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The impact of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will most likely be felt not earlier than two or three decades from now. That would be the middle of the 21st century. What would Indian industry look like by then? What would be the industry’s requirements of skills and knowledge?

The honest answer would be, no one knows for sure. Only thing that is predictable is that the amplitude of change in the nature and character of industry will be extremely high, as new and rapid waves of technology and science erase the sand prints of the earlier waves. This will demand, in every commercial organization, a healthy stock of workers who have the eagerness to reskill, relearn and renew themselves continually.

NEP 2020, therefore, rightly recognizes the need for flexibility and learning to learn, as desirable outcomes of the educational system. Critical thinking, rather than rote learning, will guide the design of the curriculum. The challenge, however, will be to train faculty to be able to understand and deliver the new educational model.

The second requirement of the industry will be to have a workforce that is not only familiar with the use of digital technologies, but also to be able to design and deploy it. NEP 2020 promises to integrate digital technologies in the curriculum from the foundation level, creating a new generation of digitally diligent manpower.

The challenge will be to guard against obsolescence in the curriculum through continuous updates.

The 20th century organogram of functional heads reporting to the CEO in a tree-like structure is already proving to be anachronistic and inadequate in a rapidly changing market and technology landscape. Instead, a looser, beehive-like structure that operates like a neural network is seen as the only way to create an agile organization. This would necessarily mean that the organization should have executives who not only specialize in a function, but also have a good understanding of the interwoven nature of the problems and potential solutions involving various functions and knowledge sources.

NEP 2020 shifts the focus from just functional excellence to a more holistic liberal education, with fluid borders between arts and sciences. Even the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses are meant to include an appreciation of humanities and arts. This is the right way to prepare people for a network or matrix setup that would be the shape of future organizations.

R. Seshasayee is chairman, executive committee, Krea University

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