By Kartik Bajoria
In order to effectively identify three specific skills that will help children in an increasingly disruptive world, we must first understand what disruption means. In my perception, a disruptive world means one where paradigms are rapidly shifting, the status quo is being constantly challenged, the resultant ‘environment’ is both dynamic and unstable. This has been brought about primarily as a result of the giant leaps and speed at which technology is evolving and shaping our lives. In its most positive sense then, a disruptive world is exciting, enticing, adventurous and kinetic. Having said that, it requires skills that will help children navigate, prepare and solicit the best from this ever changing climate (primarily vocational climate from their perspectives).
Children, especially in India, tend to be somewhat rigid. We are brought up in relatively strict environments with a tremendous focus on what we are going to study and eventually pursue as careers. Once these decisions are made, it is as if they’ve been etched in stone – permanent, eternal. While that kind of approach and dogged commitment might have been advantageous until recently, in today’s era of disruption and rapid, tectonic shifts in jobs, sectors, industries; it will help immensely if children develop the ability to be adaptable. To be open to changing their minds and tracks of higher education, to be open to changing their academic and career paths if they stumble upon a sphere of study and/or work that either interests them is a skill. Children will only be able to capitalise on these disruptive movements and turn them into opportunities if they can develop this mindset adaptability.
As the world transforms into an AI (Artificial Intelligence) led, hyper-connected, tech-solutions driven global village, a greater number of jobs being performed by humans will be replaced by robots and machines. And while this debate has worried many, the view that humans will remain irreplaceable and only our ‘roles’ will be redefined, is a logical and plausible argument. Having said that, students and children will, as a natural consequence, be wise to prepare themselves scholastically by enhancing their domain-knowledge in technology, AI, IT and robotics, though just as importantly, they will do well to simultaneously develop the skill of being able to apply their collective technical knowhow to a vast array of diverse situations, problems, areas, sectors, industries. It is this tech-versatility that will hold future working generations in good stead.
Since time immemorial, predicting the future has been the elusive yet enticing pursuit of many. Who wouldn’t want a sneak-peek into tomorrow’s world? Here though, I don’t refer to gazing into a magical crystal ball to find out whom we might marry, or what our children might look like. By forecasting ability for students and children, my advice is for them to develop specifically, an ability where, based on intellectual information, they can forecast the developments and requirements of the job market in the foreseeable future. A rudimentary example of this could be a student currently wanting to study and pursue Car Design must be, by reading and being aware, know that the car designer in the near future will be expected to be an expert at Electric/Battery Operated Car Platform Design. So the ability to read trends that are going to turn into big-ticket businesses and generate a significant need for human capital; predicting that will naturally place young people who are studying today, with a distinct advantage in the future.
There are challenges galore of living in a disruptive world. Uncertainty and even a broader existential crisis for the human-race isn’t entirely in the realm of the absurd. However, if children stay focused on their individual journeys with a strong view on present evolutions, they can become invaluable resources despite the disruptions!
(Kartik Bajoria is a writer, educator and moderator.)