Preparing students for the fourth industrial revolution by working on their Life Skills and Degree Choice
Not only teachers but also institute’s management focus their attention on how to enable their students to get excellent GPAs with remarkable life skills so that they may add value to the profession or industry of their own choice. To this end, they undergo professional development courses, attend seminars, webinars, workshops, conferences and try to update their content knowledge and skills under trying circumstances. Those in the private sector (elite class) are fortunate in the sense that not only they get very handsome salaries, a very advanced infrastructure (multimedia, smart board, air-conditioned classroom, well-stocked libraries) and numerous opportunities to get trained by experts and international trainers. Looking beyond the other side of the bridge, we find the majority of schools do not have basic infrastructure, teachers are underpaid but overutilized, bureaucratic channels, no direct access to school management or administration and the teachers are working, in some cases, under financial pressure to make both ends meet. The situation further worsens when the teachers are hired not based on qualification and experience but considering the financial health of the school owner. Some of the teachers are too young to handle the board classes and the problem of classroom discipline and management becomes a top priority rather than educating the class, academically as well as morally.
The world is changing with Psychological Paradigm as the Fourth industrial revolution has become the talk of the town and now employment is being offered based on the skillset that enables the graduates to meet the newly defined industry standards. Technology is the bedrock of this new era. We have frequently come across the terms like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, BlockChain, Faster Computer Processing, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, Biotechnology, Robotics, the Internet of Things, 3D Printing, Data Science, and Data Mining. In simple words, the world has become a knowledge economy and only those will survive who will become aptly skilled knowledge workers. Only knowledge will not be sufficient but interpersonal skills like communication skills, conflict resolution, negotiation skills, adaptability, flexibility, grit, and resilience will also be equally important. The question is: Are we as teachers and educators aware of this new standard and are we preparing our students according to these requirements?
World Forums are working dedicatedly on multiple projects and one of these is finding out what top skills will be required in the next 5 years and these skills are then made available on the World-Economic Forum website
It is astonishing to know that according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report,50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025 because of the adoption rate of the technology. We have just experienced that in this pandemic, almost all schools got no option except to adopt online teaching, and the majority of the teachers had to learn Google Classroom, Google Meet, Stream yard, Zoom, and other such digital platforms. We have also seen many IT professionals who launched courses on Google as to how to use these platforms. Facebook was filled with such courses that enabled educators to learn how to use these digital platforms. Do we have the option to avoid this new change? A big no. Of course.
Top skills for 2025 include
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning and learning strategies
- Complex problem-solving
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Creativity, originality, and initiative
- Leadership and influence
- Technology use, monitoring, and control
- Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility
- Reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation
- Technology, design, and programming
Against the aforementioned skillset and mindset, it is an acid test for us to self-evaluate how aligned we, as teachers, teacher-educators, and school management, we are and what steps we are taking to hone the skills of our students to meet these challenges.
Institutions have a responsibility to nurture their students for functioning in 21st Century Skills. Our focus is mostly on content knowledge which is only a part of the equation. Learning and innovation are equally very significant skills and till the time we are not prepared to learn, the knowledge being downloaded through multiple sources will not bring any change in our skills and behavior.
In 21st century learning and life skills, 4Cs are being talked about and if we see these 4Cs, we will discover that these skills lead towards attainment of goals which fourth industrial revolution aims at. These 4Cs are:
- Collaboration (soft skills)
- Critical Thinking (deductive reasoning and analysis)
Here, we would like to add that information media and technology skills keep students up to date with the rapid changes in technology. At the same time, it is also important for us to warn the students about the dark side of technology; screen time which is affecting mental health, eyesight, focus, and sleep cycle. It means that role of the teacher as counselor, adviser, and mentor is more important than content sharing.
By teaching and giving practical exposure through life situations, role plays, simulation, drama enacting, etc., the teachers can effectively work on the personality grooming of their students like being flexible, adaptable, and resilient can make you succeed even in the darkest hours. Likewise, skills or habits, proactivity, win/win situations, sharpening the saw, creating synergy, beginning with the end in mind in addition to being emotionally intelligent can transform their lives and produce optimism in them.
Giving students situations like real-life learning can be engaging and highly productive. Giving them experiences of cooperative learning where they learn collaboration, communication, interpersonal interaction, and countering their negative self-talk can be game-changers in their lives. For this, we need to go an extra mile to sift the relevant content and we may need to adopt research-based teaching techniques where we challenge the basic assumption of students about life and how do they see life, in its entirety.