The concept of higher education is changing.
More and more courses and institutions are looking to prepare students not only for the rigours of employment, but are also taking painstaking time to ensure that should a student have a great idea or feel that they are able to carve a niche for themselves in an existing market, the tools of entrepreneurship are also well entrenched.
This is a different concept from many universities and certainly not something that parents of a previous generation would understand. For them, going to university or getting a higher education was simply to improve your chances of getting a better job. Making you more employable. It was something that reduced the risks in commercial life. Not increased them or made a person more willing to take them.
But times have changed and this is fueled by the market itself. Universities worked so hard to create fodder for employment that they never stopped to think what would happen when there is too much fodder available. This is now a reality and you see it everywhere. Well trained (or not so well trained) young people with degrees in Business, Computers, Engineering, Accounting, etc. simply unable to find employment that befits their education because there is nothing for them.
We have oversupplied the market and its showing. Therefore, our talented young people are looking to spread their wings. Take their ideas and become entrepreneurs. No sense letting that degree to to waste, better to see if you can find the capital and resources to make a go of your ideas yourself. And we can see this happening across the country. Start up boom is hitting India in a big way and the internet is fueling enterprise from the young. And the restless.
Yet its not being embraced by the university system openly as yet. There is a feeling that this would change the rigid system that most universities function in and would call into question the recruiting patterns that they have established with most corporate companies. Therefore, the question does arise if we are training our new generation completely for the challenges that would almost certainly await them? I am not sure. Entrepreneurial skills and the ability to start up something on your own is becoming increasingly important yet most syllabi do not even touch on the most basic of these needs. Its worrying that even in streams like Business and Commerce, Universities are continuing to focus a student’s mind on theory related subjects which will check all the boxes in an HR interview but are unlikely to yield much value when it comes to dealing with real world challenges, especially of the small business variation.
There is some hope though. There are institutions who have awoken to this need and are focusing more and more learning on getting students to be problem solvers and ideators. It is from this ideation that small business ideas and potentially great business ideas arise. Google of course was born in a garage from the wildly intelligent minds of two students focusing on problems beyond their IT backgrounds. It is by thinking of real world problems that people can truly be inspired to create ideas that will change the world. Yet most of our Higher Education teaching remains one dimensional and non-applicable.
During my time teaching at Whistling Woods International I have seen this first hand. When students first joined the institute they felt the training they were receiving was to equip them for doing a job. Working with a project or in an organization. Yet as the years went on, we saw that more and more of our students created little niches for themselves even whilst studying, so that when they graduated, they seamlessly shifted into the business world running their own company upon the principles of learning that was taught to them. Seeing this, we have bulked up our learning on enterprise, soft skills, collaboration and leadership that will hold a student in good stead no matter where they land up. Employed or self-employed, these are skills that are invaluable.
As I said, a lot of India’s young talent is hungry with lots of good ideas. The sad part of it is at times our education system is seemingly restricting these ideas from coming out, rather than encouraging them to see the light of day. It is important that our higher education system becomes as dynamic and innovative as the students they hope to educate.