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Universities have to catch up with tech-driven students

education Updated: Nov 17, 2016 17:10 IST
HT Education Correspondent
higher education

To prepare for the future, universities need to use MOOCs to develop programmes, a Ficci-EY report has recommended. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

India’s educational institutes follow a concentrated learning model that emphasises on fixed-duration courses. This does not suit the needs of the learners’ technology-dominated lifestyle. Offerings from academic institutes have to change to enable students understand how they can get good returns on their investments (in education), a report by Ficci and EY, Future of jobs and its implications on Indian higher education, has said.

The rapid evolution of technology, because of which innovations are reducing costs and time taken to develop and market productions, will bring about a huge change in the nature of jobs by 2030. Cognitive machines, robotic workforce – estimates say robots will take over most jobs within 30 years – automation (autonomous cars will bring down jobs, say of taxi drivers) and artificial intelligence will replace human workers.

Deep learning (machine learning based on a set of algorithms) and smart machines have enabled automation of manual work and affected tasks performed by information works. Industrial automation and robotics have reduced labour requirements across sectors such as transport and logistics and retail, putting at risk a substantial number of jobs. India is the world’s second largest growing services economy currently, but till 2020 the next wave in its job market is likely to be driven by the new pillars of technological growth, government reforms and socio-political advances. SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies are already disrupting sectors such as e-commerce, content creation and dissemination, e-gov services and retail. The government’s decision to relax FDI norms in sectors such as civil aviation, single-brand retail, defence and pharma will attract big investments and boost job creation. Terrorism, cyber attacks and illegal migration will lead to increased employment in areas such as disaster management, business continuity planning and homeland security.

As a result of these drivers, SMAC will create 5-6 lakh jobs by 2020. Cloud computing, estimated to be a US$650-billion-US$700 billion market by 2020 will require security architects, network engineers, cloud based developers and specialists. As India is among the top 10 destinations for analytics with around 600 firms and 90,000 professionals, job growth is expected in areas such as custom visualisation, software, and predictive ­analytics. AI, being used for jobs of data mining, virtual assistants, decision support systems and automated reporting, will also require skilled workers.

Among an exhaustive list of what varsities needed to do, the report recommended improvement of interactions with industry to assess learning needs; focus on applied research; use freely available content/knowledge/MOOCs to develop programmes and credits for new areas of interest. Choice-based credit system was also the need of the hour.

Read more: Record 31 Indian varsities in Times Higher Education Rankings 2016-17