The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
― Alvin Toffler
Corona was just a trigger or the final tipping point. The dye had been casted much ago. Millions of jobless claims in USA in Apr 2020, shutting down of extensive economic activity in Europe, Russia and even in developing countries like India was not only due to Corona crisis but was a manifestation of the change that was sweeping the civilization from early 2k. It was neither the K bug, nor the technological advancements which had shaped the third wave led by silicon, but the communications revolution brought about with the advancements in broadband internet and space technology which combined with rapid technological developments to create a world which was much different in which the generation of 1990s was born in.
The era of standing hours in lines in front of a STD/PCO booths to make calls to your loved ones at discounted rates was already over by the time world realised that the bug of 2k was just a hoax. The world however underestimated the power of internet communications revolutions which almost took everyone by surprise including the governments. The government kept auctioning 2G, 3G, 4G spectrums even without realising that the space had already moved on to different arena. Governments and multinationals kept on investing in auto industry without realising that internet based firms like Ola and Uber had made the possession of an automobile almost burdensome in cities. Technology behemoths kept on building manufacturing infrastructures without realising that the era of 3D printing and robotic manufacturing was already making these units obsolete and financially unviable.
The power of Social media brought about by this internet based communications altered the way in which opinions are made in the world. Gone are the days when the Wall Street Journal or The Times influenced people around the world. Despite complete bias towards Clinton in US presidential elections of 2016, Trump still triumphed her because the social media reached faster and wider than these journals and affected much deeply than these hackneyed papers. Same is the fate of leading newspapers in India which are now fighting for relevance and survival as people rely more on their trusted social media networks than on television news or newspapers.
It has also given wide scope for propaganda, false news and rhetoric. A small comment or negative video made by a simple smartphone gets viral within seconds and may lead to catastrophic consequences for the social fabric of the nation. The dalit agitation of 2019, anti-CAA protests and East Delhi riots of 2020 were fuelled by fake news in social media. Various government legislations and strict police actions have failed to make a major difference to this menace.
Another dimension which present system has forgotten is the rise of millennials and their values. The next generation is completely different than their present counterparts. They have their own set of beliefs, own set of values and their own definitions of morality and happiness. They live uncomplicated lives, are not worried about savings and future and are more focused on present consumption. They like travel, modular jobs, music and non-committal relationships. They don’t own homes and instead prefer Oyo-apartments, they avoid marriage and prefer live-ins and also have no distinction in the gender roles. They have no qualms about admitting their personal or sexual lives and are proud of their shortcomings. The present generation of millennials is already having a deep impact on economy and society. The unsold home inventory of builders is increasing day by day whereas platforms like Oyo have flourished. Consumption needs to this generation is taking priority in the industry and the jobs market is also adjusting like bringing in more flexible hours and work from home concepts.
All the above aspects have brought in paradigm shift in the way we view our education, our jobs, our society, our governments and our world as a whole. The old system of education is useless to meet the skill demands of future job requirements, the current jobs which gave us financial and social security are likely to be obsolete by next decade, the societal values in which you and me were born are no longer going to be the same, the governments have to more proactive, modular and may need to shed bureaucracy if they have to be survive and the world will see the convergence of technology, people and values in unimaginable ways.
This article is a wakeup call for parents who are still relying on present education system to equip their children for jobs of the future. In fact, most of the children who are still focusing on percentages and marks will be disappointed to see that the jobs for which they were aiming for after years of hard work are no longer available. The jobs of future will require a completely different attitude and skill set which the present system of education cannot provide.
This is a wakeup call for industrialists who are still keen on industrial era mergers and acquisitions. The cases of Tatas acquiring Jaguar and Mittal acquiring Arcelor steel are testimony to this fact. Most of these acquisitions put the balance sheets of the companies under stress without giving any major financial payoffs despite causing lots of hurt burns and social unrest. On the other hand, Chinese Giant Alibaba is on the hiring spree of next gen techno-communication firms and have raked in billions of dollars in profits in just a few years. The acquisitions by Facebook of Instagram and Whatsapp all point to this trend.
This is also a wakeup call for governments to ramp up their response networks based on old bureaucratic apparatus or face survival crisis. The investments in education, industry, labour, media and social welfare have to be contemporary to avoid undue wasteful expenditure and social unrest. The governments have to focus on all the areas to meet the demands of future which will be completely different than the present setup.