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Vineet Gupta Ashoka University Founder On The Need To Evolve Higher Education

By Anuj Cariappa
Google Oneindia News

As per latest reports, India's unemployment rate is presently hovering at around the 8% mark, which is a major cause of concern to the policy makers in the country. Unemployment has a severe impact on a variety of growth parameters in a country and, in the wake of the pandemic and the subsequent global slowdown, unemployment becomes an even greater challenge. "Education has and will be the means to reduce unemployment in society but as economies transform, old tertiary models of education will not be sufficient for the demands of a 21st century workplace", adds Vineet Gupta Ashoka University Founder. Education systems thus have to evolve with the times and be better equipped to train the workforce of tomorrow.

Vineet Gupta

Finding the right balance - key to development

Several steps need to be undertaken in order to bridge the gap between our present education system and the demands of the industry. A few possible interventions:

  1. Focus on new technologies - Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and IoT are re-shaping innovation. Every industry needs graduates adept at these technologies. However not many colleges across India focus on these technologies in the manner they should. India produces about 8000 robotics engineers every year whereas the demand is for about 50,000 an year.
  2. Relook at what is Foundational knowledge: "When I graduated in Engineering in 1991, Mechanical Drawing and Tool Room training was foundational and everyone was required to do this. Today, Computation and Data Science have become foundational. Computer Science is no longer a separate discipline but integrates with every discipline. Similarly Design thinking and critical thinking are becoming foundational. The curriculum at universities needs to be revamped to incorporate these emerging foundational competencies", says Vineet Gupta Ashoka University's Founder.
  3. Bring in experiential learning: "There is no substitute to learning by doing", says Vineet Gupta. Corporates which are responsible for bulk of the hiring from universities have to spend months training students with skills that are not a part of their education. This gap can be filled through internships and apprenticeship programs which can be a part of a student's curriculum. Many US universities have co-op programs which allow students to do as many as 2-3 internships over the course of their degree. These internships could be as long as 9 months in some cases. "Students may take an extra year to graduate but will be much better trained in the long run and will have more rewarding careers", added Vineet Gupta.
  4. Rethinking pedagogy: The workplace of today also demands graduates to have the ability to deal with complex situations with no standard answer. An approach that encourages students to learn from textbooks only will not work. Curriculum should encourage students to research and come up with different perspectives to a problem. Debate, discussion, research and project-based learning will not only encourage students to think out of the box but also help develop key skills of critical thinking, effective communication and problem solving.

The current slowdown and macro-economic weakness will not last forever and there will be periods of job market boom soon. "The education system needs to be in sync with the changing trends and anticipate which areas will create more opportunities in the coming decades", concluded Vineet Gupta Ashoka University's Founder.

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