Specialised degrees to be relevant in the digital era

Publication: Education Times
December 27, 2021

Degree programmes are often considered the bridge between a formal education and industries. Earning a degree is a long-term investment to secure one’s future with a steady career progression. Students enrol in their favourite course, a degree that matches their ambition, thinking of a lifetime payback after the course.

However, the VUCA world, while transforming the job market, has also redefined the traditional perspective of education. Today, a generalist course is unlikely to ensure a balanced career growth. With the world undergoing tremendous transformation driven by disruptive technologies and behavioural change of emerging generations, degree courses also need to be reimagined to meet the current and future requirements.

Digital transformation has led to the creation of new professions by overhauling several traditional job roles. It has also increased the demand for skilled workforces with niche skills. According to a Dell Technology report, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 are yet to be invented. To cater to these requirements – current and future – many new courses are being introduced. The higher education institutions (HEIs) are now incorporating new-age domains into their degree programmes either as electives or specialisations.

Programming languages, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing, IoT, cybersecurity and others are finding their place in the syllabus of IT and computer application courses. Operations management, finance, marketing, retail management, and BFSI are being incorporated in management and business degree programmes. Some specialisations, like analytics and data science, IT and FinTech can be found in both the science and business curricula.

Future-proof learning
By including new skills and cutting-edge technologies in the course syllabus, HEIs aim to help students acquire knowledge and marketable skills needed for the future workforce. The major advantages of having specialisations in the new-age courses include:

  • Acquiring in-demand skills: By offering specialisations, i.e., incorporating new and emerging domains in the course syllabus, HEIs are trying to deliver hands-on training on the in-demand skills to students. This will help students understand what to expect in the real world and improve their skills to thrive in their careers.
  • Improving employability: As the demand for skilled talent increases, students who successfully complete a course with specialisations in a trending domain can find a job effortlessly. Having a new-age skill in hand improves their career prospects exponentially.
  • Becoming a leader: A specialised degree will help a candidate to become an authority in the domain. Within a short span of time, he/she can be an expert and leader in their respective domain of choice. 
  • Exploring global prospects: Many countries have a deficiency in their workforce where emerging skills are concerned, and the skills gap is widening. After graduating with a specialised degree, a skilled candidate can explore lucrative career options – globally.
  • Being resilient: Uncertainty prevails in the digital age. Many job roles are becoming redundant or obsolete as and when new technologies emerge. Having a degree with a specialisation in an emerging domain will ensure professionals remain employable in future disruptions.
  • Lifelong learning: Emerging skills are constantly evolving vis-à-vis technological advancement. Thanks to various players that are involved in the research and development of cutting-edge technologies, different tools, products, and updates are introduced frequently. Professionals need to monitor these innovations and update themselves to stay relevant. It would keep them in learning mode throughout their careers.

The traditional concept of education is evolving to become a more personalised, purpose-oriented learning ecosystem. Students now want to pursue a future-proof course and focus on specialising in a specific domain. New-age programmes with skill-based training are designed to help them achieve this goal and remain relevant in the future workplace.