Preparing today’s youth for tomorrow’s world

November 22, 2022

The ‘tech + innovation + talent’ equation is evolving fast, and the definition of ‘future-ready’ already looks different than it did a few years ago. In this blog, Senior Fellow Vijay Rai tells us a bit about what this means for youth as they consider their future endeavors in working and learning.


The emerging world of work is undoubtedly hybrid. Globalization and automation, not to mention the acceleration in digital transformation caused by the pandemic, have caused major changes to the workplace. Can you describe some of these changes, and their implications for young people entering the workforce?

The emerging world of work is invariably becoming hybrid and remote at the same time. This is due to the fact that we are living in a phygital (physical plus digital) space that is dominated by the speed and magnitude of digital acceleration. The unequivocal impact of pandemic on young people is seen as enormous. This shift to the next normal has deeper implications not only for the people entering the workforce but virtually for a large majority.

There are three critical shifts that need attention, and which youth could consider in their learning, working and career journeys. Firstly, ‘learning to learn smart’ is a major focus that needs to be integrated with education, not just earning degrees. Youth must continuously learn, unlearn and relearn to stay relevant for the jobs of the future. Mental and digital “fitness” is important. Secondly, youth must prepare for the emerging field of work that is characterized by human-machine collaboration. Research, science, technology and innovation will remain to be a big demand driver. Finally to unlock rising unemployment, deep technology specializations and entrepreneurship is going to be a key enabler in driving growth and employment for youth.     


Education is critical to developing the skills demanded by the changing workplace. Educational institutions must ensure that the talent they produce is compatible with these changes. In your view, how should what we teach and how we teach be adapted to meet these changes?

In a way, what we teach shall depend on asking a fundamental question: why do we need to teach? Design thinking is a good way in my view to arrive at WHY and WHAT. The majority of educational institutions have spent more time in teaching than developing a sound mind, curiosity, creativity and thinking aptitude of students. Purposeful rethinking and prioritizing is important to bridge the gap between education, research and practice.

A focus on ‘know what’ is pivotal, therefore building intellectual curiosity and creativity followed by a sound mind, empirical research and application oriented knowledge is useful. A good way to look at delivering effective learning is through use cases and project based frameworks where 20% is conceptual and classroom, 20% is research, observation and peer based learning and the rest 60% is devoted to learning on the job and practice.       


Also important to consider are the changing aspirations and goals of today’s youth. How are today’s youth distinguishing themselves from past generations in terms of their aspirations, expectations and values? What are some of the implications of these shifts for policymakers, business leaders, and educators?

Today’s youth are driven and motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose. It’s beautifully explained by Daniel Pink in his book DRIVE. They are tech savvy, aspire to learn and grow fast, expect quick recognition and freedom to work and experiment. They also appear to be a restless generation with a relatively lower sense of loyalty towards employers and gravitate to jobs where they get their personal values aligned with that of organizations.

Policymakers should focus on developing policies that enable, nurture and recognise their talents and deploy them constructively in the development process. Harnessing ideas of the younger generation, encouraging research and innovation driven planning and implementation systems are important to let youth thrive. Helping devise special policy incentives and mechanisms to look at educating marginalized youth, empowering them with in-demand vocational skills that make them employable is a big task.  

Business leaders must embrace the energy of youth inclusively and give them enough space to showcase their innate talents to enhance productivity and competitiveness.

Educators have to teach less and instead guide youth to think creatively, experiment, innovate and develop their holistic skills through immersive and application based learning.           


Throughout history, young people have embraced their agency in shaping the world around them by mobilizing to create innovative solutions. The present generation of youth is no exception. With the advent of the digital world, what is the role of young people in solving problems confronting our society?  

Young startups and innovators have developed breakthrough ideas and platforms that have created globally successful business models and significantly improved operating efficiencies around the world. We see the rising number of some of these “stay hungry and stay foolish” entrepreneurs taking the path less traveled and set out to change the world while making an impact.    

In a hyperconnected digital world, youth are the passionate advocates of change and global shapers. Youth have to play a game changing role in advancing the goal of sustainable and inclusive development by developing innovation led scalable solutions for people, planet and profit. Youth must take the lead in doing cutting edge research in science and  technology which fosters affordable innovation and develops products and solutions for the larger benefit of humanity. Solving the problems of climate change, access to good health, inclusive education and sustainable development are critical areas for equitable and inclusive growth.              

Vijay Rai is a seasoned professional and a global thought leader with a rich, diverse and cross-cultural experience of nearly three decades in infrastructure, technology, oil and gas, renewable energy, telecom, consulting and manufacturing sectors. He currently works as Chief Growth Officer-Asia Pacific for an Atlanta based AI design and development solutions company and a member of the executive board. He has led two companies in the past as Managing Director-APAC & EMEA region for smart sensors and IoT design and development and as CEO of a renewable energy company in India. 

Vijay is passionate about the future of work, innovation, cutting-edge technology & skills, assistive technology for specially abled people, sustainable transformation and has been a researcher, speaker and chair in many forums. He also supports the UN mission on science, technology and innovation and is an active advocate of climate change, inclusive and sustainable growth.

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