The power that individuals and businesses have to change the world will be in the spotlight this week as the World Economic Forum holds its 50th Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Surrounded by the snowy Alps, thousands of thought leaders from around the world will gather to discuss some of the biggest issues we face – from environmental challenges to the technological trends that are reshaping our lives. They’ll also debate the changing role of companies in society and how best to manage and measure it.
At the heart of discussions will be the idea that we all have a responsibility to create a more socially conscious economic environment – one where the wellbeing of all is put before the profits of a few.
The business leaders are gathering at a pivotal moment for the planet. Figures including Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and naturalist Sir David Attenborough have called for more global coordination and better responses to the climate crisis, while Earth is experiencing its hottest years since records began.
A different path?
Add to that Business 4.0, a wave of technological developments bringing wide–ranging changes to the ways we work, and it’s hard to imagine a point in recent history where so much was at stake – and there was so much to gain. The ideas discussed in Switzerland will help inform the solutions to a better future, and turn these risks into opportunities.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) will join chief executives and chairs of other companies, as well as political leaders, technology pioneers, academics, leaders of NGOs and other stakeholders in Davos, to lead the discussions and forge a path forward.
The values embodied by this year’s theme, “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”, align with those set out by Jamsetji Tata, the founder of TCS’ parent company, the Tata Group, who wrote:
“In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in our business, but it is, in fact, the very purpose of its existence.”
The company has long been guided by the principle of “Impact through Empowerment” and it aims to deliver measurable outcomes using a long–term sustained effort. This is evident in the Ignite My Future in School (IMFIS) initiative, created in 2017 to prepare students for the new digital economy.
While it’s widely recognized that the economy of today and tomorrow requires a new set of skills – including collecting and analyzing data, as well as the ability to find patterns, build models and develop algorithms – these aren’t being fostered in schools.
Fewer than 1.5 million of 50 million students in the US K–12 education system currently learn any form of computing skills and just 10,000 of 3.1 million teachers are equipped to teach computing concepts.
Through IMFIS, TCS helps provide schools and teachers with no–cost, best–in–class professional development and computational thinking resources, aligned to national standards and frameworks. It hopes to foster the skills needed and open doors to future careers in all sectors, by empowering America’s educators.
The work of tomorrow
The initiative’s findings chime with those of the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, which predicts major disruptions to labour markets and skills shortages as new categories of jobs emerge and displace others.
People and technology can coexist in a mutually beneficial ecosystem, according to N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Sons, and Roopa Purushothaman, Tata’s Chief Economist. They foresee a “bridgital” approach, in which AI and automation are human aids.
And that is what TCS’ initiatives seek to prepare people for: bright futures in which creativity combines with education and digital skills to sow the seeds for successful and long–lasting careers.
Since its launch, IMFIS has helped more than 10,000 teachers and nearly 600,000 students across almost 100 school districts. By 2021, the goal is to have reached 20,000 teachers and one million students.
“The world is technology,” says Maryland teacher Shelby Quarles, who participated in the program. “This is a way for our children to learn, be effective and think outside of the box.”
TCS is a Strategic Partner to the World Economic Forum and this year is the tenth consecutive year that the company will have a presence at the Annual Meeting in Davos. You can follow our participation and thoughts on our rolling live blog.