Coming of Age in the 4th Industrial Age :
The India of the 21st century will be one that is in conformity with our ancient values as well as compliant with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There is no dichotomy there, no question of choice. We must combine tradition and technology, the wisdom of an age-old Bharat and the science of a contemporary India,” said the President Ram Nath Kovind in his very first speech as President.
Almost every other day we realise that we are living in a VUCA world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, and change is happening at an exponential pace.
The success mantras of the earlier decades do not work any more, and we must navigate our way to prosperity and happiness in completely new ways.
In January 2016, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Prof. Klaus Schwab drew attention to the fact that we are now witnessing the arrival of the 4th Industrial revolution which is a fusion of the Physical, Biological and Information world opening up great opportunities and perhaps greater challenges.
Across the world, States, countries and regions are addressing the need to be future ready with or without the explicit mention of Industry 4.0 or the 4th Industrial Age.
Here is a link to my TEDx talk on ‘ Education in the 4th Industrial Age’: https://youtu.be/Ve0roK3wVgI
Some well known initiatives in being future ready are:
1: Future ready Massachusetts: http://futurereadyma.org/
2: Future ready Singapore: https://www.futurereadysingapore.com/index.html
3: UAE has just created a council to supervise the nation’s industrial Renaissance based on advanced technologies :
4: In Vietnam, the Prime Minister is leading an initiative by asking all central agencies and local administrations nationwide to focus efforts on preparing Human Resources and infrastructure development https://www.talkvietnam.com/2017/05/vietnam-lays-out-plans-for-fourth-industrial-revolution/
5: And the newly elected President of South Korea had this as one of his electoral promises : http://m.yna.co.kr/mob2/en/contents_en.jsp?cid=AEN20170508006300320&site=0200000000&mobile
It is therefore desirable that a group of enlightened forward thinking educators takes a pro-active role to create and implement a plan to benefit from the potential of the 4th Industrial Age, by creating a suitably equipped youth to drive our demographic dividend with their knowledge and skills that are driving the new age of big data, Blockchains and Machine Intelligence.
This is a program directed at the young (both boys and girls) who are coming of age (turning 18) in the years to come. We are aiming at the age group of 18+-2, that is from 16 years to 20 years, that can be pursued concurrently while students are in the last years of their secondary education or the initial years of their tertiary programs.
A quarter of India’s 1.25 billion people are younger than 15, and every month, until 2030, nearly a million Indians will turn 18, raring for more education and employment prospects.
This is about the same age group that pursues the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, the A levels and the Senior Secondary stage of the CBSE and other State Boards. Younger persons may not be able to benefit from the program, although students in post-secondary courses (general BA, BSc, BCom or Professional courses such as Engineering, Medicine or Law) would find this program helpful in preparing them for their future. There is really no upper age limit for an enquiring mind with the disposition of a life-long learner.
Following the huge success of MOOCs in the last few years, and our own experience with running a MOOC for more than a thousand learners across more than 20 countries a few years ago, we realised that the future of learning is through mobile first and later wearable devices.
These aspiring young minds need shaping and development to flourish thrive and prosper in the emerging knowledge and innovation economy for which the UGC-AICTE combination is woefully inadequate. Recent newspaper reports suggest that on the average IITs have on the average 40% shortage in their sanctioned faculty strengths. The other Engineering Institutions don’t count, as almost one third of them have been able to get AICTE approval with forged documents, and upto 95% engineering graduates have no coding skills. In an age when in many countries all school children are bring given exposure to coding and Computational Thinking, the learners and their parents have to take charge of their non-traumatic migration to the 4th Industrial Age.
The big question is ‘what does it mean to come of employable age’ in a decade of disruptive technologies and the Gig economy. The workplace is changing rapidly and consequently the future employer will have to demonstrate a transformation from being a ‘knowledge’ worker to a ‘ learning worker’.
The IITs were created in the 1960s and provided access to great experimental facilities and enabling access to computers were able to produce graduates who could benefit from the 3rd Industrial Age of the 1970s.
India benefitted from the establishment of the IITs in the 1960s (the first set of B.Tech graduates from IIT Kanpur came out in 1965) and its products were ready to benefit from the 3rd Industrial revolution. IIT Kanpur in turn benefitted from the KIAP program supported by a consortium of nine US universities (namely M.I.T, University of California, Berkeley, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Carnegie Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Case Institute of Technology and Purdue University) that helped set up IIT Kanpur’s research laboratories and academic programmes.
Likewise the IIT in Delhi benefitted from UK collaboration, the IIT in Madras from German and the IIT in Bombay was supported by the USSR.
There is a tragic mismatch between our 2nd Industrial Age system of formal education and the dire needs and pressing problems our students face. As we enter the 4th Industrial Age, we are moving rapidly from an information scarce society to an information abundant society where the individual is overloaded with too much information.
There is no Institution that is by design responding to the need for preparation of the youth for the 4th Industrial Age. We have therefore created one possible pathway which can be pursued by any learner concurrently with any traditional post secondary education programme: General Science, Liberal Arts, Engineering, Architecture, Medical, Law or a Professional like Chartered Accountant or Company Secretary.
To provide a convenient model of pursuing these without any conflict with the other programs being pursued by a learner, these programs are offered through Mobile Smart phones, and using WhatsApp as the communication tool.
Coming of Age in the 4th Industrial Age : Designer for years 18 to 21 but open to all lifelong learners
If this program is pursued sequentially, and without a break, the program can be completed in 3 months. The weekly focus would be :
Twelve weeks of planned activities :
Week 1: Become a Lifelong Learner
Week 2: Learning from Mobile Apps and MOOCs
Week 3: Emerging Technologies : Big Data
Week 4: Emerging Technologies : Blockchain
Week 5: Emerging Technologies : Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
Week 6: Emerging Technologies : Quantum Computing
Week 7: Complex Problem Solving: Critical Reasoning
Week 8: Complex Problem Solving: Creative Intelligence
Week 9: Complex Problem Solving: Computational Thinking
Week 10: Financial Acumen
Week 11: The future of work
Week 12: Being human ( in a world of Intelligent machines)