The race to build a world of better education, few places compare with India for the scale of the challenge and the ambition. The PM of India has recently highlighted the problem of India’s “acute skills shortage”, and how this is hampering the pace of economic growth and undermining international competitiveness.
There are a number of reasons for this. Traditional rote-learning, for centuries the teaching style of choice, where students regurgitate knowledge, is increasingly out of sync with workplaces that value emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. Team-building, conflict resolution, empathy, leadership, and resilience – this is the stuff of the successful 21st century worker; but it is not the stuff that schools are sufficiently good at teaching.
The Pearson India reported in annual Voice of the Teacher survey that 57% of Indian teachers consider their students insufficiently prepared for employment on completing school. Three quarters of teachers want greater industry input into course content – a theme that has to be heard loud and clear.
Yet the infrastructure is there to make big improvements. Technology lets us learn what we want, when we want, at the pace we want. It can give us instant feedback and tell us where an individual – I – am going wrong and what I need to do to progress. And most importantly of all, it can do this for billions more people than the traditional classroom can. Not just access to learning - but also progress.
This skills challenge is not one of those great, intractable global issues. Solutions shouldn’t be hard to come by. It will require closer collaboration between educators, and employers. Nobody knows better than employers what sort of skills are needed for the workforce, and nobody knows better than teachers how to impart these skills onto young people. Governments need to put in place structures and incentives which encourage this collaboration.
The Free market forces and government policies may determine unemployment levels, but with the right education, nobody ever need be unemployable. India needs to continue to think outside the box when it comes to skill enhancing the population.
Get it right, and we all win: the school leaver gets the job, businesses get their talent, and a nation continues to lift itself up.
This blog post incorporates excerpts from skilling-india-world-