Volume 5: Impact of EdTech In Changing How India Learns & Skills

In Sep 2019 Zomato laid off 541 employees on the account of automation improving the speed of service resolution.

In Nov 2019 Cognizant removed employees from their current roles, and planned to reskill and redeploy a fraction, leading to a net reduction of about 5,000 to 7,000 jobs.

These are just two of the many instances of job redundancies that happened across India this year. The underlying reason for all has been the advent of newer technologies that brought about obsolescence of existing roles. Yet, these new-age technologies like Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Product Management etc. are yet to find their place in the current curriculum of most colleges and universities across India.

This is the demand-supply gap where edtech companies have carved their niche, because online education has an upper hand over an offline set-up, when it comes to the convenience of providing relevant education, at scale.

In India, we have 150 million people in the 18 to 24 age group. Out of those, 35 million are going to colleges. So, for maybe every three of us who are from India, there are nine others who are not going to colleges. The access is about 20 – 25% right now, whereas in the UK, the Gross Enrolment Ratio is at about 80%+ and in the US it is at about 70%+. The localisation of physical colleges and the restrictions they have in the number of students they can train, tends to limit the dissemination of education to the masses. However, edtech companies can make education accessible to anyone in India, as long as they are connected to the internet on a smart device. Thus, a learner can get certifications from national and international institutes like IIT Madras, IIIT Bangalore, Duke CE, Liverpool John Moores University, etc. from the remotest corners of the globe.

In case of traditional academic institutes, more often than not, the quality of education gets compromised due to their adherence to courses and curriculums developed years back. As per data from the 2011 census and the 68th round of the National Sample Survey, an estimated 10.4 crore workers will enter the labour market and require skill training by 2022. Additionally, 29.8 crore of the existing workforce will require additional skill training during this period. These numbers are staggering. With new trends emerging rapidly, it is pertinent to train the workforce with the right skill sets, thereby mandating a constant revision and updation of course material – something the traditional universities do not undertake due to process stringency. Online platforms like upGrad, who build their entire curriculum and content inhouse, update 30% of their course material year on year. Plus, live sessions with subject matter experts, impart industry-relevant knowledge to learners.

An underlying truth is that working professionals with a steady source of income are unwilling to quit their jobs to pursue higher education because of the monetary responsibilities they undertake. Online education brings in affordability on the account of two factors. Firstly, by offering courses at a lower cost and secondly, by saving the opportunity cost of leaving one’s job. Simply by virtue of the fact that online programs can be accessed anywhere, anytime, professionals can learn while they continue working, i.e, while maintaining a steady source of income. This is impossible when it comes to offline programs. A post graduate course in India would cost an average of anywhere between INR 5-6 Lakhs at an offline setting. However, at upGrad, we price our online courses at an average of INR 2.5 Lakhs. When you look at the ROI, it’s massive – we have seen learners receiving up to 350% hikes in their salaries post program completion.

About the Author

An education maven and accomplished entrepreneur, Mayank Kumar is one of the sharpest minds leading the Edtech revolution in India. Mayank co-founded the Edtech company upGrad, along with Ronnie Screwvala, Ravijot Chugh and Prabhav Phalgun in early 2015, with the aim of providing formal education online. In a short span of 4 years, upGrad onboarded over 15K paid learners and impacted more than 363K individuals globally, making it India’s largest online higher education company. He is currently serving as the Managing Director at upGrad.

Before upGrad, Mayank was the Vice President – Education at Bertelsmann, Europe’s largest media and education conglomerate. Prior to joining Bertelsmann, Mayank served as a Senior Principal at The Parthenon Group and has also worked as a Business Analyst at Tata Strategic Management Group.