The Financial Express

Career-centric education and economic growth

| Updated: November 19, 2021 21:56:43

-Representational image -Representational image

Job-centric economic growth and challenges of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) are apparently anachronistic. When experts at a workshop held at the conference room of the Press Information Department (PID) in the capital put emphasis on the former to overcome the latter, the obvious question that arises is, if economic growth will have to correspond to the existing pattern of employment or employment will have to undergo radical transformation to meet the challenges of the 4IR. Even more crucial is the reform of education in order to prepare students for careers in an environment of sophisticated technology, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) on completion of their education. Knowledge of such advanced systems will help them build their careers. It is really shocking to know that the unemployment rate among the country's graduates and postgraduates is the highest among different categories at about 34 per cent. A report published in September last put the unemployment rate among the National University graduates at 66 per cent.

This speaks volumes for the anachronism between the kind of demand for working hands and supply of job-seekers with higher education. The 4IR will be more precise in inducting fresh recruits and developing their skills in specialised areas. Depending on the kind of avenues to be opened, the educational curricula will have to be designed. Against an increased GDP contribution from 27.38 per cent in 2010-11 fiscal year to 34.99 in 2020-21 by the manufacturing sector, the job cut by 1.0 million during the decade shows that automation has already taken its toll and how employment is made redundant as a consequence of introduction of advanced technologies in industrial plants. So, the focus ought to be on education first in order to make the courses up to date and arm fresh graduates with the required theoretical knowledge so that they can whet their skills when in service.

Only a select few are extraordinarily gifted with creative talents but the rest are either above average, average or below average students. There is no point for them to pursue education that is unrewarding and closes the door before them at the prime time of starting a career. A technical hand from a polytechnic institute is more likely to have a greater demand in the employment market than a simple graduate from a university. With the 4IR reigning supreme, technologies and AI will be enjoying a cutting edge over other disciplines.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has already proved to be a game-changer. Digitisation has catapulted the country's communication, information, business, health services and a host of other areas of life from the pedestrian on to the highway of development. True, there are constraints because infrastructure could not be developed commensurate with the growing need. Sure enough, people who have mastered the advanced technologies have reaped the benefits more than the inept users of such technologies and devices. The digital divide is clear enough for all to see. So the primary need is to support career-centric education and this will in turn make job-centric economic growth possible.

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