A first-generation entrepreneur, Dr. Jitin Chadha is the Founder Director of Indian Institute of Art and Design and Indian School of Business and Finance. Based on years of robust research and industry-needs analysis, he established the IIAD) in 2014. Spearheaded the academic collaboration between IIAD and Kingston University (KU), becoming the first international ‘Collaborative Partner’ of the Faculty of Art Design and Architecture at Kingston University. As a young entrepreneur, Dr. Chadha established ISBF in the year 2006 after returning with a master’s degree from the UK. In a span of 10 years, he established an institution that boasts of undergraduate and postgraduate study programs in Economics, Finance and Business Management with an excellent team of academicians and a campus in the heart of New Delhi. Dr. Chadha was awarded his Doctorate in Finance in 2011, in a grand ceremony chaired by the HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal and Prof. Dinesh Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University.
According to the National Sample Survey, of the 470 million people of working age in India, only 10 percent receive any kind of training at all. And according to an official skill gap analysis, well over 400 million people need to be up-skilled or re-skilled across 24 sectors by 2022. In comparison, the government is only able to train 3.1 million each year.
There are a number of skill development initiatives that have been started by various governments to empower the youth and build job availability. For instance, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, National Apprenticeship Training Scheme, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushal Yojana, National Urban Livelihoods Mission, and the National Rural Livelihoods Mission. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was created to ensure that India is “skill ready” for the 21st century. However, despite all these initiatives, there is still a lack of skilled manpower. Even though there are new schemes being launched every day, most of the skilling programmes are not updated as per industry demands and are ill-equipped to adapt to the dynamics of the global economic environment.
While the majority of the youth population in the country may be literate, it is severely unemployable. The UNDP India Skills Report 2018 stated that employability stood at just over 45 percent in 2018. Alarmingly, the OECD Economic Survey: India 2017 claimed that more than 30 percent of Indians in the age group of 15-29 years are neither employed nor are pursuing any education and training. For India to grow to its potential in real terms, this Goliath of a workforce must be properly trained and upskilled to match up to the employment demands of the industry. The employability and skilling programmes need to train the youth on a broad spectrum of skills and not focus on a narrow frame. This way they can learn adaptability and flexibility and change along with the job profile.
Challenges for Academicians
From times past knowledge has been synonymous to power. The academics were the receptacles of knowledge and therefore, had the power to shape the social, economic and political scenarios. Today, digitization has transformed the economy. Students now have access to world-class education and resources at their fingertips through online knowledge sharing platforms and are much more equipped to challenge their faculty/mentors with discussions and deliberations. Teaching has now moved away from mere “gyaan” dissemination to collaborative learning where students explore and experiment in their quest and faculty are the mentors who suggest various methods and means to achieve a particular learning outcome.
For academics and institutions in India, one of the major challenges is to calibrate themselves as learners and adapt themselves to the changing dynamics of education. Outdated curriculum, rote learning and lack of quality research remain the chief hurdles in the way of Indian higher education institutions from reaching international standards of education.
Industry 4.0, Future Jobs and the Skills to Survive
It is absolutely certain that repetitive jobs will be replaced by automation in the coming future. That trend has already begun. As Artificial Intelligence progresses, more machines will be trained better to take over the everyday jobs and even the ones that require sufficient amounts of human intelligence. We are already seeing the evidence across the world.
Throughout history, it has been prevalent that when one type of job is taken over by another, the human workforce has had to be upskilled and new jobs were created. For instance, in the early part of the 20th century, horse drawn carriage was still the mode of transport. The jobs were available for carpenters, ironsmiths, upholsters, horse owners, carriage makers, etc. By the mid of 20th century, cars had taken over the market and the jobs shifted during the industrial revolution to factory assembly line jobs – assembly operators, fitters, etc. The process keeps repeating itself every few years or so.
In the current scenario, what’s certain is that graduates need to future-proof themselves by gaining an application-oriented, industry-relevant education and constantly updating themselves with the latest trends – data science and analytics, machine learning, AI, being only a few of those trends. All jobs will require critical thinking and pragmatic problem-solving, therefore, educationists need to focus on creating decision-makers.
