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BW Businessworld

The T-Shaped Opportunities In Education

Artificial Intelligence will replace some of the workforce, but we do not know what new jobs humans will be required to do

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My daughter wants to join a design course,” a nervous voice says on the phone.

Parents who are hesitant about anything apart from traditional courses ask this often. Looking back, my parents weren’t hesitant. Design had an uncertain future then, now it has too many choices. The area I graduated in is unrecognisable now. As a venture advisor (Product Experience) in a VC firm, once used to heading the UX division for Adobe India and then, briefly, for Flipkart, I can say that a decade ago, these titles, specialisations and many of these companies were non-existent and unimaginable.

My classmate in Manchester had a first degree in Physics from Cambridge. His Chinese parents would let him pursue his passion only after they’ve had their say in the first degree. We went to Strategic Management and International Marketing classes with engineers and business majors as classmates.

Other quieter technological storms are sweeping away the world as we know it — in its wake, these storms leave new landscapes, new jobs, roles and titles. And with these changes, we now see growing demands for skilling and reskilling.

The bottomline: it is hard to imagine the jobs, roles, vocations and titles of tomorrow. Artificial Intelligence will replace some of the workforce, but we do not know what new jobs humans will be required to do. These and the following are some of the human centric challenges — challenges that specialist startup accelerators like Edugild look to harness and turn into opportunities.

For those who seek to disrupt the systems, practices and methodologies—the key choices to dive deeper presents itself in a T-shaped way:

• Go deep and better (or disrupt) established practices — be it fee payments, admission process, delivery of learning or assessment and standardisation, or
• Go wide, go broad and reach out to those untouched by education. The opportunities are massive, especially with mobile that enables students to learn and practice via multiple media, including recording and playback. Interestingly, startups today are focusing on both dimensions of the T.

From this large macrocosm, two themes stand out. Tech in education is not just a lecture delivered via an online lecture. In early 2000s, with new video conferencing technologies on the rise, the fear was that traditional conferences will gradually diminish in scope and scale. Instead, they flourished, scaled and more than doubled in a decade. It showed that tech was not a replacement for human interaction—it only fuelled the discovery, better management and marketing of face-to-face interactions via conference, meet ups, seminars and workshops.

There are far too many disciplines that have sprung up—from Big Data and Analytics to Machine-Learning and more. Many have not yet found their way to more established university curricula.

So, how do we know what are the emerging subjects, and can tech enable proactive teaching, instead of reactive learning?

“So, join Design?”

The only reassurance I can give is that learning is going to be for a lifetime, it doesn’t stop with a degree or a job. And, if you love what you do, chances are, you will be happy to be a lifelong learner, teacher and mentor.

The author senior partner, SAIF Partners

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Jay Dutta

The author senior partner, SAIF Partners

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