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

Key parameters investors look before making a bet in EdTech Startups

Sunitha says the first and foremost for investors is the team. According to her, an idea is only as good as the team that can execute it, and it’s the execution that gives any startup/company the differentiation. After a team, what matters is whether you are building a ‘nice-to-have solution’ which probably only 10 million people will buy it or a ‘must-have solution’ that can cater to the next 300-400 million people. She says people will pay only for a must-have solution, and not for a nice-to-have solution.

Ways to solve key challenges facing skill development and meeting market demand in India

Ramanan says there are many skills that the industry needs which are not being taught in the universities, and there is always this gap between what the industry needs and what the academics offer. That gap needs to be bridged. To do this, Ramanan says the industry has to work very closely with academia to tell them of gaps. Then, academics should integrate those skill development programs into their curriculum or initiatives during the vacations or in partnership with Industrial Training Institutes.

According to Ramanan, skill development becomes an issue in two situations. One, when children drop out from schools, and they need to acquire vital skills for their survival or job sake, and two, when people have acquired a skill, but that skill becomes obsolete due to change in technology and they have to upgrade. He says that while in the former situation ITIs should position them and fill the gap with the skill that is required by the industry, in the latter situation where the industry comes into the picture, the industries should fill the gap in partnership with ITIs, other skill development centres, or with the academics themselves.

Growth opportunities for employability and skilling in India

Sreenivasan says opportunities are immense and we must address all needs across tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 cities. According to him, while IT-enabled services and related technology spaces have leapfrogged the country into the services sector. However, everything else has been left behind. He says there are immense opportunities, for example, in the agriculture industry or other sectors and we need skillsets there as well. According to the CL Educate co-founder, every talk about skilling in education over the last 6-7 years has only been about technology - digital marketing, coding, AI, ML, etc. and he suggests that the focus should be broader across industries, seeing the country need in mind.

What role does quality of content play in skilling and EdTech startups? Do you think the content we have today is good enough or do startups need innovative ways to create more content around meeting this skilling demand?

Answering the above question from the audience, Balamurugan says content is not just the video or the the graphics or the animation that determine the quality of the content, but the way things are delivered in the lecture that makes the learning more meaningful. Balamurugan says for skilling, bringing content from academic perspective will not help the learner, and an EdTech startup that wishes or already is in the upskilling space needs to bring hands-on content from the industry experts. According to him, if they bring the content from real people who know what they are actually delivering, it adds a lot of value for the learner, ensuring better learning outcomes.

What sectors of skilling do you see the most propensity for the user to pay?

Sunitha says skilling is all about getting jobs. Skilling for the sake of skilling won’t make any sense, and nobody is going to pay for it. According to her, any startup that can show a historical record of having placed candidates in well-paying jobs that increase income has a propensity of the user to pay for it.

Amit agrees with what Sunitha said but says he doesn’t think we should be focusing so much on jobs. According to him, it is the fallacy of our country which hampers the culture of entrepreneurship. He feels the word livelihood would be more apt, as it contains both employment opportunities as well as entrepreneurship opportunities.

Balamurugan, however, opines that jobs are the factors that motivate people to go on learning or get more skilled. According to him, without connecting the jobs with the learning or without showing the end result after the skilling process, it is hard for someone to stay motivated after a period of time. So he says connecting the jobs with the learning has always made the person a better learner. Sreenivasan agrees that employability is as important as entrepreneurship.

Community Opinion Poll Data 3

Community Opinion (Poll Data)

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