Developing Educational Framework to Impart Next Gen Digital Skills

This column is authored by Prof VS Rao, President, NIIT University

Digital Skills

As digital transformation takes the front seat, enterprises are gearing up to brace the change. In a recent survey conducted by CA Technologies and Coleman Parkes, India has notched up the highest score for business impact in ‘Keeping Score — Why Digital Transformation Matters’. In the same survey, 83% companies admitted having embraced digital tech to redefine business. However, enterprises are not the only ones that need to brace changes to stay relevant in the digital world. There will be an equivalent shift in the education system, in what students learn and how they learn it.

As a part of the digitization process, a dozen technologies could have a combined economic impact of $550 billion to $1 trillion by 2025. However, to realize the full potential of these technologies, we’ll need to address one of the biggest barriers in digital adoption – lack of educational framework to impart next gen digital skills. The mismatch between the supply of and demand for digital skills has been widely acknowledged.

Globally, Cisco has identified 1 million unfilled digital security roles. The failure of education systems to meet the demand for digital skills is illustrated by the shortfall in graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in certain countries. Closer home, the case is no different. According to a report presented by McKinsey and Company at the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum earlier this year, nearly half of the workforce in the IT services firms will be “irrelevant” over the next 3-4 years. 50-60% of the current workforce needs to be retrained to realize complete potential of the technology shift. However, this isn’t enough.

While enterprises focus on empowering their employees with digital skills, the educational institutions in the country need to redesign their curriculum to be digital inclusive. According to a recent release by NASSCOM, the future jobs will require people to be trained in skills including Data Analytics, Cloud & Cybersecurity Services, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and many other Digital Technologies. A huge demand is foreseen for roles such as mobile app development, social media, data scientists, and platform engineering. To meet this demand, colleges and universities in India need to introduce skill-based, and digital-focused, courses in the academia to make students industry-ready, job-ready. In fact, some forerunners in education have already understood this need, and have updated their learning modules.

We at NIIT University (NU) have introduced B.Tech Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) program with emphasis on Digital Transformation technologies, to rise-up to the urgent need faced by the IT industry for Next Gen digitally skilled engineers. The course will be embedded with Full Stack Programming, Big Data, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IOT) curriculum to make it more industry relevant.

This, and several similar initiatives, come in the wake of the potential of technologies to replace human effort in the years to come if students are not trained otherwise. India is already a home to digitally ready talent pool of 500,000 engineers, this demand is expected to increase to over a million engineers trained in digital transformation technologies by 2020.

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