Skill Development in the 21st Century

Skill Development in the 21st Century
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Jammu and Kashmir has qualified for World Skills India National Competition with at least five of its competitors in mobile robotics, mechanical CAD, graphic designing, patisserie & confectionary trades winning accolades and critical acclaim at the 3-day regional competition held in Lucknow (UP). While this is a welcome development and would go far in boosting the morale of those who made it, but the fact is that it is only a newsy, feel good thing. The reasons are multiple and multifarious. Primarily, these pertain to the fact that skill development in the 21st century is a humungous challenge for governments, societies and people. The challenge is of a nature that requires a holistic, far reaching, comprehensive approach with technology central to it. We are fast approaching a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics, might even come to rule the roost in terms of supplanting much of work that humans do or used to do. If this actually comes to pass, then obviously a whole class and shaft of work will be rendered redundant with humans having to do something else. Moreover, the force of disruptive technology on societies and lives of people is also having a humungous impact on the very nature of work, learning, skills and skill development. The 21st century might as well be defined by what has been termed as “lifelong learning”. That is, continuous reskilling and acquisition of skills, throughout the life span of an individual or individuals. This will, gradually but inexorably become the prosaic but dominant reality of our lives, with the progression of time. But, alas, powers that be, neither appear to understand the coming Tsunami nor do they realize the gravity of the situation. Hence, their focus is on publicity seeking endeavors which have some news value but appear to be more in the nature of generating PR for the departments concerned and the people manning these. If people who matter in the domain of skill development really care, then they must roll up their sleeves, both literally and metaphorically and do what is required to make Jammu and Kashmir and its young people relevant on the map of skill development. As a matter of fact, given demographics and the economy of the state, young Kashmiris need skill development the most but it is the administration and its lackeys that are found wanting. Given the enormity of the issue, it is incumbent upon the administration to take skill development seriously, shun cosmetic measures and PR exercises and do all it can to make Jammu and Kashmir a skill abundant region.

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