Assorted thoughts on education and jobs.

  1. India talks big on demographic dividends. India’s population is second only to China and in few years we’ll beat them, population wise.
  2. But what is the quality of people India produces. Most of them are fit only for menial labour. There are innumerable reports. Students who pass out of plain colleges or engineering institutes, the statistics say, the “percentage of unemployability” range from 50 to 80 percent.
  3. Abdul Kalam, once India’s Brainy President, was rare first to put his finger on India’s abysmal education policy at topmost level. Few politician have guts to do that. But after all who would call Kalam a politician.
  4. Kalam said, only 25% of graduating students are “employable.” His statement is pretty wide ranging and includes all, plain and engineering graduates. And this was in 2007. Thirteen years plus we would be safe to agree that number is less than 25.
  5. Despite the new education policy by the present government, one would be safe to think that new education of the oncoming world is not in government’s hands. Students have to be born and brought up with attitude and mental skill sets for DIY – Do it yourself.
  6. Here is a thing. Schools and Colleges will not suffice to scale the capability standards required. Schools and Colleges are “Fixed Learning”. A syllabus of a Three Year degree course are set a couple of years in advance. By the time the kid’s start a three year degree or engineering, it’s already outdated. The Knowledge thus acquired is not worth a spam.
  7. The solution for future education has already arrived. It’s called MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses.
  8. But “Open” and “Online” does not imply that it’s “Easy.” Self learning is not easy. The discipline required to complete one module of a course is enormous. Many will fail to complete. I have.
  9. But, what will win? Obsessiveness.
  10. Like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. For example, one is learning to “Set up a Tab on a Web Page.” Pretty Simple. But no, it’s not. The effort might take you on a tailspin for hours. And in the end you will discover that “It’s one Comma”, that spent your day. And, believe me, after you spent those hours, you will feel exhilarated.
  11. If the effort does not excite or exhilarate you, the work is not for you. Don’t waste your time carrying on. Because it’s not only once you’re going to face the problem but everyday. You have to love the obsession that the work brings in order to carry on with it.
  12. If there’s no obsession there won’t be any expertise.
  13. Most of online studies are online/offline mixed. There will be some Ten to Fifteen minutes of videos and the thereafter there will be links or a reading list. Download the PDF to study and then the PDF contains words and phrases so one goes online again to search and know. And everything has to be done all alone and by yourself.
  14. Contrary to many peoples beliefs, the technology world will not reduce the workforce, but it will raise the capability bar of white-collar jobs. And vastly increase low paying menial jobs.
  15. Ironically, India is well prepared for this scenario. Our faulty education policy has brought us to this sorry state.
  16. Twenty years back a basic knowledge of computers and a college degree would have sufficed to get a well paying desk job. Now and the henceforth, one needs to know more than just computers.
  17. Same goes with online work. There is no eight hours, ten hours, morning, afternoon shifts. Once started there may be no end. Same with online studies.
  18. People who don’t meet the “capability” standards will still get jobs in technology companies but as “Delivery Agents.” Most of the Online companies, like Food, Grocery and stuff, all call themselves “Tech-Companies.” You have folks from good families riding scooties delivering Zomato, Amazon, Flipkart etc.. These jobs will never be high paying. So young people who are entering the workforce will remain with their parents because they cannot afford loans for houses, at least not in metros or even tier 2 or 3 towns.
  19. Urban kids are falling out of the workforce or stuck with terrible low paying jobs and, on the other side, semi-urban and village kids are joining the workforce. The village kids may have degrees and even a software training, but their social context will not deter them from going house to house with shoulder bags of delivery.
  20. So, there will be competition for “menial” jobs at the entry level itself. Village kids will work for less and urban kids can’t make ends meet on a “Zomato” salary.
  21. These all, mixed with India’s internal migration between states, a toxic mix of fratricide may be brewing which will raise its head in times to come.

Tech knowledges acquired in today’s world is valid for six months, at most a year. If knowledge is valid more than that, it’s either outdated, wrong or the work is menial.