Last year, the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report had predicted that artificial intelligence and robotics will take over more than 5 million jobs by 2020. The report noted that “some jobs will be wiped out, others will be in high demand, but all in all, around 5 million jobs will be lost.”
In addition to robots taking over, the increasingly competitive job market is making the lives of employees no easier. The dynamics have changed considerably—just a college degree no longer guarantees a job. This is because the rapidly advancing technology has transformed many jobs and the sought-after skills for professional success.
To cope with the current workforce’s needs and culture, employers are seeking employees who are skilled in artificial intelligence, robotics and Big Data. This is a skill-set that most Indian colleges and universities do not include in their curriculum.
And it’s not just artificial intelligence and engineering skills that are in-demand these days. With businesses going global and dealings with international clients becoming a norm, soft skills are more important than ever for potential employees.
According to the findings of the SEED Report 2016 (Student Enrichment and Employment Development), the employment scenario in India has changed for the better, but the curriculum continues to lag behind. Although a lot has changed in terms of market trends and technology, the education system needs updating. Most college curricula in India are still not equipped enough to teach in-demand, job-ready skills. Aspiring Minds, the country’s leading employability solutions company, recently conducted a survey and the numbers reveal that India has almost 8 lakh engineering diploma holders who enter the job market every year and only about 20% of them are employable. A report by Assocham presents that of the lakhs of business graduates produced every year from over 5,500 business schools in India, only 7% are employable. This ascertains the fact that there is a major gap between learners, potential employees and employers.
With all of these factors at play in India’s education and professional landscape, the massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer a solution for employees and employers. MOOCs help in bridging the gap between what employers want and what are the skills job-seekers possess. Job-seekers in India do not need to be dependent on their traditional curriculum alone, but can take an unbundled approach to education and pick and choose online courses and programmes they need to advance their skills and expertise.
An example of this is the MicroMasters Programs, developed by MIT and adopted by various universities. MicroMasters Programs meet the needs of top corporations and provide learners with valuable knowledge and a career-applicable credential for highly competitive in-demand fields, while also providing a new path to a Master’s degree. Adding MicroMasters to a resume/CV or LinkedIn can help one advance his or her career. MOOCs make it easy to learn from any top university across the world from home, and since courses are online, they are easily updatable to stay in sync with the latest job trends and workforce needs.
Many use online learning to upskill or reskill to get a new job or to do better in their current careers. Digital learning helps job-seekers stay updated with the latest trends and technologies, and not become obsolete. India has a large youth population and MOOCs can be a perfect answer to job woes, considering online learning’s impact and cost-effectiveness. MOOCs are one of the latest progressions in the education sector and have the potential to go a long way in India. By embracing flexible, online learning programmes that expand access to higher level and continuous education, India can pave the way for democratisation of quality education for all.
The author is CEO, edX, an online learning destination and MOOC provider. Views are personal