260+ delegates from
140+ organizations across
16 states were part of the conversations on the future of work and learning.

Here are the key insights/ highlights from different sessions across the 2 day summit:

Keynote: Challenges & Opportunities In Lifelong Learning For Inclusion & Equity

Speaker: Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP

Key Insights

  • Education, as a sector, needs to evolve, for all of us to be able to tackle the challenges that the future of work is going to present. The system, in its current form, is regimented and instrumentalist. It needs to move beyond ‘human capital building’ to enabling competencies which help people live wholesome lives, as they learn to define it for themselves. Jobs are only one part of youth aspirations.

    “Some major traits of the current education system include 'listen, but don't question', 'rote memorize', 'one size fits all'. However, most of us learn very differently. We are all neuro-biologically differently wired. Some learn better through visual routes, some actually prefer rote memorization and some are good with their hands. How do we create a system that caters to and also understands different learner needs?”

  • The Social-Emotional-Learning approach to education: We need a new approach to building learning environments. A major assumption that education systems across the world have been based on is that the brain is only rational. But recent research shows that the brain is social, emotional and not just rational. When we make decisions, they are influenced by emotions as well. These emotions need to be trained. The SEL (Social Emotional Learning approach) talks about mindfulness, empathy, compassion and critical inquiry - aspects that education systems today are not addressing. This approach pushes for a constant dialogue between the emotional and the rational. It is based on the premise that they don't work in isolation from each other. This change is critical if we want to address the rise in mental health related concerns among the youth today.

    “Cases of anxiety, depression and suicide are on the rise among youth, globally. We cannot ignore these trends while participating in discussions around technology and education.Education cannot only be about standardised assessments; a zero sum game where students are pitted against each other. We need a new approach - one which addresses all aspects of the brain (social, emotional and rational) - to enable true human flourishing.”

Plenary: Journey Of A Thousand Miles: School To Work Transition For Adolescent Girls And Young Women


  • Meenakshi, ITI Alumni, Delhi
  • Sister Diana, Principal, Nirmal Jyothi Technical Institute
  • Sakina Khatun, Girl Champion, Deogarh, Jharkhand

Moderator: Deepika Singh,
Education Specialist, Quest Alliance

Key Insights:

Through a panel discussion, this session focused on connecting the dots between desires, aspirations and achievements of women, and barriers that keep them from learning & earning. It uncovered layers of what impacts school to work transitions for young women by understanding gaps in education and skilling.

  • Poor learning environments and lack of support from families together push girls out of schools: A major cause of high dropout rates in Deogarh today is the poor learning environments we have in schools. Several schools struggle with the problem of teachers who are not motivated to teach, a management that doesn’t want to address problems like proper toilets for girls and parents who don’t want to educate daughters after they hit puberty. With such barriers in place, individual stories of success, of girls who overcome all these barriers and present alternative life trajectories to their communities, are important.

    “The aspirations that girls have are very wide ranging. But very rarely do they have any support from their families or communities. Why they come for training or education, it is important to provide them with the safe space they otherwise don’t have. These spaces should enable them to access peers, mentors, educators and a learning environment that allows them to aspire without fear and also build pathways towards their aspirations.”
    - Sister Diana, Principal, Nirmal Jyothi Technical Institute

  • Workplaces need to be sensitised towards the challenges and aspirations that young women walk in with: If after overcoming barriers that cause dropout, girls complete their education and join the workforce, there is a whole new world of challenges waiting for them. Employer sensitization which involves companies understanding the challenges and aspirations that young women walk in with is critical. This will enable provisions such as counselling, cab services and mentoring support. All of these are critical to enable successful school to work transitions.

Moderator: Vikas Goswami,
Board Member, Quest Alliance

Plenary: Girls Education And Skilling Of Young Women As A Force Multiplier


  • Shailja Mehta, Lead, 10to19 Dasra Adolescents Collaborative
  • Vandana Varma, Program Director at IKEA Foundation, IKEA Foundation
  • Rumi Mitra, Head, Corporate Citizenship, IBM India, South Asia

Key Insights:

This session focused on collaborative action by funders for gender responsive work, inclusive education and equity in economic opportunities.

  • Outcomes focused collaborations are critical: We need to look at young people and their needs through more comprehensive frameworks that address their life-cycle needs. For instance, a program working on education needs to understand the connections with sexual health and nutritional needs of young people. There are critical connections that all sector players need to be identifying and collaborating over. What this means that needs to be a minimum consensus - over desired outcomes - between the government, funders and practitioners. Given the enormity of challenges we are talking about, stakeholders cannot be working in silos from each other.

