India’s Employability & Skilling Puzzle: Experts’ Views on Ways to Solve the Problem

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the skilling industry

GUVI’s co-founder and CEO, Balamurugan, says its solutions of teaching technology in vernacular has helped a lot of people during the pandemic to understand the skilling options available to them. According to him, COVID-19 has levelled the ground for people to get access to skilling, and people from tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 cities are now on the same plane.

Community Opinion Poll Data

Community Opinion (Poll Data)

Balamurugan says people can now access information and skilling directly irrespective of the geographies they are based. He says the pandemic has helped them understand the real challenges faced by the people in the skilling sector, especially for people in the remote areas and how to address them.

Skill development landscape and key challenges facing the skilling sector in India

Community Opinion Poll Data 2

Community Opinion (Poll Data)

 Expressing over 20 years of experience in the space, CL Educate’s Sreenivasan lamented the government’s lack of enthusiasm on the private enterprises in the sector. He says private enterprises have capabilities and have acted and delivered in the past, but the government often takes years to fund the projects or payback. This, he says, is the reason why the majority of people who stepped into the sector are now stepping back. “Pipelines need to be laid”, he adds.

Being at the forefront of technology facilitation for over 20 years, Sreenivasan knows what works and what doesn’t in the field. He says technology adoption had been slow and didn’t play a huge role in the education and training space. According to him, COVID-19 is a blessing in disguise, and it had to happen to demolish the conservative mindsets of people.

Taking the example of Germany, where – according to him – 95% are skilled and only 5% progress beyond class 12 to university education, Sreenivasan says we need to look deeper and focus on vocational training and skill-building. According to him, 90% of IITians after graduation say they don’t know why they did engineering. Realizing this, Sreenivasan says there is a dire need for entities like NITI Aayog and others to sit and understand where we really need to tinker the system and what needs doing.

CL Educate has been making lots of contributions to the skilling space. They have skill schools from retail to banking and financial services. The company is now working with AICTE for implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence across universities. CL Educate is also working with universities, linking pipeline between corporates and universities for research, among others.

Talking about their recent initiative aspiration.ai, Sreenivasan says they could train hundreds of teachers to go online within seven days. They handheld teachers for the Delhi government and multiple other governments and universities in India and in South Africa. He says that the platform aspiration.ai uses AWS to facilitate synchronous and asynchronous learning, and in a matter of a week, they have brought education systems online like never before. Sreenivasan claims that 50/55-year-olds who never touched laptops to teach are now technology-oriented ace-educators.

Innovative solutions/startups/emerging models in the skilling and upskilling space in India

Sunitha says Masai School, which takes anyone from zero technical background and trains them to become a well-qualified person to earn a minimum of 5 lakh per annum without any upfront cost, is an interesting one. According to her, this is not a small thing for people coming from tier 2 and 3 cities, and tier 4 colleges. She believes bringing about this entire transformation of someone is amazing. She says that the fact that the student doesn’t have to pay anything upfront and just needs to pay at the time of getting a job ensures economical background doesn’t prove to be a constraint for people to sign up for a job. She is also seeing innovative solutions in companies/startups that provide courses for 2-3 months duration in social media or digital marketing skills etc. which can help people become a freelancer or even join full time.

Amit says English Helper, CL Educate (though not a startup), and Eckovation – an AWS EdStart member & a startup providing coding skills to children – are some of the innovative startups that he sees in the skilling space. He says, “technology will not take away the jobs but the person who knows the new technology, will”. Amit says skilling, reskilling, and upskilling has become paramount in today’s world.

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