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Adapting to the 21st century skills


Soon after the first and the second industrial revolutions that emerged during the 18th and 19th century respectively, the world businesses began to turn themselves into enterprises. They began catering to the needs of the consumers. This was the time when the corporate sector was given a new shape. Such companies provided goods and services to the population based on their psychographics and behavioral aspects. To run a business, a company requires a human resource.
From the gatekeeper to clerks, from drivers to typists, from office boys to chief executives. Companies needed such a resource and in bulk quantities. They needed people who could adjust in the corporate cycle and know how to perform activities related to accounting, finance, marketing, sales, advertising, managing human resources among others. It also required employees to plan, organize, coordinate, execute, and implement plans about their departments and domains.
In 1908, the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration was the first to establish an MBA program. It comprised 15 faculty members and 33 regular students. Its first-year curriculum was based on Frederick Winslow Taylor’s scientific management. This paved way for graduate schools across the world to produce MBA graduates who facilitated the daily operations of businesses and corporations. The companies needed human resource, the graduate schools – or the academia as we call them – were producing it for them.
During the 1940s to 2000s, students were required and more often compelled to rote learn the concepts and theories they studied at school, college, and university. This was done for a reason. There was scarce and to-the-point information about the subjects, the jobs were few and every job was more or less standardized. Furthermore, the educational standards were also not developed during the 1960s and 1970s. Anyone with a degree in bachelor in science or a bachelor in commerce was considered good enough to get a job. Since the job market was not saturated, anyone with a good grade in bachelors would be hired.
However, technology brought another revolution in our lives. Where it produced gadgets and equipment to help us complete work effectively and efficiently, it also began giving us information about life and career. Google, for instance, opened a gateway to knowledge that was previously available only in books for which one had to visit the library. Newspapers and magazines too were not bought by everyone and television channels too telecasted controlled content. The advent of the Internet, however, changed how an average human viewed the world.
As companies began hiring people for jobs that did not exist before, business schools began to offer degree programs that were non-existent before. Universities also expanded their domains and the degree programs they offered produced graduates that were required by the companies. These companies were being referred to as the corporate sector and with it the game plan changed.
Today, as we are about the enter into 2021 in three months, our universities and business schools are offering degree programs that are rendering programs from 2010 obsolete. Data science, data mining, AI are some of the few programs offered to students. Moreover, the concept of rote learning is also now almost obsolete. Gone are the days when the information was available at key points – such as in course books, with faculty members, or in the library. This information along with its pros, cons, varying aspects, industry applications is easily and readily available on the Internet in the form of documents, documentaries, text, and interviews. Students, therefore, know more about the topics they study at the university even before they take admission. The roles are reversed.
During the 1940s to 2000s, students rote learned topics to reproduce them in examinations to get good grades so they can secure a job. These days the students are already doing some form of freelance work even before they complete their graduation. They do not have to rote learn anything because of various factors. First, information is being added and replaced with each passing week. Second, information overload compels people to learn skills and activities instead of learning the process by heart. In the near future, examinations will also become obsolete. Students’ factor for success will be judged how swiftly they learn and unlearn a skill and how they apply it in their life for personal and professional success.