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Revolutionising Skill Development For Future Work Trends

“Instead of adhering to a traditional four-year programme, envision a model where individuals engage in 500 to 1,000 hours of continuous training every two to three years to adapt and evolve,” says Ajay Kela, President & CEO, Wadhwani Foundation

In a rapidly evolving job market, organisations like the Wadhwani Foundation play a pivotal role in empowering individuals and catalysing economic growth. Ajay Kela, President & CEO of the Wadhwani Foundation sheds light on the foundation’s mission, initiatives and strategies for addressing the dynamic challenges of skill development and job creation. He shares valuable insights into the future of work and the pathways to success for aspiring job seekers and young talent in India.

Could you elaborate on the organisation’s mission and its impact on empowering individuals?

Our mission at the Wadhwani Foundation is to empower families worldwide by ensuring they have access to jobs that provide a sustainable income. We believe that by enabling individuals within a family to earn beyond the basic necessities, we can catalyse positive transformations not only for the individual and their immediate family but for generations to come. Our focus lies squarely within the job sector, specifically targeting roles that can support a family of four. Our mission over the next five years is to be able to create 3 to 5 million high value family wage jobs and enhance employability of 10 million vulnerable people.

Could you share a notable success story or initiative undertaken by the Wadhwani Foundation?

One of our flagship programmes, Ignite, aims to nurture entrepreneurship by engaging with budding student entrepreneurs in top educational institutions. By encouraging the brightest minds to tackle real-world problems, we foster innovation and job creation. Additionally, through initiatives like Liftoff, we provide personalised support to startups, aiming to enhance their survival rates and facilitate growth. We’re proud to say that we have in the last five years inspired and educated 1,50,000+ students and enabled 5,000+ startups & SMBs globally, contributing to a culture of entrepreneurship and economic empowerment.

The evolving landscape of job requirements necessitates a focus on continuous skill development. How does the Wadhwani Foundation address this challenge?

Indeed, the demand for skills is ever-changing, rendering traditional academic qualifications insufficient. Recognising this, we’ve developed a range of in-demand, evergreen employability skills that prioritise attributes like teamwork, critical thinking and market awareness. Through collaboration with industry partners and extensive research, we’ve tailored our curriculum to meet the evolving needs of employers. Our success is evident in the fact that over a million students are enrolled in our programmes this year, facilitated by partnerships with academic institutions, skilling organisations and employers.

Today’s technology, particularly generative AI has a transformative impact on education. Could you elaborate on how such advancements influence future work trends?

Emerging technologies like generative AI hold immense potential to revolutionise education by providing personalised, on-demand learning experiences. By integrating such innovations into our edtech platform, we empower students to overcome language barriers and access expert guidance round the clock. Moreover, these technologies augment traditional learning methods, ensuring that individuals can adapt to the demands of the digital era. 

In India, we encounter an interesting scenario. English proficiency is often seen as a prerequisite for corporate success, given the higher salaries and compensation packages associated with English-speaking roles. However, many students face challenges in mastering English, which can hinder their professional growth. To address this issue, we have devised a unique approach within our curriculum. For instance, if a student encounters difficulty while learning English, they have the flexibility to seek clarification in their native language, such as Hindi or Kannada. This ensures that learners can progress effectively without feeling restricted by language barriers, ultimately fostering a conducive environment for mastering English while simultaneously embracing their linguistic diversity. This is enabled by My Tutor or GenAI powered co-pilot that is an integral part of our learning platform. In fact, we have a similar GenAI powered co-pilot for teachers that enables them to plan their lessons better. To top it all up, learners looking for a job have access to My Interview Coach, another co-pilot that helps them practice and prepare for a job interview.

Collaboration between industry, academia & government is crucial for effective skilling and job creation. What strategies does the Wadhwani Foundation employ to foster such collaborations?

Collaboration lies at the heart of our approach. We engage closely with industry stakeholders to design relevant curricula and facilitate hands-on learning experiences. Additionally, we advocate for a seamless transition from education to employment through apprenticeship models and industry-academic partnerships. By incentivising continuous learning within the workforce, we strive to create a culture of lifelong skilling and career development.

Instead of adhering to a traditional four-year programme, envision a model where individuals engage in 500 to 1000 hours of continuous training every two to three years to adapt and evolve. This approach recognises the rapid pace of change in today’s professional landscape. The curriculum should be dynamic, leveraging technology to deliver content in innovative ways that facilitate ongoing learning and skill development.

What advice would you offer to aspiring job seekers and young talent in India?

Embrace change and leverage technology to enhance your skills. In today’s digital age, learning is not confined to textbooks but extends to interactive, multimedia platforms. Focus on upskilling yourself and stay abreast of emerging trends to remain competitive in the job market. Remember, change is inevitable, but with the abundance of resources available, adapting to it has never been easier.

Source: BWPeople

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