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Focus is on unlearning, upskilling, and reskilling, say experts

January 08, 2024 01:03 am | Updated 01:03 am IST - CHENNAI

The panel ‘Skilling for the Future’ took a look at the transformation occurring in the industry and the tools students and aspirants will require to keep pace

From left, Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, former CMD, Cognizant India and partner, Catalincs; V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT-M; J. Innocent Divya, Managing Director, TNSDC; Praveer Sinha, CEO and MD of Tata Power Company Limited; and Kirti Seth, CEO of IT-ITeS Sector Skill Council, NASSCOM, at the panel discussion held during GIM 2024 on Sunday. | Photo Credit: M. VEDHAN

The need for unlearning, upskilling, and reskilling became a talking point among representatives of the government, academia, and industries during a session on ‘Skilling for the Future’ held at the Global Investors Meet 2024 (GIM 2024) in Chennai on Sunday.

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“We have to embrace change. There is a transformation which is occurring in the industry. We need to keep pace with that and that is the actual challenge,” said IAS officer J. Innocent Divya, Managing Director (MD), Tamil Nadu Skill Development Corporation (TNSDC). She highlighted how under the Naan Mudhalvan scheme, the State government is working towards improving the skills of the youth.

Praveer Sinha, CEO and MD of Tata Power Company Limited, recalled how Tata kept reinventing itself. It was important to unlearn and relearn some important skillsets. “Individuals have to be trained and retrained so that they are good to use future technology, which actually gives us an opportunity to enhance skillsets,” he said.

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V. Kamakoti, Director, Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M), said his institution strongly believed that interdisciplinary education was quite important. Recalling his experience from the ‘rocket factory’ at IIT-M, he said students from at least eight different discipline came together to produce four 3D-printed rocket engines.

Underlining the role of academic institutions in this regard, Prof. Kamakoti said they had to create a good foundation and a very good core understanding of engineering or any other discipline. He urged the youth to learn how to use artificial intelligence, and added: “If you merge it with the parent discipline, I think you will become employable today.”

While moderating a session, Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, former CMD, Cognizant India and partner, Catalincs, said each of the five large information technology companies – TCS, Accenture, Cognizant, Infosys, and Wipro – have made more than 1,000 job offers in one or more colleges in the country almost every year in the past 10 years. “And these are institutions such as VIT, Sastra, SRM, constituent colleges of Anna University, and Amrita,” he said. Without naming it, he said one private company in Tamil Nadu was approaching 1,00,000 full-time employees. “These data points are clear validation that the talent available in the State provide a platform for meteoric growth,” Mr. Ramamoorthy said.

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Building digital skill

Kirti Seth, CEO of Information technology (IT)-IT enabled services (ITeS) Sector Skill Council, National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), said as technology progressively came into human lives, demand for human skills, such as thinking, creativity, and problem-solving had risen. “No matter what you study, whether you are an art, history, or philosophy student, learn Digital 101 and technologies, because technology pervades everywhere.”

Sharing his thoughts, Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO, Coursera, said the learners of Coursera from Tamil Nadu focused more on building digital skill. Learners from Tamil Nadu focused on courses such as Foundations: Data, Data, Everywhere; Crash Course on Python; Foundations of User Experience (UX) Design; Ask Questions to Make Data-driven Decisions; and Foundations of Cybersecurity.

About 50% of Coursera learners from India were from Maharashtra (4.1 million), National Capital Region and Karnataka (2.6 million each), Tamil Nadu (2.3 million), and Uttar Pradesh (1.2 million), Mr. Maggioncalda added.

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