Higher education must prepare students for the future of work, says Dr. Ajeenkya DY Patil

March 2: The rise of new technology is influencing the existing economic and employment landscape. The rate at which it is happening is unprecedented. Approximately 60 per cent of all jobs that exist today won’t be there in 10 years’ time. It is not job losses but job changes that are shifting the paradigm. Education in India needs to adapt to the demands of the modern, technology-driven workforce and prepare students for jobs, not degrees.

Education institutions need to reexamine the programs they offer. Even though there will never be a shortage of aspiring doctors, bankers, engineers, or business managers, when we add ‘tech’ as the future enabling factor to these same professions, sectors like healthtech, fintech, consumertech, and spacetech become more relevant to the market, revealing a certain gap in the skills required to get there.  These are some of the areas our students are graduating into that are growing exponentially and have the highest employability in the world.

The year 2021 successfully put India on the global startup map. Investing abroad pumped $35 billion into digital startups – a threefold increase from 2020, according to Tracxn. As an example, the healthtech sector ranked fourth globally for venture capital investments since 2016, an astonishing ten-fold increase in five years. However, the segment makes up only 1% of the entire healthcare market. A search for healthtech courses in India reveals a lot of short-term, fast-tracked courses aimed at entrepreneurs looking to launch their startups. Therefore, the question we are left with is, how are we preparing India’s burgeoning youth to take advantage of these high-growth and high-employability segments?

In order to shape the future of education in India, educational institutions and senior management must embrace innovation and technology. In my capacity as Chairman of the Ajeenkya DY Patil University and affiliated educational institutions within the DY Patil Group, that remains our top priority as we explore, adapt, and prepare our students for a digitally connected and internet-dependent world. Graduates are entering a world that is considerably more demanding of their time and skills since it is more uncertain. Nowadays, it is not enough to be knowledgeable about the roles they fill. They also need to stay on top of, and ahead of, the rapidly changing trends in their industry.  Programs we are developing at our university are designed to produce leaders who possess the skills and qualities that are in demand in current growing sectors and will remain relevant for the coming era of technological advancements.

Graduates entering the labor market must have skills that are future-ready and can be demonstrated through work-integrated and experiential learning experiences. In order to prepare students for jobs that may not yet exist, to navigate an uncertain future, and to shape the sustainable, prosperous, competitive, and diverse society in which they want to live, education must also equip students with the latest knowledge, relevant skills, foundational competencies, and meaningful experiences.

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