21st Century Skills to Participate in the World Economy

21st Century Skills to Participate in the World Economy

Here is a scary question: Will our students be able to succeed in a global economy, which expects them to not only foresee but also solve abstract problems, learn new languages in addition to their mother tongue, ascertain relevant information and flourish as a team-member?

With an average age of ~27 years, India is the youngest among the developing countries in the world. This means a substantial percentage of our youth is seeking jobs and we need to train them accordingly. However, the traditional classroom-based education is anything but practical. Though institutions have began adjusting their curriculum to accommodate skill-based trainings, the sheer scale of such change management commands for a helping hand from other sources if not an alternative. In the recently announced budget, Modi government has emphasized on developing skilled labour. Special Training centres shall be established across India to ensure that professionals receive the requisite training, keeping them relevant to the fast-changing needs of the industry. The aim here is to create an industry-ready workforce whilst ensuring the eradication of illiteracy. This article covers some of the essential 21st-century skills an individual should possess in order to participate in the world economy.

Communication: Communication is a broad term, which includes every kind of interaction and information sharing. In digital terms, today’s students spend hours daily on their smartphones. Many of them have multiple accounts across different social media. They love to communicate with each other through these means and are open to try the latest option available. Thus, the students’ Media/Technology Literacy is at an advanced stage. With such a low threshold for acceptance, it is important that students maintain quality of communication. At the same time, students should also practice learning new languages. Globalization has ensured companies span across diverse regions. Multi-lingual profiles are in great demand owing to the ease of work. Knowing a new language makes one open-minded and aware of the other culture. Language learning is frowned upon in India and it is time students are motivated to learn different languages. At EDHEC, we offer a French Learning scholarship to students from India even though knowing French is not a pre-requisite.

Collaboration: Social Media ensures students have a certain social life. While sharing information online, students tend to learn from each other. In short, they understand the true meaning of feedback and co-creation. This ease of working with others can do wonders to the confidence and productivity of students in their professional phase. Working in a company requires team management skills. Students should be provided adequate training to face these challenges.

Professionalism / Ethics: Responsibility as a virtue holds big value in the professional industry. It is achieved through professionalism and continuous learning. Accountability, empathy and adaptability are some of the key traits employers want in their recruits. Emphasizing on these traits among students will ensure they become self-aware and responsible global citizens. Mind you, do not confuse professionalism and ethics with ambition.

Critical Thinking: Technology has no doubt made life easier for an average citizen. However, rise in complexity of these technologies bring with them complex problems. Today’s students are highly receptive, self-learners and tech-savvy. It is important that students focus their energies on formulating solutions for real-world problems. Mentoring students to think in different dimensions, considering hitherto overlooked positions and a proactive approach are some of the key challenges of the teaching class. These skills are invaluable and will be in great demand in the professional space going forward. Students with an analytical mindset will be offered better roles, bigger responsibilities.

Creativity & Innovation: For way too long, Indian professionals have been followers. There has not been any significant technological inventions by Indians in the last 70years. A substantial blame for this should go to the education system of India during this phase. Students have been scared into accepting the idea of following the herd. In recent years, Students are being motivated to build their curiosity and imagination to follow their interests. The sooner they are inspired to thinking independently; they will be able to flex their thoughts. Innovation is based on one’s knowledge. With information at their fingertips, students should be inspired to pursue innovation. Thus, creativity & innovation can be a vital outlet to create self-awareness of one self’s abilities and accomplishments.

About the Author
Author: Nilesh Gaikwad
Nilesh is the Country Manager for EDHEC Business School France, ranked 1st WorldWide for its Programmes in Finance 2017. In his current profile, Nilesh handles all India-related activities for EDHEC Business School including but not limited to Corporate Relations, Brand Expansion etc. By qualification Nilesh is a Management Consultant & an IT Engineer. He has diverse work experience in Strategy Building & Execution, IT Product Management & Marketing across firms like 3i-Infotech Ltd, TimesGroup & Giftery. He has a cross-industry experience of working for start-ups as well as conglomerates. Nilesh regularly writes for leading newspapers on topics related to Education & Management.

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