    “If we want sustainable impact, we need to work together in a comprehensive manner. This means all of us coming together to look at adolescents as a whole and a facilitator their journeys of growth. For instance, a lot of the times, we get recommendations from young participants of the programs we support. They appreciate being heard, but they also want authority and the agency to take this action forward. They just want other organizations to be facilitators in this process.”
    -Shailja Mehta, Lead, Adolescent Collaborative, Dasra

  • Our definitions of what we mean by ‘impact’ need to change: This is also related to the sector level change of how we define impact and therefore how we want to achieve it. In India, culture and context are critical and cannot be ignored. Both, policy makers and funders need to understand that bringing an ecosystem level change takes time. We need more nuance and understanding around what works and what doesn’t. One program cannot have the same impact in two different ecosystems. This means that one can’t go to 100% of the population with a certain program because it is not suited to everyone.

Plenary: Navigating Digital Career Pathways


  • Harshada Patil, Design Researcher
  • Hosea Lai, Head of Social Impact (APAC), Linkedin
  • Vikrom Mathur, Director, Tandem Research

Moderator: Abhijeet Mehta,
Chief Operating Officer, Quest Alliance

Key Insights:

This panel debated over the challenges and opportunities that digital career platforms today present to the worlds of education, training and employment.

    Digital career platforms present opportunities that go beyond job hunting: The world of work is changing and digital career platforms have a major role to play in these changes. They can help bridge barriers that often keep young people from marginalised backgrounds accessing opportunities. For instance, partnerships between LinkedIn and organizations such as Quest are working to introduce young people to such platforms, to enable them to navigate their career journeys through them. The learning here is that job-seekers face wide-ranging challenges and career platforms need to work hard towards enabling access for a diversely challenged audience of young people.

  • “Many young people I interviewed expressed appreciation for the fact that there was no one in the middle - there is the employer and then there is the employee. There is a direct connect and that increases the level of transparency in terms of expectations, in terms of what the employer is expecting from them and vice versa. That was really empowering for a lot of young adults, especially the ones who were going into their first jobs”.
    - Harshada Desai, Independent Design Research Consultant

  • It is critical that organizations also arm themselves with the awareness of challenges that platforms can mean: From a future of work point of view, organizations need to be thinking about the impact of these technologies on systemic labour market structures. While on the one hand there are positive stories about women who can now work from home, there is also a need to understand that this does not necessarily mean that we are addressing the barriers that prevent them from working outside. This narrative of flexibility that we are building needs to be informed by the challenges that organizations still need to solve for.

Chat: Trends & Implications of the Future of Work in India


  • Sabina Dewan, Executive Director, JustJobs Network
  • Aakash Sethi, Quest Alliance

Key Insights:

Through a panel discussion, this session focused on connecting the dots between desires, aspirations and achievements of women, and barriers that keep them from learning & earning. It uncovered layers of what impacts school to work transitions for young women by understanding gaps in education and skilling.

  • Is technology a panacea, or an enabler? This session raised the concern of how stakeholders need to be focussing on creating more and better jobs and a workforce that can match jobs for the 21st century economy.
    The speaker further emphasised that more than joblessness, the quality of jobs is a concern we need to be addressing. If the quality of jobs remains poor - we will be unable to solve the issues of productivity, low wages and work that does not harness the true potential of people.

  • With respect to AI, a point of concern is the skill bias nature of technology - not the quantum of jobs that it may replace: While low end (unwanted) jobs will remain, high end jobs are going to become technology intensive and will require skilled people. Mid skill level jobs are what will get affected by automation and AI. We need to understand these nuances of AI and its impact on jobs.

    “Technology will not replace our jobs; it will change the nature of work. This impact of technology is not just an urgent problem, it is also far more complicated than we’re realizing. The future of work is now. It is already here and it is changing the job environment as we’re speaking. ”
    - Sabina Dewan, JustJobs Network

Keynote: The Future of Work: Increasing Value of Human Skills

Speaker: Sunit Sinha, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization, Accenture

Key Insights:

  • A combination of factors together are changing the world of work around us. We are in the ‘future of work’ which is being defined by new forms of technologies, demographic shifts, new employment models and workplace hyperconnectivity. This is the future we need to be preparing our youth for. The other major feature of this new world of work is the symbiosis between humans and machines. If we are able to mobilize on the opportunities enabled by human-machine collaborations, our rates of growth can increase exponentially.

  • In this context, humans will have to adapt themselves to develop attributes such as :
    - Capacity for reinvention
    - Collaboration skills
    - Experience and design driven thinking
    - Heightened self-awareness

    “We need to be talking about new employment models and ‘portfolio careers’. What this means is that - we give young people basic functional skills and empower them to build a combination of multiple core skills.”

