Article: The importance of ‘T-shaped’ professionals in a post COVID-19 world

Leadership Development

The importance of ‘T-shaped’ professionals in a post COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 Pandemic has unleashed devastation on communities and on economies around the world in the past year. The death toll has exceeded 4 million across the globe and the economic losses due to the pandemic have topped 4 trillion US dollars.The recovery of economies around the world to Pre COVID-19 levels is predicted to take at least 2 years.
The importance of ‘T-shaped’ professionals in a post COVID-19 world

Apart from the economic devastation, the pandemic has already accelerated several trends, one of them being Digital Transformation: the adoption of digital technologies which is leading to accelerated Innovation & new business models within Industries & Corporates.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact not only on businesses but also on the workforce and on human capital. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Industry 4.0, an increasingly-used term to collectively represent businesses driven by AI, Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, Cloud Computing, IoT technologies had started the creation of new kinds of job roles whilst simultaneously rendering redundant, if not irrelevant, a large slice of the conventional workforce.

Demand for T-shaped Professionals

These rapid changes that started well before the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a strong demand for professionals having a wide breadth of knowledge across multiple disciplines combined with in-depth knowledge and skills in a specialised area – the ‘T’ shaped professional.

The accelerated technological disruptions and adoptions has resulted in professionals finding themselves becoming ‘irrelevant’. Hence, ‘learning to learn’ or learning orientation will be the key for professionals to remain relevant. Young Professionals and Students would also need to be comfortable dealing with uncertainty in this VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world. Further, they need to develop problem solving and solutioning skills to stay relevant.

Curriculum 4.0 to groom T-shaped Professionals

In the face of these uncertain times, How then should one train themselves to become ‘T’- shaped professionals?

Students and Young professionals must choose programs and institutions whose Curriculum facilitates their ‘holistic development’. As the ‘100-year life’ becomes a reality, most of that life is anticipated to be spent working. 

Students and young professionals need to choose programs which are based on Curriculum 4.0, where they will be exposed to multiple disciplines across humanities, performing arts, design, languages, and science, including natural sciences. This exposure will enable them to discover their potential and possible choice of profession. A holistically developed graduate is prepared to embrace change with an ability to respond effectively to changing career options at different stages of life. 

Dealing with uncertainty, problem-solving and solutioning are important skills for any professional today. Conventional classroom-based courses do not help professionals prepare for the future, as they are most often trained to address structured problems with very little ambiguity or missing data. This approach does not adequately prepare them to solve unstructured problems. 

Curriculum 4.0 ensures that students carry out their own piece of research as part of their course – either on a business problem they have brought with them or on a live problem posed by a company. In Curriculum 4.0, Students and Young professionals get involved in longer-term research projects to develop their skills. ‘Learning by Solving’ is crucial for those who wish to become T-shaped professionals.

Curriculum 4.0 has a teaching-learning pedagogy that focuses on imagining the future and not on information dissemination. A typical in-class case discussion will no longer be about ‘what happened?’ but it will be about ‘what can happen?’. This implies a change both in the content and in the delivery. Young professionals and students need to choose Institutions that will travel that extra mile to re-ignite their imagination, take an approach to learning that can facilitate self-learning and make them learn ‘how to learn’.

Faculty mentors

As Curriculum 4.0 becomes crucial for grooming T-shaped professionals, the role of faculty will shift from the traditional task of lecturing to more of coaching and mentoring. This shift will aid the process of ‘self-discovery’ and ‘self-learning’ amongst students. This shift has got a further boost, thanks to the widespread adaptation of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The learning experience will undergo a shift from students being mere passive listeners in the process to becoming active co-producers of new insights. This highlights the rising importance of group works, simulations, games, role plays, industry interactions, industry-relevant problem-solving as compared to earlier roles. Faculty will be playing the role of an athlete coach providing individualised guidance and mentoring to each student. The shift will be from ‘one-to-many’ to ‘one-to-one’ facilitated by the three ‘I’s of digital learning: Interactive, Integrated and Individualised.

The COVID-19 crisis, particularly the way it has unfolded, has accelerated change across boundaries, across industries and institutions. It is quite clear that the winners in a post COVID world will be ‘T-shaped’ professionals who can deal with uncertainty, who can learn quickly, who can leverage technology, work in teams and innovate to find feasible solutions for business.

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Topics: Leadership Development, #GuestArticle, #COVID-19

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