By Minal Anand, CEO and Founder GuruQ
The social circle has been debating on the developmental imperatives laid in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Though a very welcome change for our country that needed a complete recalibration of its system of education that primarily focused on heavy content and rote learning, the policy is yet to be put in practice.
Nevertheless, one cannot deny that the policymakers have rightly identified the need to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of the 21st century and have highlighted several underrated areas that promise to create new employment opportunities.
New opportunities in agriculture
The NEP 2020 has shed light to improve and encourage the state of agricultural education in India. As per the policy document, agricultural universities comprise approximately 9% of all universities in the country, and enrolment in agriculture and allied sciences is less than 1% of all enrolment in higher education. The policy aims to improve both the capacity and quality of agriculture and allied disciplines to increase agricultural productivity through better-skilled graduates and technicians, innovative research, and market-based extension linked to technologies and practices.
The design of agricultural education will shift towards developing professionals with the ability to understand and use local knowledge, traditional knowledge, and emerging technologies while being cognizant of critical issues such as declining land productivity, climate change, food sufficiency for our growing population, etc. It is high time to incorporate technology and the internet into the folds of agriculture to open up new opportunities. This can be relegated to a secondary position any more as rapid urbanization and changing diets are calling for new ways to process, market, and consume our foods.
The potential benefits of using technology in increasing agricultural labour productivity will help improve agronomic practices by facilitating extension, and will increase farmers’ access to old and new markets, can leverage their bargaining position, and enable them to get a better price for their produce. This will help rural youth by giving them fresh hope of generating income from the farm. Technology will also enhance the processing storage, logistics, and other supply chain issues, allowing employment opportunities to emerge off the farm. The only challenge that lies here is to make these jobs look sufficiently attractive to young and experienced farmers through consistent innovation and public investment.
Technical skills will enhance the market
According to a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, there are around 121 million unemployed Indians who are currently out of work. Some of the key factors behind this number are the lack of key skills and education among job seekers.
The NEP 2020’s renewed stress on technical education by equipping professionals in cutting-edge areas that are fast gaining prominences, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3-D machining, big data analysis, and machine learning, in addition to genomic studies, biotechnology, nanotechnology, neuroscience, with important applications to health, environment, and sustainable living into undergraduate education is expected to enhance the employability of the youth and also create an ecosystem of entrepreneurs who can provide services to needs of digital India and beyond.
An increased thrust to reviving heritage will push jobs for arts graduates
A third important aspect in our country has been the lack of employing suitable candidates for the conservation of our heritage and culture. There are already hundreds of Academies, museums, art galleries, and heritage sites in dire need of qualified individuals for their effective functioning. The opening of jobs in these sectors will increase students’ passion to pursue liberal arts and culture in higher education.
One of the prime reasons for youth to retrace their steps from taking up their subjects of passion in humanities is the relatively lower chances of getting decent employment. The NEP 2020 recognizes that the knowledge of the rich diversity of India should be imbibed first hand by learners. Towards this direction under ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’, 100 tourist destinations in the country will be identified where educational institutions will send students to study these destinations and their history, scientific contributions, traditions, indigenous literature, and knowledge as a part of augmenting their knowledge about these areas.
Creating such programs and degrees in higher education, across the arts, languages, and humanities, will also come with expanded high-quality opportunities for employment that can make effective use of these qualifications.
Translation and Interpretation will create a new genre for job seekers
One of the revolutionary steps that the NEP 2020 mentions is the urgent expansion of the country’s translation and interpretation efforts to make high-quality learning materials and other important written and spoken material available to the public in various Indian and foreign languages.
For this, an Indian Institute of Translation and Interpretation (IITI) will be established. Such an institute would provide a truly important service for the country, as well as employ numerous multilingual language and subject experts, and experts in translation and interpretation, which will help to promote all Indian languages. The IITI shall also make extensive use of technology to aid in its translation and interpretation efforts.
With the quickly changing employment landscape, the NEP 2020 documents not just the need to learn but also the methods used for gaining overall knowledge. The policy follows an evolved understanding of education that focuses less on content and more on experiential learning.
To ensure that young learners must be the right fit for the job market, the policy aims to put forth major reforms to bridge the gap between the current state of learning and what is required for the coming age. The policy aims to have an education system by 2040 that is second to none, with equitable access to the highest-quality education for all learners regardless of social or economic background.