Moderator: Shalini Menon,
Lead - Capacity Building, Quest Alliance

Plenary: Levers for systems change and reform in Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) for 21st century skills


  • Murugan Vasudevan, Head - South Asia, Social Innovation Group, Cisco
  • Vipul Mittra, Principal Secretary, Govt of Gujarat
  • Ashutosh Tosaria, Director - Youth Programs, Quest Alliance

Key Insights:

  • We need a change map for the ITI ecosystem: The ITI ecosystem evolved with the idea of skilling youth who were not entering the formal education ecosystem and could make livelihoods out of blue-collared jobs. However, given the context we live in, ITI trades now need to be redesigned to meet the needs of both current and future work-places. This struggle is not only limited to curriculum and content - but extends to leadership and pedagogy as well. This is an acknowledged challenge for the government - but also an opportunity for partnerships with organizations such as Quest Alliance.

  • From a systems change point of view, every stakeholder ( the government, NGOs and funders) have a distinct and extremely critical role to play: For instance, we need CSRs to be engaged in initiating changes in the industry / employer networks, we need the government to work with partners that help reach the desired scale of change we need. NGO partners, such as Quest Alliance, have a major role to play in helping young people entering the ecosystem, navigate their dreams, aspirations and realities. Their optimism needs to be retained and channelled through life-skills that allow them to overcome barriers waiting for them outside the training ecosystem. Some immediate measures that all partners can work towards include short-term certification programs ( that allow young people to explore different pathways and solve career related confusions), formalised counselling sessions in each ITI, employment focused government- private sector partnerships and finally, self-employment focused training that converts job-seekers into job-creators.

    “Nearly 15 lakh students enter government ITIs every year. How do we get these young people, often from the socio-economic fringes of the society, have the supportive environment they need to flourish? ITIs are very relevant spaces - they offer an opportunity to young dreams and we need to support these ITIs to help convert these dreams into realities.”
    - Ashutosh Tosaria, Program Director, Quest Alliance

Plenary: Fueling Aspirations and Autonomy: Girls in STEM careers


  • Osama Manzar, Founder, Digital Empowerment Foundation
  • Gargi B. Dasgupta (Ph.D.), Distinguished Engineer, Director, IBM Research India, CTO, IBM India and South Asia

Moderator: Neha Parti,
Lead - Secondary Schools Program, Quest Alliance

Key Insights:

  • STEM as an approach to transacting life-skills can engender skills like creativity and collaboration among students: This is critical, especially from a gender point of view. Indian continues to present a very poor picture with respect to decision-making powers among young women. STEM focused life-skills development becomes important to enable economic agility among young women, who have limited exposure and access to resources to help them exercise agency.

  • Also important to understand STEM as an underlying framework to an education system that is not focused on building a workforce alone: This means adopting an outcome perspective over a ‘STEM as a subject’ perspective, such that we focus on enabling learning that is rooted in developing problem-solving skills across subjects. The outcomes of these efforts must rearticulated to speak the language of holistic learning versus employability skill building.

    “Everything currently is very urban-driven, market-driven, and this is either resulting in migration or in one or two kinds of jobs. That is a major concern if we’re talking about an education system where we’re looking at STEM to bring women into the workforce. This can’t be our only focus - we need to broaden our horizons and perspectives with respect to what we want to achieve and how. We need more women in STEM but we also need to push for collective responsibility of the industry to retain them by demonstrating gender based sensitivity in their functioning.”
    Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation

Moderator: Nikita Bengani,
Lead - Quest Experience Lab, Quest Alliance

Plenary: Artificial Intelligence for learning, earning and well-being

  • Malolan Chetlur, Research Scientist, IBM
  • Amit Malik, Founder & CEO, Innerhour
  • Mahesh Venkeswaran, Chief Growth Officer, KnackApp
  • Abhayraj Naik, Researcher, Consultant, Advisor, Visiting Faculty

Key Insights:

This session examined the role of Artificial Intelligence in supporting school to work transitions , for personalised learning & work pathways. It explored the opportunities, limitations in designing personalised experiences for learners & educators through adaptive learning, actionable data for learning as well as counselling services to enable future trajectories.

  • AI is a ‘part of the solution’ and not the solution to enabling effective school to work transitions: It acknowledged its role in addressing the challenge of understanding learners, content and processes - versus making it a channel for learning. AI, therefore, was identified as technology that can help sector players ask the right questions around the problems they are trying to solve - rather than a solution to the problem.

  • In the context of future of work and learning - AI has the potential to serve as an enabler of scale: Given the scale of challenges across domains ( including learning, mental health) and the cultural barriers to achieving effective outcomes, the panelists established the role of ecosystem players in exploring the role of AI in solving the problem of access - especially for marginalized populations, remote geographies and women.

    “For example, AI based solutions can enable mental health professionals do their work more effectively. Women have a lot of cultural barriers to accessing mental health support. Tech can help them overcome the barrier of mobility and access services they need - while we, as service providers, continue our fight against societal barriers, in the long-term.”
    -Amit Malik, CEO and FOunder, Inner Hour