Venturers in to Morrow
Marks, assessments, and grades continue to be dominant discussions in the corridors of our educational institutions. A professional degree or a liberal arts degree, a government or private sector job is still the ambition of an average student influenced greatly by parents and teachers.
Isolated efforts to develop skills, competencies, innovations, leadership, and initiative are seen across the country sometimes even in remote rural areas. Yes, the drivers of economic growth are a private investment and job creation. The economy will not progress if we keep on adding job seekers especially in an era marked by frequent technology disruptions and changing market dynamics. And schools and colleges need to devise ways to promote Entrepreneurship skills in students.
For a Holistic, Participative Entrepreneurship
What are the steps taken by educational institutions to establish a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurship development? Whether the present policies are conducive to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and the challenges towards the achievement of that goal?
Will the educational stakeholders, government, and society at large come together for a positive change to enabling an innovative and creative mindset to continually reinvent themselves and adapt quickly in the context of constant changes in the technological and social milieu?
All this is easier said than done. The devil is in the details. How do we go about inculcating an innovative, ‘solution-oriented’ mindset, able to support one gainfully, in an ever rapidly changing world?
Unlike the mostly gradual changes we have seen in the past, a future rife with 5G enabled remotely powered sensors, imbedded in almost everything and everywhere including wearable and possibly implanted devices, accessed, monitored and controlled, accounted via the Blockchain, 3D printed and delivered by drones, is what awaits the future generations. This is going to eliminate hundreds of millions of current jobs and further worsened by cataclysmic weather patterns, pestilences, and pandemics.
What we are headed for, is a global economy reliant more on independent contract labour than on regularized, regimented jobs in companies, who now increasingly delegate non-core activities. This situation clearly needs an individually adaptive mindset which can spot new patterns and trends and react rapidly to make gainful use of emerging opportunities, as Uber did to transportation, Airbnb did to hospitality, Amazon did to retail, Google did to advertising and MOOCs is doing to conventional education. With humungous amounts of data collected instantly in real-time from all angles, aided by increasing bandwidth at near-zero cost and unlimited storage, many new such services which we cannot imagine will emerge, like the self-supporting Uber driver, Airbnb host, Social Media Influencer, User Experience Interface Analyst, Drone operator, AI Architect, Machine Learning Specialist etc, of recent origin.
One sure way of inculcating agility of mind in the young is by having problem-solving hackathons from junior school level. It has to be not just business or technology-related challenges, but also social and environmental related issues like pollution and disease prevention, poverty alleviation at the local and broader levels. This is the only way that the young can be sensitized to social problems which are innately related to economic issues causing inequality, unemployment etc.
Otherwise, we will definitely end up creating not just the unemployed, but also the unemployable ‘Useless Class’ that historian Yuval Noah Harari talks about, a set which we definitely cannot afford to create.
The stress on socio-environmental issues would also generate a sensitivity towards wholesome, inclusive development, one which not only focuses on the dated concept of constant growth in GDP to a more holistic growth in overall happiness, the Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) quotient, which is lacking in our economic systems, be it capitalism or socialism. We have no choice, but to sensitize the young about social and environmental issues also if we hope to be able to reverse the cataclysmic changes in the environment brought about by thoughtless, ‘economic development at all costs’ approach.
Tackling Social Issues
There have to be compulsory internships in environmental development institutions for the youth, which have to be given equal importance along with apprenticeships in businesses. There should be a ‘Tackle a Social Issue a Month’ sessions, where they travel to the concerned locations, stay there, talk to the stakeholders and the affected,
before brainstorming for solutions and presenting the findings. This should be done before they venture into the economic sphere, which should mandatorily require local businesses to partner with neighboring schools and colleges for in-depth studies into the conceptualization, production, accounting, distribution, marketing, and selling processes so that they grasp the overall scenario. It should be actual participation in all these spheres of business activities and in CSR activities of companies. They can act as customers or vendors seeking new ways to maximize the sale of the company’s products and services on offer. This would give them really valuable insights that they can use in their entrepreneurial ventures in the future. This would actually reduce hiring and training costs in the long run for companies and organizations.
A stint in an NGO dealing with their societal interests should also be incorporated into the curriculum where they can brainstorm with the concerned organizations on the matters that they are grappling with. This will give them valuable insights enabling them to arrive at possible entrepreneurial ventures in sectors like waste management, pollution control, etc. This would create a sense of participation in the greater society among the youth and will lead to reduced use of social media that we see these days. For the lack of fruitful socio-economic engagement, you see multitudes glued to their smartphones, consuming endless games and movies wasting required vital human contribution for the greater good. Open discussions on important matters facing the world at appropriate fora, coupled with on the ground, hands-on training in business processes, would definitely lead to the emergence of responsible, sustainable, equitable, and profitable businesses among the youth enabling 'Gross Domestic Happiness’. The fact that mandatory vocational training from level Class VI onwards is being introduced in the New Education Policy is implemented, is a step in the right direction. However, just leaving it to vocational training is not enough. In addition, when we get the young involved in seeing the big picture to solve the big problems, they will definitely see emerging opportunities, synergizing people, planet, and profits. At this juncture, we need a holistic, participative entrepreneurial approach, as we cannot afford to leave festering problems as it is, hoping in the fallacy that only economic entrepreneurship of the elite few will put things in place.