Where’s The Upskilling And Reskilling Market Headed?

Where’s The Upskilling And Reskilling Market Headed?

Upskilling and Reskilling are the new buzzwords in the edtech industry and corporate learning. With times changing at light speed, unlearning and relearning have become the norm.

To stay abreast, bridge the skill gap in the work industry, and be on top of your game, professionals today are Upskilling and reskilling as they step up the ladder in their professional journey. 

This need of learning new things for the workforce is pushing the edtech industry to come up with innovative solutions that can cater to the learning needs of the people. Simultaneously, the providers are keen to develop unique and personalised solutions for corporates who offer professional development as a part of the job to the workforce.  

A report by The World Economic Forum on Future of Jobs 2018 predicted that by 2022, 75 million jobs would be displaced by emerging technologies across 20 major economies and 133 million new roles are expected to be created by the same technology advancement. People in the workforce are being pushed to upskill to meet the demands of the industrial revolution. With technology taking centre stage, job roles will be redefined, and the workforce has to go under training to be relevant when the need arises.

Today's industries are witnessing a massive shift from conventional to hybrid or online models. Moving to online services means that today's workforce needs to have additional skill sets that ensure knowledge, training, and proficiency in technical and digital skills. But in reality, the workforce requires Upskilling and Reskilling to meet the demands of the changing business models. As per McKinsey, 87% of CEOs report noticing skill gaps in their employees. In many cases, corporate leadership has had to take steps to reskill workers to better meet the company's needs.

Predicted by a report titled "Investing for Impact: Education, Skills and EdTech", the Indian online education market is poised to become a $313 billion market by 2030. The report also highlights reskilling and Upskilling as one of the top ten disruptive investment areas with a flow of massive funds. 

Education and skilling are mandatory to build effective human capital, and technological solutions can set the motion to make it happen. A 2019-2020 survey by Udemy reported that 92% of Indian employees admit to the skill gap present in the workforce and feel the need to Upskill to stay relevant. With the second-highest employment potential, India can boost the economy with investments in the skilling and training market. This will turn the potential into reality. The 2021 World Economic Forum report estimates that substantial investments in Upskilling can cause the Indian economy to realise potential gains of up to INR 570 billion in the next decade. By 2030, the country can add a whopping 2.3 million jobs. 

Key players in the sector have been in the limelight recently. Scaler Academy, an Upskilling provider, was launched in 2019, and 95 per cent of learners on the platform have been placed in companies including Amazon and Google. in terms of salaries, the average compensation stands at INR 18.77 lakh per annum while the highest salary offered to a Scaler learner was a whopping INR 1.5 crore per annum! 

The platform recently launched a unique subscription-based Upskilling program for tech professionals called 'Forever' that assures lifelong learning and career growth to working professionals through the platform's Upskilling programs.

Masai School is another name in the Upskilling industry that has made rounds for performance ever since its launch. It started in June 2019 with a pilot batch of 10 students, with a 100 per cent placement rate. The second batch graduated in January 2020, with a placement rate of 87.1 and the highest package at INR 15 LPA. The third batch started in October 2019 and graduated in April 2020, with over 85 per cent of students grabbing a job with the highest package up to INR 9 LPA. 

"Year after year, India produces lakhs of graduates, of which a very small percentage are actually employable. On the other hand, the burgeoning industry struggles to find relevant entry-level talent, which clearly implies that the root of the problem lies in the existing education system. We are building Masai with a clear focus to enable youth to launch careers in a field of their choice." - Prateek Shukla, Co-founder and CEO, Masai School.

Masai offers job-ready courses curated by industry leaders. The platform enables students to develop relevant skills and build successful careers out of them. As of now, the platform provides varied courses to tech aspirants in full-stack web and android applications development. Students have to go through a seven-month-long boot camp where they are taught and trained in app development. 

Another edtech platform, Newton School, was in the news for its unique pay after placement model. Students on the platform can learn, Upskill and do not have to worry about the fee unless they get a job with an annual pay package of a minimum of INR 6 LPA. 

This Bengaluru based startup was founded in 2019 by Nishant Chandra and Siddharth Maheshwari. Students have to undergo six-month online courses and train to be highly skilled software developers or full-stack software developers, among many other roles. 

