How to prepare children for industry 4.0

Technology is transforming the world faster than we anticipated. The pandemic has increased the speed at which new technologies have been developed and adopted and we are increasingly seeing the beneficial role of Industry 4.0 technologies in changing the way we connect to each other, live, work, and educate our children.

New technologies continue to be developed and adopted, taking over some work activities that are currently done by people. In addition, a report by recruitment services firm Michael Page India called ‘The Humans of Data Science’ revealed that data science will create roughly 11.5 million job openings by 2026. LinkedIn’s Emerging Jobs Report ranked data science as the fastest growing world globally.

The report found that this sector has grown by over 650 percent since 2012 and is predicted to grow from USD 37.9 billion in 2019 to USD 230.80 billion by 2026. This huge growth is principally being driven by the impact of technological upgrades like Robotic Process Automation and AI.

INDUSTRY 4.0 AND THE SHIFT IN EDUCATION TO MEET ITS NEEDS

Industry 4.0 is underpinned by the connectivity between devices and from having a growing understanding of how this connectivity is set up. Industry 4.0 requires skill sets such as programming, computational thinking, connectivity, creative thinking, and data analysis.

‘The new Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary curriculum enables students to recognize the role of computer science in a range of industries, to develop computer science skills of their own, and to help them recognize the role that computer science would play in their future careers.

While the government and industry leaders are busy adjusting to the Industry 4.0 requirements mentioned above, educators need to identify and equip the skills young learners will need for Industry 4.0 – the world of tomorrow and future jobs.

STARTING WITH COMPUTING AT AN EARLY AGE CAN HELP

In India, the New Education Policy envisions an education system inline with the rapidly changing employment landscape and global ecosystem. Students must be equipped with the right skills and mindset to help them thrive in the future world of work.

As a leading international education board, we understand that this is the need of the hour, and have introduced syllabuses like Computing very early on in our curriculum. The primary and lower secondary school Computing curriculum we have designed is to offer young students the chance to develop skills related to Industry 4.0.

Having strong computing skills is now so important. The earlier a child can start building and developing them, the better equipped they would be for their future learning and the world of work.

By learning computational thinking and programming skills from an early age, students will be able to develop competencies such as logic and decomposition progressively, well before they have to contend with applying these within a professional and working environment.

An effective computing curriculum should introduce young students to these upcoming concepts. This will help students to recognize the role of computer science in a range of industries and to develop computer science skills of their own.

Coding, and understanding the need for precision, will also help young learners to understand how things work and how devices and machines respond to instruction and input. This knowledge, regardless of whether it is developed later on in their education, will help students to understand the relationship between computers, programs and the machines that are central to Industry 4.0.

COMPUTING AND BEYOND

We know that not all young students will want to become computer scientists when they grow up. However, there are lots of reasons why young children will benefit from understanding how computers work. It is very likely that they will work in industry sectors that embrace Industry 4.0, so it will be important for them to be able to make connections between computers and the world around them.

These connections will include how technology is being increasingly applied to existing and evolving practices, and the ethical decisions that need to be made about this application. These connections and considerations form an important part of the computing curriculum.

HOW SCHOOLS CAN HELP

While schools must support their students to understand each aspect of Industry 4.0, having access to computers and the internet is not necessary for every computing lesson.

Many of the activities can be undertaken away from a computer, particularly in computational thinking, networks and communication and computer system content. Working on what we call ‘unplugged’ activities can actually help enhance a student’s understanding.

If teachers are also able to show students examples of automation in local industries or let them hear first-hand from people working in these industries, it would help to give their students a better understanding of how they may one day apply what they have learned in their future careers.

India’s New Education Policy indicates there should be an increasing emphasis on mathematics and computational thinking throughout the school years, starting from foundation stage. Cambridge International has also introduced syllabuses that develop a broad range of IT skills, knowledge and understanding, from a young age.

If we want our children to be prepared for Industry 4.0 and be ready for the challenges and opportunities that it will present in later life, it is vital that we provide them with a well-rounded education and a strong foundation.

This includes helping them to develop their computing skills and understanding of how to use these digital technologies responsibly. We hope that by doing this, we can ensure they are ready for the world of tomorrow.

By Mahesh Shrivastava, Regional Director, South Asia, Cambridge Assessment International Education.

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