Youth have boomed the growth of digital technologies in multiple segments, says Manish Anand, VP & CIO at Infogain

Youth have boomed the growth of digital technologies in multiple segments, says Manish Anand, VP & CIO at Infogain
Youth have boomed the growth of digital technologies in multiple segments, says Manish Anand, VP & CIO at Infogain

Today’s education system for youth empowerment needs to consider a lot of hands-on exposure.

This is an exclusive article series conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Manish Anand, Vice President & Chief Information Officer at Infogain.

Looking at the “Diffusion Theory of Innovation (Everett Rogers, published in 1962)”, the population of youth falls into the first two categories, i.e., innovators and early adopters, which constitute roughly 16% of the target population (1.5% and 13.5%, respectively).

The very fact that the success of a digital initiative is proportional to its adoption and that the youth hold the key to its early adoption is the strongest rationale to focus on youth empowerment. Said so, while the classical definition of youth empowerment talks about skills, education, and resources, the most profound aspect of youth empowerment is to encourage and allow participation at all levels of decision-making. Participation at decision-making levels not only boosts confidence, but at the same time also brings in the human-centric, out-of-the-box approach that can play a major role in the adoption of digital technology.

Historically, youth have boomed the growth of digital technologies in multiple segments. From personal computers to the internet to social media platforms, youth and their participation at the design level created a roadmap aligned to the slogan “well begun is half done.” There are numerous examples that can be quoted, from “#BlackLiveMatter to Khan Academy and YouTube channels where more than 50% of the channels are run by young entrepreneurs”.

Education plays a vital role in youth empowerment. It’s the foundation that shapes our capabilities in the future. But evaluating the pace of growth in digital technologies, an education system that limits the scope to books (theory) alone will not suffice any more. Today’s education system for youth empowerment needs to consider a lot of hands-on exposure as well. Such endeavors call for case-based learning, exposure to real usage of technologies through regular internships, exposure to industry best practices through industry-academic partnerships, and similar initiatives. The education system also needs to move beyond regular teachers, professors, and researchers by blending the positions of people and professors of practice, i.e., people who are willing to convert their professional experience into teaching.

Another major step is to bridge the digital divide between the economic segments of youth. Education is one aspect where the cost of education controls the quality of education. In the current economies around the globe, such a factor is hard to control. There can be a “social” approach envisioned, but history has shown that the success of such social initiatives is limited, even failure, when the quality of such initiatives is evaluated in the free market. A possible alternate is to promote self-learning by making the required hardware accessible to all classes of society. A good example is the way mobile phones have matured and decreased in price. During the pandemic, it was quite well established that mobile phones could be effectively used as digital tools, mitigating the need to buy a laptop in every household.

For a strong fundamental base that renders an effective landscape for youth empowerment, education is a key and primary requirement. But for an effective education system, the digital technology itself plays an equally vital role by ensuring seamless, easy, and cost-effective accessibility. Another important matter is that technology brings transparency, which makes the information more inclusive. All sections of society access the same information, which is inclusiveness, and an inclusive approach is bound to reduce the digital divide. Technology can also ensure that while the information is equally accessible to all, it can still be personalized and tailored. The ability to tailor a learning program allows youth to build a portfolio of skills that are aligned with their digital passion. I remember that when I was going through a training program on data science, I ran into a lot of time waste as, as an experienced professional, I still had to sit through the basics, an approach that made me lose interest in the program. Had I had the option to tailor the learning program, I could have opted for lessons that would help me bridge my gap, and the same would have helped me maintain my motivation during the learning process. Adaptive learning is another excellent human-centric design that builds progress based on learning stages and standards.

The youth, pivotal as innovators and early adopters in Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations theory, are key to the adoption and success of digital initiatives. Historical trends, from the rise of personal computers to the explosion of social media, demonstrate their critical role in driving technological growth. However, youth empowerment extends beyond conventional education; it necessitates an integration of practical, hands-on learning and exposure to real-world applications. Addressing the digital divide is essential, leveraging cost-effective technologies like mobile phones to ensure inclusive access. Ultimately, the synergy between a dynamic, practical education system and accessible technology is crucial for empowering young minds. This approach not only fosters their engagement and motivation but also gears them towards shaping an innovative, inclusive digital future.

As we continue to navigate the complexities of the digital age, it’s clear that empowering youth is not just an educational imperative but a societal necessity. By harnessing their innovative spirit and early adoption tendencies and by providing them with an education system that is as dynamic and adaptable as the technology they embrace, we are not just preparing them for the future; we are shaping a more inclusive, informed, and technologically adept world.

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