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10 crucial skills Indian students should learn

By AJINKYA POTDAR
April 29, 2019 08:50 IST
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Empathy, creativity, and the ability to deal with failure are just some the skills that will prepare students for the future, says Ajinkya Potdar.

Skills for students

IMAGE*: To be an entrepreneur, problem solving is one of the skills students need to learn.   Photograph: Kind courtesy National Innovation Foundation India

A student who begins the K-12 academic cycle in 2019 will graduate from grade 10 in the year 2031.

With advancements in technology happening faster than we can imagine, it seems almost impossible to predict where the world will be when today's school starters pass out from school.

According to America's Bureau of Labour Statistics, 65 per cent of children starting school today will face jobs that don't even exist today.

Educators have identified crucial skills called the '21st century skills' that today's students need to succeed in their careers during the Information Age.

Entrepreneurial skills are timeless and deal with the ability to spot issues, adapt, improvise and advance.

An entrepreneur is not just a businessman but s/he is a visionary, risk taker and problem solver.

If you are looking to start something of your own, these are some skills that will set you apart.

1. Creativity

It is something that everyone has but perhaps not managed to express in his/her own unique ways.

Whether it is class projects, art class or the school open day, they all present students an opportunity to explore their creative side -- without the fear of marks.

The easiest way they can explore their creativity could also be in the way they decorate or personalise their bags, tiffin's, bottles or pen pouches.

I remember always adorning my bags with stickers and button badges.

Who knows, if fellow students like the designs, it could turn out to be the first venture opportunity for the student.

2. Dealing with failure

Schools have made success a non-negotiable concept.

This is more so in India where grades and marks have unfortunately become the sacrosanct measuring stick for the intellect and future prospects of a student.

Though sports activities have the element of learning from losing, according to me it is still not enough.

Perhaps students should take part in any and every competition or quiz or contests, not just from the perspective of winning but just to be able to deal with rejection or failure because I agree that such an approach cannot be taken about academics.

There is always a lesson to be learned!

3. Self motivation 

An entrepreneur is always known by his drive.

Students in school have the opportunity to practice this throughout their 12 years as they have numerous opportunities to learn and better themselves -- be it academics or any sports.

The student can reflect on the academic year that has passed and motivate himself for the new goals for the upcoming academic year. This also fosters in an optimistic approach to life.

4. Communication

Communication is necessary to be an effective entrepreneur.

This is one of the single most important skill that students learn in school.

Be it projects, team sports or simply sharing a bench with someone -- students can practice communication day in and day out.

In schools, it is also vital to be able to receive feedback from teachers, accept criticism and be able to learn to listen to others.

5. Empathy

Empathy is one of the most important life-skills needed in today's world.

It is a fundamental component of establishing effective connections and meaningful relationships / friendships.

To be a successful entrepreneur, it is important for the student to associate and relate to the world and people around.

The school environment enables students to acknowledge diversity and foster respect.

6. Teamwork

With the base of communication and empathy, teamwork is an underlying virtue taught to us throughout our school life.

Notwithstanding sports activities, students can assess their team working capabilities through simple tasks and class projects.

With varied activities like dramatics or organising class picnics or school fairs, students can realise the power of setting a common goal and putting in a joint effort to achieve the same.

7. Leadership

One of outcomes of team activities as highlighted above is the ability for students to recognise their leadership potential.

In fact, the concept of a class monitor is the first practical exercise in a student's life to experience leadership.

An entrepreneur is not just an inventor, but a person capable of leading people – be it employees, customers or investors, with his ideas.

8. Money management

How many times have we complained about the insufficiency of the pocket money we have received whist we were in school.

Entrepreneurs are known for how smartly they are able to manage their limited resources.

Students learn the value of money in school and also learn how their friends manage their money.

I remember how inspired I was when a friend of mine had saved enough money over two years to buy a Nintendo Gameboy!

It showed me the potential of creating plans for saving money.

9. Planning

The concept of the school time table is the first 'plan' students are exposed to.

How the subject periods are spaced and the time allocated to each subject -- this was always a mystery to me and it amazed me to know how it all fit in so perfectly.

Second comes the planning for any exam -- figuring out how much time to spend in revision, practice tests and general preparation.

No entrepreneur can be successful if he lacks the ability to plan his actions and execution strategies.

10. Research 

Off late, research has becoming synonymous with 'Googling' any topic.

However, entrepreneurs are able to succeed with great business ideas mainly because of their ability to research.

Whether it is researching about a problem, customer behaviour or latest trends, the core skills needed are what we learn in school.

I recollect my a particular history project where I had to prepare a report on the life of common citizen during the Chola dynasty.

I truly believe that there is no need for a student to sign up for an MBA for an MBA just teaches about effective management of a business activity.

If one truly wants to develop his/her entrepreneurial traits, a school environment could be a good starting point.

 

*Image published for representational purposes only.

Ajinkya Potdar is CEO and co-founder, Maxplore Centre of Entrepreneurship, a start-up that teaches entrepreneurship to school students.

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