Changing focus is the new Normal

‘The only thing constant is change' a statement we all are familiar with. The sudden change the pandemic has brought about in all our lives is viewed in two different perspectives. One as a ‘restart button’ and the other as a ‘slow down’ as a whole. Either ways looking at the situation through different angles, bridging the gap would be the best and only option. Let’s restart in this slow down creating opportunities and more avenues to explore. Innovation and Ideation is the need of the hour where determination, values and grit play a vital role.

The youth in India constitutes over 34% of more that 1.3 billion of the total population in India. There has been a transformation in thoughts, businesses and the over all economy over the years. This is the right time to ponder over the realities and be innovative creating the next wave of transformation.

Success or achievement was gauged through permanent or life time job security, rules and regulations hindering progress due to minimal risks people were willing to take and it was a time when companies decided one’s career.

The agility we see around us is proof enough that there are no boundaries or barriers in managing a career. You are the decision maker to the extent of attainable growth which is experienced as individual achievement and seen by others as a success. The path to the same has requirements which is never served on a silver platter. Competition is constant and so is the required need to enhance one’s skills. Raising the bar of your abilities is important and the best is to compete with self. Be better than what you were the previous day is the only mantra and the key to the same lies in self-awareness.

In India we have *1,12,637 Senior secondary schools, *39,071 colleges and *11,923 stand alone institutions. In these, students are most familiar with the subjects Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Commerce, English, Social Sciences, the language of the respective state and that of the Nation. The next phase of choices obviously would be Engineering, Computer Science, Medicine, Accountancy, Business Administration, Fashion Designing, Interior Designing, Film, Animation, Hotel Management, Law and Civil services. Under all of the above we are seldom spoken to about the sub categories that each of the subjects have. To specialise in the subject based on our interest and what we would like to give back to society, contributing to the overall growth of the country’s economy is never spoken about.

The availability of job opportunities and the skills required for the same has always been a topic for discussion. End of the year the term ‘ Unemployable’ is thrown at most of the youngsters who graduate. The quality of the work one delivers blended with how much of a team player one is plays a vital factor. This is termed as being employable in professional terminology. Thus you increase value for the company and the self-worth enhances your confidence to ideate towards the progress, creating more opportunities for yourself as well as for others. You become more a contributor transitioning towards being a leader. 

We have crossed the boundaries of time to bridge the gaps between the demand and supply of skilled, collaborative and efficient manpower. More than chasing the existing jobs, we need to get on to a mode of creating job opportunities that go way beyond the boundaries of social stigma and socially approved subjects of study. We have seen the transition of the profession of a barber to a hair stylist, cook to a chef, make-up artist to a make-up guru, fashion designer to a fashion guru, advertising to public relations, reputation management and so on to name a few. These changes for the better happened because there were a few who led and drove the change to further create employment opportunities and also bringing the different countries closer through businesses. What is the change that could be driven in outlook and the work opportunities we could create in the field of medicine, engineering, accountancy, business administration, history and geography. Innovative thinking and dignity of labour is the change we have to drive in India, thus creating more arena’s to work in, job opportunities, reason to upgrade skills and facilities in working spaces.

Being history and creating history is entirely different. Pressures from parents, professors, peers, society and a time limit to settle is what should be history. Let’s take an example of a person who likes history as a subject, the options of careers could also include being a licensed tourist guide employed by the department of tourism with departments tracking heritage sites, monuments and looking into the restoration and maintenance of the same. This responsible job requires knowledge in safety management, history of the place, culture of the region, geography of the place, different languages , etc. To convey the beauty of historic places, museums, landmarks and to make the same interesting to draw the tourists both within the country and from other countries. A student thus needs to explore extensively and research on subjects they speak about.

The additional skills required would be effective communication skills, a good overall presence, good time management, conflict resolution skills, problem solving ability, good network with the travel, local businesses and legal departments in case of emergencies, coordination skills, resilience, responsiveness and other personal values. In a country like India we need to look towards being a licensed tourist guide and the profession should be elevated to a level of choice if one loves history, geography and tourism.

A teaching profession should be a career choice made out of the passion to transfer knowledge and build a better society through the confidence instilled in the youth. A teacher/lecturer/professor needs to understand that the fact whether a student likes a subject or not depends entirely on the way they are taught. Whether the student is able to see what’s in it for them in learning the same makes the subject more relevant. 

Creating history will be to have an empowered youth strength who know the avenues of study available in what they have passion for, more colleges that have varied options of study with the right to choose subjects of interest. We need to move into a skills based and practical learning from a regular project and marks based learning to make one eligible for graduating and certification. How much of the knowledge do they retain and how much could be of use later?

Opportunity does not knock at your door only once, it keeps passing by. If you sleep through, the smarter one makes use of the same. Youth is the time to be participative in ideating ways for a better tomorrow and making it happen. A class above is to be able to cope, to be the change and to be focussed in an agile environment.

This is the generation of options and availability. The life skills required would be spontaneity, self-awareness, clarity of thought, ideation, innovation, effective communication, influencing, risk management, problem solving and stress management. Taking up responsibility and accountability when the time calls for the same. 

The pandemic has proved that nothing is indispensable. Changing focus is the new normal. Innovation with an overall change in outlook and attitude. Lead and others will follow.

by  Anita Peter

May 30, 2020