studying with us, however when it comes to paying to academic institutions they want it for free.”
Reports brought out by the World Economic Forum on future of jobs, employability and skill (2020, 2022) keep on indicating towards the cost meted out to parents and students entering higher education. The cost is generated and thrusted upon parents and students due to inability of the higher education to change curriculum and teaching pedagogy in accordance with the fast changing requirements of market, government and society. Higher education positioned as ‘degree granting institutions’ failed to focus on livelihood aspect and it amounted to a ‘lost generation’ (WEF Future of Jobs 2020). This gave rise to huge ‘employability gap’ among graduates, which forced many to incur additional cost on acquiring ‘relevant’, ‘contemporary’ and ‘employable’ knowledge and skill. As if the role of higher education is just to keep on imparting domain knowledge, as it has been doing from last 200 years or so.
Select trends by 2025
According to various reports, some of the trends likely to stay central to managing world of work, more so in next 3 years, are as follows:
- Companies will invest heavily in Health, Hygiene and Safety.
- Companies will continue striving to increase diversity, equity and inclusion.
- People are looking for alternate ways to communicate, and virtual reality is good fit.
- Organization will re-examine how they impact the environment.
- The top skills and skill groups which employers see as rising in prominence in the lead up to 2025 include groups such as critical thinking and analysis as well as problem-solving, and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.
Resume Readiness for Job 2025
Evidence of being an Active Leaner & Problem Solver:
Active learners are engaged learners. Students who approach learning with sense of purpose, exploration and co-creation would in all probability would have a better problem solving approach. Students’ ability to do pre, post work, and flair for details enhance competencies much respected and demanded by the world of work.
Decent academic records and achievements:
Academic records and achievements are highly respected by the world of work. However, the academic success records need to correlate with the knowledge demonstrated by the students. In a rote-learning environment, it is highly unlikely that the academic degree would reflect the actual competencies and knowledge. This is where students have to incur additional cost to build knowledge and competencies from open market. Looks like that the problem of employability lies in ‘learning failure’.
High quality internship and hands-on learning:
Internship is a good way to acquire practical knowledge. It brings relevance to classroom, enables students to relate learning with the real world. The avenues of internship in post COVID world has expanded in its scope and it is available in both online and offline mode.
Record of high impact participation in internal and external events:
Event participation is a wonderful way of indirect learning. The resume of students at the end of the day must provide evidence of active participation in academic and non-academic events. This reflects leadership quality, agility and more importantly learning-by-doing.
Imprints of learning in National, International environment:
Exposure to international learning environment is priceless. Students who prefer to join exchange program, study visits etc. are able to develop inclusive worldview. Sharing of experiences of learning in international environment would count much in the world of work. Institutions where students move out and visit places, industry, top institutions goes on to make a lot of difference on their outlook and hence employability.
Evidence of acceptability and understanding of Diversity, Inclusion, Gender and Sustainability:
In a highly globalized world, graduates have to be ready to work in a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic workplace. It is important that institutions adopt diversity and inclusion as important competency goals. Orienting towards fairness and equity, towards gender and sustainability issues are of great significance.
Records of Micro-credits earned:
Micro-credits can be earned joining online courses and learning modules. These micro-credits are valuable in filling in the essential employability gap. These self-paced learning modules demonstrate learning aptitude of graduates.
Evidence of impact making and creative pursuits:
The learners of today and tomorrow would make more sense when they become the change agent and be instrumental in solving problems faced by the society. Working with NGOs, taking up some social cause, championing an idea, create strong advocacy and so on are some of the examples of impact making. Gaining knowledge and skill is input. Knowledge and skill making student employable and a worthy graduate, is an output. However, such graduates going out there and becoming a change maker and problem solver is an outcome.
Consideration for Curriculum & Pedagogy
We have long prepared students for work by teaching them the fundamentals of subject area and the particulars of their specialization areas. Nevertheless, the future of work will also require the 21st-century competencies of critical thinking, agility, and resilience. We must help students master the transferrable skills they will be able to use in any setting, while also giving them the tools to understand a world that is in constant flux.
Among other things, we will have to add new courses on suitable topics. At the same time, we will need to change our students’ mental “software”—the way they think about, interact with the world, and make them active learner.
Academic fraternity can no longer restrict their teaching to the current state of theories. Instead, we must develop stronger connections with policymakers, work more closely with think tanks, and move from merely referring to textbooks to align with new thought processes and people.
Unfortunately, teaching methods have not seen as much changes as it needs to catch up with the changing time. Comparing with the west, Indian teaching method is still heavily loaded towards system of lecturing. Lecture method of teaching is bristled with difficulties and it makes students a passive learner rather than creating a pool of active learner. It is based more on what a teacher knows rather than what the students know or want to know. Methods such as co-creation, independent studies, project based learning, collaborative learning etc. still do not figure as much as it should have been. Pedagogy is a matter of serious concern and it needs to change faster than the curriculum itself.
Preparing students to face the challenges of the future workplace and be ready to embrace the change, would require subtle changes in curriculum and pedagogy. Institutions, which fail to learn the lessons for change, would for sure fail to make any mark.
Comparison of Teaching Pedagogy in India with USA (Based on various sources & experiences)