Knowledge is the new currency, says Ratnesh Jha, MD, South Asia, Cambridge University Press

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New Delhi | Published: December 17, 2018 1:56:03 AM

India is likely to have the world’s largest workforce by the middle of next decade.

south asia , cambridge universityRatnesh Jha

India is likely to have the world’s largest workforce by the middle of next decade. With the right knowledge, our youth have the potential to reach newer heights and add value to the economy’s growth. “Knowledge is not quantitative but qualitative currency that has the ability to propel the growth of our economy,” says Ratnesh Jha, MD, South Asia, Cambridge University Press, the publisher that is part of the University of Cambridge and provides educational material to millions of learners in India and South Asia. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that India, with a thriving ICT, has the potential to become a major knowledge economy as long as regulatory, education & infrastructure barriers are streamlined. Excerpts:

Why is ‘knowledge’ being considered as the new currency for the economy?

The way world is evolving, with growth in technology, data is driving the way humans and machines interact, bringing in many disruptive set of sources that demand constant knowledge upgrade. In this context, involving innovative learning can be considered as the first step to counter change. It is knowledge that enables us to discover new possibilities and create or invent newer abilities.

India is likely to have the world’s largest workforce by the middle of next decade. With the right knowledge, our youth have the potential to reach new heights and add value to the economy’s growth. Therefore, knowledge is not quantitative but qualitative currency that has the ability to propel the growth of our economy.

What potential does India have to lead a knowledge-based economy?

India, being one of the fastest growing economies, with a thriving ICT, has a huge potential to become a leading knowledge economy as long as regulatory, education and infrastructure barriers are streamlined. But teaching methodologies need to be relooked; focus should be on encouraging logical thinking and creativity amongst students. India’s current education ecosystem must look upon problem-based learning, student-centred instruction and competency-based training. With customisation of learning content as per industry needs, leveraging its strengths in human capital and ICT services, India can lead as a knowledge-based economy.

And what kind of competencies should students equip themselves with?

The most important competencies are inherent curiosity and willingness to learn. Willingness to acquire new knowledge prepares one to keep up with modern trends and tendencies. Well-educated individuals can immensely contribute not only to the growth of any organisation, but also to economic growth. Additionally, workplace competencies are required in order to build a nation into a knowledge economy.
Communication skills, computational thinking and problem-solving skills, ability to work in teams and ICT skills, among others, are complementary to basic core or foundation skills. Even more than other workers, knowledge workers rely on workplace competencies.

In order to facilitate these competencies, special emphasis needs to be placed on the development of educational infrastructure, curriculum, research, innovation as well as on the improvement of generic skills and enhancement of the use of technology as a tool in teaching and other innovative learning processes that can be evolved through online and distant learning programmes.

How can customisation of learning content help acquire emerging skills required for industry?

Customisation of learning content is imperative in order to match emerging skills that are most relevant for contemporary industry practices. A fundamental transformation of education and training is required to address competencies required to remain competitive and overcome skill challenge. We need to realign our thinking process by adopting active learning and basic skills, where individuals can deal with multiple situations.

Therefore, learning content should be customised in a manner that it can help cut across skills such as intrapersonal, interpersonal, and other skills supporting evolving technology practices like data interpretation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, amongst others. Knowledge and reskilling will continue to play an important role and help address concerns, which even new-age machines would fail to address.

What role can networking platforms play in creating and sharing knowledge?

There are multiple sources of knowledge and the widespread social network and technology platforms have empowered us to initiate discussions, work together with people, and share knowledge from almost anywhere across the globe. Thanks to the proliferation of internet, where anyone can now have access to knowledge/information about anything, and create and conceptualise their content at just the click of a button.

While the access has increased, so has the content. We have platforms like Quora or teaching websites with series of videos for learning and blogs to share within a teaching community.

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