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Shireen Ardeshir

How Covid-19 has impacted education & career choices of the youth

August 20, 2020

– Shireen Ardeshir, education advisor and career mentor and senior partner at Study Networks.

In the present scenario, the education and career choices of students and youth can be broadly categorised into pre-COVID-19, COVID-19 and Post Covid-19 eras.

Pre-COVID-19 Era

India’s education system has not changed much over the past few decades. Moreover, the value placed on education by the students and parents communities in India and overseas has also been relatively the same.

The focus of education has always revolved around “professional qualifications” with Engineering and Medicine occupying the top spots at the graduate level followed by Law, C.A and MBA either as an integrated or postgraduate qualification among the most coveted qualifications. Traditionally, these qualifications, which require a student to compete at a very high level, have a rigorous structure, and require high investment both in terms of time and money. These qualifications have then paved way to the best paying jobs with a high level of respect in the industry.

The generational shift

However, there has been a shift in perception over the past few years which has led to skills-based programme gaining prominence in India. This has led to a surge in interest in careers in creative industries including Commercial Art, Media, Animation, Design, Performing Arts, Events and Production among others. This has been primarily due to the exposure these industries have received from the explosion of content available on the television and Internet. However, a more pertinent reason for the growth of the creative industries across the globe stems from the over-a-decade old prediction that white-collar jobs will eventually be automated and it is the creative jobs that will be in demand and difficult to replicate through automation.

This belief has led to a steady rise in Liberal Arts universities, creative schools and Creative and Design Thinking programmes in India which have to some extent replaced or upgraded the traditional Mass Media programmes which have offered limited specialisations of Advertising and Journalism. The new-genre courses and institutions offer variety, industry relevance and international engagement (most have internationally educated faculty/imbibe internationally benchmarked pedagogy). Moreover, students get the opportunity for internships and employment once they complete their programmes addressing the needs of the industry for such courses and skills.

COVID-19 Era

I would define this era as March 2020 – December 2020 though various levels of unlock have been implemented across the world. As the world, industry and education moved to the digital space, career discussions have completely revolved around understanding the change in industries and upskilling to stay relevant. The most frequent questions have been – ‘what can I do FOR myself?’ and ‘what can I do BY myself’. The result has been an explosion of three main skill areas – creativity, entrepreneurship and digitization.

The idea behind this – if you have a skill or a talent, hone it and use a business mind to market/explore it. The COVID-19 era has brought about a monumental shift in understanding the importance of skills and building a breed of young, individual businesses in the SME space. The employment market globally, has always been linked to skill based, technical education leading to work readiness. India has caught up quite rapidly.

So really, the Post – COVID-19 Era (2021 onwards) or the “What Next?” Era will unfurl a myriad of opportunities based on education background and immediate learnings through the first two eras. The focus has shifted from careers to skills which have the portability to apply to any industry or independent work as required.

So these are the skills:

  1. Creativity – including Art and Design Thinking skills
  2. Digital Technologies – including Software and App Development
  3. Digital Marketing – including SEO and Social Media Marketing
  4. Research
  5. Computers – from a base level user requirement to advanced coding, graphics and animation.

Industries and companies which have been built over the years are going to continue to exist (assuming they are capable of adapting to new environments) but their personnel requirements have changed. So as we approach 2021, make sure you have bagged some of the above skills to stay relevant and get a headstart in the post-Covid-19 era.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, and opinions of EducationWorld.

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