It is not really possible to increase productivity and sustainability of enterprises and improve work conditions and employability without proper skills development. In this day and age, we cannot leave the scope of nurturing the true qualities of an individual based on their college education alone. It is a process that needs to be tackled right from the school days. In order to secure a good job, young men and women need a lot more than technical skills. The core skills of communication, learning to learn, problem solving and teamwork probably has more impact. Development of core skills, awareness of workers’ rights and an understanding of entrepreneurship are the building blocks for lifelong learning and capability to adapt to change. The critical importance of acquiring 21st century life skills was highlighted in a 2016 study by the World Economic Forum (WEF) & Boston Consulting Group (BCG)— 65% of today’s schoolchildren will have to take up the kind of jobs that are non-existent today. Simply put, a child entering the K-12 education system in 2019, will be graduating in the year 2031—the world will be a completely different place; jobs will be different and the required skill-sets for these jobs will also be different.
The ILO (International Labour Office) defines employability skills as:
“…the skills, knowledge and competencies that enhance a worker’s ability to secure and retain a job, progress at work and cope with change, secure another job if he/she so wishes or has been laid off and enter more easily into the labour market at different periods of the life cycle. Individuals are most employable when they have broad-based education and training, basic and portable highlevel skills, including teamwork, problem solving, information and communications technology (ICT) and communication and language skills. This combination of skills enables them to adapt to changes in the world of work.”
Without a proper idea of the world and how to relate with it, we cannot expect any individual to cope with the harsh realities of society. We need to, therefore, train our kids in such things from ground zero itself i.e. school. The mind of a child is like an empty canvass. S/he grows up to be exactly the way we want them to be. This is where proper training in life skills effectively comes into play. These young minds must be made acquainted with the purpose one must have in life and work towards its fulfilment. A small gesture to true humanitarianism can actually bring about a great change in society and the mind-set of its members. It is possible only if we inculcate such values in them from school level.
Life skills also seem to have a positive effect on the adolescents of both urban and rural India and also on the economically backward sections of the society.
According to the International Journal of Advanced Research (2015), a positive and net effect is observed in the study on impact of life skills-based training in the attitude of adolescent girls. Similarly, life skills-based approach, namely ‘Better Life Options Programme’ (BLO), for adolescent girls in India, implemented by the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CED-PA) especially in urban slums of Delhi and rural Madhya Pradesh/Gujarat has had vocational and training support along with skills training. Higher rate of education completion (66%) is observed among them as compared to the control group.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), life skills are “the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with demands and challenges of everyday life”. At Satluj, as an example, we aim towards the holistic development of a child with the help of several innovative activities like, ‘Beyond the Classroom Lesson’ (BTCL), ‘Cross Domain Knowledge Sharing’ (CDKS), ‘Applied Learning’ (AL) and ‘Subject Awareness Drive’ (SAD). The Innovation Lab has also proved to be an amazing way to ensure complete understanding of a concept. These methods have brought about an amazing improvement in the students as well. Prabal Gupta (name changed) used to be very laid back and disinterested in his work. We realised that he had a lot of potential and untapped knowledge from his inputs during the above-mentioned activities. Proper counselling of the child and allowing him to work on things of his interest brought about a drastic change in him and transformed him academically, with his grade improving from a C to an A. Eventually, since education isn’t only about academics, we also witnessed an overwhelming spike in his curiosity for learning.
Moral education and life skills can therefore be the building block of a child’s metamorphosis to an adult, thus leading to her/his bright future. According to research by India Today, apart from the core subject expertise, employers look for certain prominent skills like: communication skills (verbal and written), attitude towards work, lifelong learning, self-management, teamwork, problem solving, initiative, self-motivation, adaptability, stress management, creativity, interpersonal sensitivity. These prominent skills are very important life skills that we should be teaching our children and, in the process, create suitable candidates for the cut-throat job market. Apart from these concepts, lessons on proper behavioural skills also are key in the future success of a child. Kindness, thoughtfulness, humility, being self-reliant, honesty and integrity as a result plays a vital role in creating a child’s successful employable future. Without these qualities one can never be true to her/his work and make a positive impact in the world.
UNICEF, whose mission includes the goal of expanding children’s opportunities so that every child can reach his or her fullest potential too has been very enthusiastic on this issue. They are of the view that life skill education—so whether formal or informal— is not something that can be attained automatically. It is greatly influenced by the environment that one lives, learns and acts in.
Being a role model or helping children find a role model from various inspirational stories is also an amazing way to make children realise their own potential and self-worth. The stories of next-gen entrepreneurs seem to inspire many children into realising their own dreams and capabilities. It is like, “If they can do it, why not us?”
New-age entrepreneurs like Ritesh Agarwal, the Founder of OYO Rooms (India’s largest hospitality company) and Kylie Jenner, the make-up guru and the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, have proved to be an immense success at such a young age only because of their own confidence and intent of proving themselves.
It enlightens a fire within them, that culminates into an attempt towards a successful future.
It is rightly said in the Bhagwad Gita, “Do your duty, your work without thinking about the results.” The important thing is to teach our children to be good human beings first—to be honest, kind, humble, self-reliant and confident. These are the building blocks of a strong personality and that is exactly what is necessary if one needs to land their dream job. Only the hunger of knowledge is always not enough but how we are as a team member makes or breaks a deal. As an adult, one can easily grasp the knowledge or any technical skillset quite easily. What s/he cannot do is suddenly change their personality, methodology and character. On the other hand, if all these qualities are imparted at an impressionable age, then perhaps, children will have a better hand at their future endeavours and work towards bringing about a positive change in the country, and, eventually, the world.
-With inputs from Sayoni Bhattacharjee, Manisha Sahni & The Satluj Innovation Department
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