Empowering Futures With 21st Century Skills

Empowering Futures With 21st Century Skills 

By Siddharth Sivashankar, LGT Impact Fellow for Quest Alliance, India

My role as an LGT Impact Fellow at Quest Alliance has me focused on strengthening the organization’s processes and systems, with a focus in the areas of Finance and Business Analytics. As someone who is passionate about working in the intersection of impact and finance, I have found it very interesting experiencing the challenges and opportunities in Venture Philanthropy in comparison to my previous work in Impact Investing and the importance of their coexistence.

It is over 4 months and I feel so excited to get an opportunity to understand the field of education and challenges.

The public education system is grappling with the need for an additional 1 million teachers. In a country where the total worker population ratio is 51.8%, only 30% of women participate in the workforce. 65% of children starting school today will hold jobs that do not exist yet. These numbers are staggering and demand our attention.

Let me rewind a bit and share my own educational journey. Back in the 9th and 10th grade, I found myself being nudged towards training for admission to a top engineering college because of my mathematical skills by signing up for coaching classes. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that engineering wasn’t my true calling. It wasn’t until the 11th grade that I decided to take the reins of my own destiny and opted to study law. But my decision wasn’t entirely rooted in passion; it was partly influenced by my best friend’s aspirations and the popular TV show “Suits.”! As time went by, I realized that I lacked a genuine passion for law. My true calling, my real passion, was something I stumbled upon after I graduated from high school – Finance. But I must say that since I come from a stable background, I had the ‘privilege’ to keep exploring options and look for what interests me.  I often wonder how others, without the same resources and guidance, navigate this complex journey.

Education should empower us to seek the future we want by equipping us with the skills required – skills like creativity, communication, critical thinking, self-awareness, and collaboration. It’s also about imparting life skills – time management, conflict resolution, financial awareness, and leadership. And let’s not forget the importance of digital literacy and fostering gender sensitivity. These are the skills we need to thrive in today’s rapidly changing world.

It is in my fellowship with Quest Alliance, I realized it is well within our capacity to prepare one for the uncertain future – how we as a society can plan proactively to equip the subsequent generations with the skills required and help them create meaningful futures for themselves.

Quest Alliance attempts to bring grassroot level change by empowering learners and expanding partnerships with civil society, organizations, governments and companies. They achieve this through building robust systems, culture and leadership to scale impact.

The Schools Program spans from Class 5 to Class 10 in government schools, with the aim of nurturing 21st-century skills and fostering STEM mindsets among adolescent boys and girls. Annually, this program has made a significant impact, reaching 300,000 students, 18,500 educators, and over 1,500 schools, along with establishing partnerships with various states.

The Youth Program operates within the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) ecosystem. It focuses on building critical 21st-century skills, work readiness, and career skills, with the goal of ensuring that 50% of young people remain in the education system. Annually, this program has touched the lives of 150,000 youths, including 23% women, and has formed partnerships with over six states.

They are at the forefront of developing technology models for learning, including a personalized learning engine, a career game, chatbots for teaching computational thinking, and the development of green skills for learners.

I look forward to playing my role in helping the organization. This includes building structures for efficient costing, frameworks for deep dive analytics and indicators for impact metrics to help the organization achieve excellence through data driven insights and operational efficiency.

I find it very inspiring  the spark with which my colleagues work to enable learners and create impact. I’ve also had the privilege of being part of a fellowship cohort, alongside like-minded individuals from other purpose-driven organizations around the world. The exchange of ideas and insights about the challenges and opportunities our roles, organizations, and countries face has been an enriching experience. I hold dear the seven days I spent with my fellow cohort members during our kick-off workshop in Klosters.

This is a journey worth embarking upon, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Sources: 1. Periodic Labour Force Survey 22-23; 2. Future of Jobs Report World Economic Forum 2023

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