Skill-based learning has become a necessity today as we live in an era of unprecedented transformation. The advent of new technology has led us into a growth-driven era full of opportunities but are we ready to capitalise on this? Of late, there has been much talk about transforming the traditional higher education system into a skill-based one. The National Education Policy 2020 emphasises practical, hands-on skilling rather than classroom-based learning. India has been grappling with challenges like unemployment and graduates who are unemployable and lack soft skills. Despite having a wide pool of talent, many youngsters are unable to find jobs due to a lack of the required skill sets.
What we need is to understand the difference between skill-based and knowledge-based education. The latter involves understanding concepts whereas the former aims to channelise education into a practical form to find solutions. It is the second that many companies want. They are looking for talented people who can innovate, are open to learning and re-learning, can apply their knowledge practically and will also upskill themselves.
According to consulting firm McKinsey, around 69% of companies globally are focussing on skill-building and more than 50% believe that the pandemic and the challenges it threw up have increased the demand for a multi-skilled workforce. According to an Accenture report titled Fueling India’s skill (R)evolution, the country could lose 2.3% of its annual growth by 2028 if skill-building is not on par with modern technological interventions.
Bridging the gap
While our higher Education System is currently undergoing several changes, the growing need for seamless coordination of a classroom-based curriculum and practical skills-based learning demands that our institutions and academicians begin designing a different kind of curriculum that focuses on research, development, and training. This can be achieved through the following means:
Industry-Academia partnership: A strong collaboration with the industry to impart skilled courses to students will be essential. Higher education institutions (HEIs) must bring in experts from the industry to their laboratories so that students are aware of the developments on the ground. Regular seminars and classes and internships and on-the-job training/ live projects are also excellent ways to learn the industry’s inner workings. Over time, this will allow academia to update existing learnings with newer methodology and ensure an advanced pedagogy.
Government-academia partnership: The government can help institutions by providing the appropriate infrastructure required for advanced labs and research and development wings. A collaboration between the government and HEIs with regard to apprenticeships and incentives will help students get sufficient experience before they make their debut in the real world.
The writer is co-founder and COO, Sunstone.