Digitally upskilling the youth in the post-COVID era is a vital investment, says Anil Kuril, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Union Bank of India

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Digitally upskilling the youth in the post-COVID era is a vital investment, says Anil Kuril, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Union Bank of India
Digitally upskilling the youth in the post-COVID era is a vital investment, says Anil Kuril, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Union Bank of India

For children and youth, digital literacy is particularly important as they are growing up in a digital world and will need to be able to navigate and use technology in their personal and professional lives

This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Anil Kuril, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Union Bank of India

What is digital literacy, and why does it matter?

Digital literacy refers to the ability to use technology to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information. This can include a wide range of skills, such as being able to use a computer, access the internet, navigate different websites, create and edit documents, work with data, and use various digital tools for communication and collaboration.

It is becoming increasingly important for individuals to have digital literacy skills in today’s world. The internet and technology are becoming integrated into every aspect of our lives, from education and work to communication and entertainment. Having digital literacy skills enables individuals to access information and resources, participate in online communities, and take advantage of the many opportunities that technology provides. Additionally, digital literacy is often a requirement for many jobs, and being able to use technology effectively can help individuals be more competitive in the job market.

For children and youth, digital literacy is particularly important as they are growing up in a digital world and will need to be able to navigate and use technology in their personal and professional lives. By providing them with the digital literacy skills they need, they will be able to take advantage of the many educational and other opportunities that technology provides and be better prepared for the future workforce.

As the digital world is constantly advancing and changing, it is also important to keep digital literacy knowledge up to date. This will allow individuals to stay competitive in the job market and continue to access new technologies and information.

As an IT leader, what are your views on digitally upskilling the youth in the post-COVID era?

As an IT leader, I would view digitally upskilling the youth in the post-COVID era as a vital investment in the future of our society and economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a digital-first world and highlighted the importance of having digital literacy and skills for individuals to participate fully in today’s society and economy.

I would see the digital up-skilling of youth as an opportunity to bridge the digital divide and ensure that all young people, regardless of their background, have the skills and resources they need to succeed in the digital age. This would involve providing access to digital tools and resources, as well as training and education programmes to help young people develop the digital literacy skills they need.

In addition to digital literacy, it would also be important to focus on other essential digital skills such as coding, data analysis, and critical thinking. These skills are in high demand across various industries and can open up many opportunities for youth, not only in the technology field but in other sectors as well.

I would also prioritise the inclusion of soft skills such as teamwork, communication, creativity, and problem-solving, which are highly valued in the current and future workforce.

Finally, I would also see the digital upskilling of youth as an opportunity to inspire and engage young people in technology and to encourage them to explore the many opportunities that the digital world provides. This can also help to build a strong talent pipeline for the future workforce and drive innovation in the tech industry.

Overall, investing in the digital up-skilling of youth in the post-COVID era is not only an opportunity to close the digital divide and empower young people to succeed in today’s digital world but also to secure the future workforce, innovation, and growth.

How can the youth be digitally empowered? What kind of exposure and engagement opportunities in the educational curriculum can educational institutes implement to raise the interest of youths in upgrading their digital skills?

There are several ways in which youth can be digitally empowered:

  • Providing access to technology and digital tools: Ensuring that young people have access to the technology and digital tools they need to develop their digital skills is essential. This can include providing access to computers and the internet at school or in community centers, as well as providing training and support to help young people learn how to use these tools effectively.
  • Incorporating digital literacy and skills into the educational curriculum: Integrating digital literacy and skills into the educational curriculum can help ensure that young people are learning the skills they need to succeed in the digital age. This can include teaching coding and programming, data analysis, and digital communication and collaboration skills.
  • Offering extracurricular activities and programs: Educational institutes can also offer extracurricular activities and programmes that focus on digital skills, such as robotics clubs, coding workshops, and hackathons. These programmes can provide young people with opportunities to explore different aspects of technology and engage with it in a fun and creative way.
  • Promote digital entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities: Encouraging young people to develop their own digital skills and explore their interests in technology through digital entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities can help raise the interest of youth in upgrading their digital skills and allow them to explore the many opportunities that the digital world provides.
  • Creating partnerships with industry and community organisations: Educational institutes can also create partnerships with industry and community organisations to provide youth with additional opportunities to learn about and engage with technology. This can include internships, job shadowing, and mentorship programs.
  • Encourage critical thinking and problem solving: It is also critical to encourage young people’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are extremely valuable in the digital age. This can be done through project-based learning, interactive discussions, and team problem-solving activities.

All in all, providing young people with access to technology and digital tools, incorporating digital literacy and skills into the educational curriculum, offering extracurricular activities and programs, promoting digital entrepreneurship, creating partnerships with industry and community organizations, and encouraging critical thinking are just a few ways educational institutes can empower youth to become digitally literate and proficient.

Should it become a must for schools, colleges, and other educational institutes to conduct workshops or crash-course programmes to drive home the importance of technology for businesses?

I believe that it would be beneficial for schools, colleges, and other educational institutes to conduct workshops or crash-course programmes to drive home the importance of technology for businesses.

Technology is becoming increasingly important in all sectors and industries, and it is crucial that young people understand how technology can be used to drive business growth and innovation. Conducting workshops or crash-course programs can provide young people with hands-on experience and a better understanding of how technology can be applied in business contexts.

Workshops and crash-course programmes can also help to expose young people to the different technologies and tools that are used in businesses and allow them to explore different applications and use cases. Additionally, these programmes can also provide young people with the opportunity to network with industry professionals and learn from their experiences.

