Evolving Technological Landscape Creating Opportunities

Anything is possible when education is mobile, demonstrable, and gives you hands-on skills that can be built upon. No matter where you live, the world is your oyster, and everything is just a click away.

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India can be a land of great distances, especially when it comes to education and healthcare. When I studied at what was then known as REC, Trichy or Tiruchirappalli, we all lived onsite in an 800-acre campus and faculty were also local. If you wanted to know something that was new or cutting-edge, you either had to invite guest faculty or access what you wanted on the internet. While internet access, at least at REC Trichy, was the best in class at that time, enticing guest faculty to come and speak to us was another matter. Trichy was 300-odd kilometres from the nearest big cities such as Chennai or Bangalore, plus getting to Trichy meant you had to drive down or take a train, both of which potential guest faculty did not want to do. So, the internet was our go-to source despite limited bandwidth, paucity of content and questionable credibility of various sources when we wanted to learn about emerging technologies and other compelling subjects of the day. 

Leapfrog more than 20 years forward to today and things have changed tremendously, especially on the education front. India is in the throes of a quiet or not so quiet education revolution. I say not so quiet considering what is happening on the EdTech front with eye-watering valuations of startups in this space and the consequent rise of unicorns and other forms of rare (and imaginary) animals. The meteoric rise of what might arguably be considered an attempt to democratize or at least deinstitutionalize education, sans geographical limitations, has been in the pipeline for a few years. Things have come to the fore now due to the confluence of cheap and fast internet access and more affordable devices. There are other factors at play, including the digital thrust of the Government of India and the growth of domestic and offshored services to India. So, if you are a student or even a young professional, this is the time to rise and shine–I say this with a tinge of jealousy considering much of what is possible in access to information and educational tools today was not possible when I was a student. Or when I was “formally” a student. With the pace of change in technology, especially in areas such as cybersecurity, the only way to stay on top is to be a lifelong learner.

Being a lifelong learner should be easy today with the rise of so many learning options. The re-working of the education landscape has been accompanied by a development in related areas such as how employers look at learning and qualifications. No longer is it adequate if one has great grades in university; this has become passé as a badge of entry. Now employers also require that you have hands-on experience so that you really can demonstrate what you know, especially on the fundamentals of technology and cybersecurity. 

This is where forward-looking, global learning organizations like ISACA (where I am a past board director) come in handy, especially if you are a young professional or a student. Not only do you access cutting-edge technology-related learning resources, but you also access information that is from technology practitioners and others who are in the know. In today’s world when technologies are changing faster than the time it takes you to read this sentence, you need to be able to access valuable information as and when you want it. 

Especially when one talks about emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, or even Cloud, the only constant changes. This means not only do you need to know the theoretical aspects, but you also need to have hands-on skills where possible and be able to stay on top of things. Credentials from reputable organizations like ISACA help in each of these areas. 

The latest trends indicate people are pivoting and up-skilling, re-skilling and moving across disciplines of education and employment. This means that you need to have access to learning resources that can allow you to add skills to your resume as you progress in your career while also equipping yourself to shift and pivot into new areas of interest that become relevant to your profession. For example, you might start off as an auditor with an interest in information technology, which might mean that you add technology auditing skills and possibly a certification for a roaring start to your career. Or you might be fresh out of university, raring to enter the job-scape, but find it useful to better prepare yourself by learning about the fundamentals of IT, such as networking or software development, data science or any of the plethora of up-and-coming technologies. This means you need training and resources that allow you to ladder up as you go along, adding related and complementary skills. This is where stackable certificates come in handy. They build and complement what you already know and do, allowing for ongoing career advancement. 

These certificates no longer just hang on your wall or stay in your file folder but can be shared on social media profiles, making it easy for peers, prospective employers and the larger community to recognize what you do. Regardless of where you live or the amount of industry in your immediate area, it is easy to showcase your qualifications to hiring managers and potential mentors in your field of interest. 

All this and more is possible when education is mobile, demonstrable, and gives you hands-on skills that can be built upon. No matter where one lives, the world is your oyster, and everything is just a click away.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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