Information and shared resources will be the core of industry 4.0. An intricately connected and shared world, supported and enhanced by AI, will emerge. Physicality will not be the address that any industry will aim for. Companies in the Silicon Valley will be interconnected and share resources with Bangalore, Korea, Japan, China, Rwanda and many more. This is already underway and will continue to be the way forward.
Basic education and skills as per the job description is the baseline for any role. However, today, as the start-up culture rises and ‘hustle’ stands the buzzword, the focus is more on qualitative skills like critical thinking, entrepreneurial mindset, problem-solving, decision-making and excellent interpersonal and communication skills. The ability to comprehend business problems in real time and respond effectively and efficiently, knowledge of the product, a point of view backed by facts and figures, all these are much sought-after traits in the world of recruitment, be it in any industry or sector. Recruiters also look for the capacity to work collaboratively and adapt according to the changing needs of the business, which is why it is extremely important for the higher education programmes to create independent thinkers and problem-solvers than mere technical experts.
Being an Edu-preneur in Today’s Time
I firmly follow the famous saying by Thomas H. Palmer, “If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try, try again.”
As an entrepreneur, I take inspiration from my peers who have transformed their respective fields of work through sheer perseverance without putting on a pompous show of success. The vision with which I became an edu-preneur, bringing international standards of education to Indian students at an affordable cost and achieving excellence in Indian higher education system – it drives me to work harder.
I don’t deem failures as absolute setbacks. I consider them to be life’s unique lessons and something that nature has planned for us in advance. For the last 25-30 years, I have been skiing regularly and every year, during my ski program, even though everything has been planned to the minutest detail possible, more often than not we encounter changes and hurdles that challenge us. However, these challenges should be considered as an opportunity to change and move forward, not as hindrances. Opportunities should not make us complacent and hurdles should not make us flustered. If one can continue with their vision, while accepting hurdles and opportunities as nuances, success is assured.
In my opinion, any successful business needs at the very outset a firm vision that the founders believe in religiously. Apart from that, an entrepreneur needs to remember that it’s not a one-man show; for a successful business, there needs to be a high-quality team in place that is trusted and empowered to make decisions and works in tandem with the vision of the founder. The key thing to remember is that success doesn’t happen overnight, therefore, all the cliché terms that are associated with successful entrepreneurs – perseverance, determination, passion, obstinance to make a difference, sacrifice – everything stands true.
Generating New Ideas to Redefine the Indian Education System
The mantra is simple – Think hard, study the market, research as much as possible.
Education in India needs to witness a significant upgrade. As a nation, we seem to accept mediocrity easily. On the contrary, time and again, Indian has proven themselves to be tremendously creative, innovative and intelligent. Yet, our education system is stuck in the past while the rest of the world has moved a million paces ahead. Most of the world has experimented with education and have figured out that independent thinking, experimentation, exploration and problem solving needs to be inculcated in the student. India is caught in a time warp and is lagging. We have the demographic dividend which we need to mine now. Should we let this opportunity slip by India will always remain a developing country.
Education policies need to be more focused on learning outcomes and teaching quality than the quantitative aspects like infrastructure. They also to be more open towards international collaborations and build a more conducive environment for prominent global higher education institutions to work with the Indian institutions. To solve the problem of human capital in the shorter run, Indian institutions need to stand on the shoulders of their global counterparts that lead in delivering world-class education. This will significantly enhance the quality of teaching pedagogy we follow here and create industry-ready graduates.
My Advice to the Students
It’s time that the present and the upcoming generation move away from rote learning and learn to ask questions. As a student in school, we are still taught to stay mum than look stupid in front of our teachers and friends by asking questions. This thought process needs to change. Students need to learn to question the fundamental assumptions of the world and critically analyze what they are being taught in the name of education. The spirit of enquiry needs to be cultivated and nurtured if we want our youth to compete at a global stage. Students need to develop curiosity within them to challenge the conventional theories and trends and forge their way as independent thinkers. Times are changing, and the youth – the torchbearers – need to be on their toes. (As told to the Editor)