By conducting workshops and crash-course programs, educational institutes can also help raise awareness about the importance of technology in business and encourage young people to consider technology-related careers.

Furthermore, having those workshops and crash-course programmes can also benefit the educational institutions themselves. The programmes can provide the institution with the opportunity to build or strengthen industry partnerships, which can lead to increased resources, funding, and other benefits. Also, it can help the educational institution keep their curriculum up-to-date and aligned with the demands of the industry.

In conclusion, while technology is constantly advancing and changing, it is important for educational institutes to keep their curriculum up-to-date and aligned with the demands of the industry, and conducting workshops or crash-course programmes is one way to do so. It will not only benefit the students but also the educational institution and the industry as well.

As an IT leader, what advice would you give to the youth considering a career in the technology industry? What should they know about the industry before starting their career? What challenges they could face in and how do they overcome the challenges?

As an IT leader, here is some advice I would give to the youth considering a career in the technology industry:

  1. Keep learning: The technology industry is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay current with new technologies and advancements. This means taking the time to learn new skills and staying up-to-date with the latest industry developments.
  2. Be adaptable: Technology is evolving fast, so it’s important to be open to learning new things and being adaptable to change. Being comfortable with change and uncertainty will help you navigate the ever-changing technology landscape.
  3. Be proactive: There are many opportunities in the technology industry, and it’s important to be proactive in seeking them out. Network with people in the industry, attend industry events, and seek out internships or other opportunities to gain experience and make connections.
  4. Learn about different areas of technology: The technology industry encompasses many different areas such as programming, data science, cybersecurity, AI, and many more. Explore different areas and figure out what you are passionate about.
  5. Gain practical experience: While education is important, having hands-on experience is what sets you apart. Look for opportunities to gain practical experience, such as internships or projects that allow you to apply your knowledge in a real-world setting.
  6. Learn to work with others: The technology industry is often a team-based work environment, so it is important to be able to work well with others. This includes learning how to communicate effectively, collaborate on projects, and resolve conflicts.
  7. Understand the industry culture: The technology industry has its own culture, which can be very different from other industries. It’s important to be aware of the unique culture of the technology industry and understand how it shapes the way that people work and interact.
  8. Be patient and persistent: Pursuing a career in technology can be challenging, and it is not uncommon to face roadblocks. However, it is important to be patient and persistent in the face of those challenges and to never give up on your goals.

In terms of the challenges they could face in the technology industry, they could face challenges such as:

  • Difficulty breaking into the industry: Finding your first job in the tech industry can be difficult, particularly if you are competing against other candidates with more experience.
  • Keeping up with the rapid pace of change: Technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate, and it can be challenging to keep up with new technologies and advancements.
  • Staying current with skills: Staying current with skills and knowledge is essential to succeeding in the technology industry.
  • Balancing work and personal life: The technology industry can be demanding, and it’s important to find a good balance between work and personal life.
  • Navigating the industry culture: The technology industry has its own unique culture, and it can be challenging to navigate and understand the expectations.

To overcome those challenges:

  • Be proactive in learning new skills and staying up-to-date with the latest industry developments.
  • Seek out mentors and other experienced professionals who can provide guidance and support.
  • Leverage online resources, such as online tutorials and training, to learn new skills.
  • Be open to new opportunities and take risks in order to get ahead.
  • Prioritize your well-being and strive to find a healthy work-life balance.
  • Seek out networking opportunities and build a strong professional network in the industry.

Overall, a career in the technology industry can be very rewarding, but it does require dedication, hard work, and a willingness to continuously learn and adapt. With hard work, determination, and a willingness to constantly learn and adapt, one can build a successful career in the field.

Any other points you would like to highlight?

As the world becomes more digitized, the risks associated with digital exposure are also increasing. Some of the key risks associated with digital exposure include:

  1. Cybersecurity threats: With the increasing amount of personal and business information being stored and shared online, the risk of cyberattacks such as hacking, malware, and phishing scams is also increasing. These attacks can result in the loss or theft of sensitive information, financial loss, and reputational damage.
  2. Privacy breaches: As more personal information is shared online, the risk of privacy breaches also increases. This includes unauthorised collection, sharing, or use of personal information, as well as the possibility of identity theft.
  3. Online fraud: The internet has made it easier for scammers to reach a large number of people, and online fraud has become a major issue. This can include fraudulent online transactions, phishing scams, and other types of fraud that can result in financial loss.
  4. Social engineering: Social engineering refers to the manipulation of people into taking certain actions or divulging sensitive information. Social engineering tactics can include phishing emails, phone scams, and even fake social media profiles.
  5. Addiction and mental health concerns: The increased use of digital technology can also lead to negative impacts on mental health and well-being, such as addiction and social isolation.
  6. Disinformation and Polarization: Social media and the internet have become the most powerful tools for disinformation and polarization. It has made it easier for any individual or group to spread misinformation, propaganda, and extremist ideologies.

To mitigate these risks, individuals can take steps such as implementing strong cybersecurity measures, being vigilant about protecting personal information, and being aware of the potential risks associated with online interactions. Regularly reviewing and updating privacy settings, using anti-virus and anti-malware software, keeping software updated, and being wary of unexpected or suspicious emails and links can also help reduce the risk of digital exposure.

“The content or opinion expressed in the article is of the author in his or her individual capacity and does not represent the bank’s view in any manner.”

Also readTrends of Cloud Computing and Cyber Security in 2023

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