"While software engineering is one of the highest paying and fastest-growing career paths, access to quality software development training remains limited to students of few top colleges. With our unique pay after placement online platform, we are democratising software development training and allowing people to cross financial and location barriers to achieving their dream of becoming a great software developer.- Siddharth Maheshwari, Co-founder, Newton School

Here's an inspiring story of Rohit Kushwaha, the son of an auto driver from a remote village in Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand, who got placed in one of the top startups of India because of Newton School. 

upGrad is a renowned player in the online education space. Their recent funding round in August 2021 of $40 million, led by Temasek Holdings, IFC, and IIFL, led to the company's valuation over $1.2 billion and placing it as the third unicorn in the Edtech space. To help professionals and students be job-ready and skill equipped, upGrad has tied up with world-class institutes to facilitate access to career-oriented courses and assist Indian students and working professionals who want to upgrade their careers. upGrad is a Mumbai-based startup founded in 2015 by Ronnie Screwvala, Mayank Kumar, Phalgun Kompalli, and Ravijot Chugh.

The online skilling market in India is driven by the needs of a large working population looking for industry-relevant skills, better job opportunities and meet the cut-throat competition in the market. With online skilling opportunities, students and working professionals have a chance to stay relevant and be equipped with the required skills in this fast-changing environment.

To understand more about the reskilling and Upskilling market, read further about:

  • The Need of Upskilling and Reskilling
  • Workforce Shift and The Upcoming Trends
  • The Key Element in the Future of Upskilling 
  • The Challenges Ahead 

The Need of Upskilling and Reskilling 

In the wake of the pandemic, conventional jobs shifted to remote jobs, and technology played a huge role. For instance, the education industry witnessed a massive change in teaching and learning. Educators had to learn to use technology and train students to do the same. PWC Global shared findings from their global survey on Upskilling: hopes and fears 2021. The results state that 40% of workers successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic, 77% are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain, and 74% see training as a matter of personal responsibility.

Here's why Upskilling and reskilling are the need of the hour:

To tap on better opportunities and prepare for the future: Traditional business models across industries are being redefined with new-age technologies in action. Employees are expected to be trained in the new age technology commonly used at the core of new business models, and this need is a crucial reason why employees need to reskill themselves. As training and learning, relevant skills is essential for the students out of college, a shift in the attitude of working professionals is required. Reskilling is ideal for professionals at all levels. In many cases, corporates take care of their workforce's skill needs. Employees seek company-run training programs to learn new skills, gain an edge and stay competitive. Enterprise

Emerging Technologies are Redefining the Work: Disruptive technologies such as data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and RPA set a fresh narrative on how business models work. From conventional ways to new methods, technology has a role in almost everything, including customer engagement, operations, sales, etc. Artificial intelligence is being used for employees and customer assistance. The number of organisations using and depending on these advanced technologies is increasing, creating a need for the businesses to respond effectively to stay relevant competitive and required measures for future skill and talent management. 

Data-Driven Culture: Data-driven organisations will be the thing in the future. Organisations backed by data are good at making decisions with evidence in one hand. A McKinsey survey on how customer analytics boosts corporate performance reveals that data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as possible to retain those customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable. Big enterprises are already using data and analytics in their business strategy. This allows them to have the edge over their competitors as they use data-driven optimisation as a part of their regular operations. 

Changing Job Requirements: Today's jobs looked way different a decade ago and will indeed look a lot different than now in the next five years. Technology's dynamic and pervasive nature will keep redefining the job roles, and this is why we must make upskill and reskill a part of the routine. The change in automation, marketplace and job descriptions is no more static. It is getting evolved at a fast pace. A report by Gartner showed that 33% of the skills listed in a typical job posting in 2017 are no longer necessary. The report also highlights that job posts now require 10% more skills than previous years. Employers today are looking for a workforce with a different skill set than what they were searching for less than a decade ago. 

To Bridge Talent and Skills Gaps: learning new skills is not only for people seeking new jobs. It's equally essential for professionals on the fly. Remote working came as one key challenge amid the pandemic. It also opened many opportunities for people to take it in good spirits and face the associated challenges with appropriate solutions and new learning. As artificial intelligence becomes more important, corporates are all set to equip their workforce with new roles and redefined responsibilities. They will make it happen by making Upskilling and reskilling a part of their workforce's job responsibilities. 

Workforce Shift and Upcoming Trends

Pandemic induced distance shift and remote work are going to become the norm. Many companies are now shifting significant parts of their business online. Big names like Amazon have embraced the work from home culture and has made it a part of their work culture for the long run. Companies are also investing in Upskilling and reskilling their employees to ensure that they don't have to rehire people with needed skills in the coming future. This survey results from The Harris Poll for Express Employment Professionals revealed that most people in hiring positions would invest in Upskilling current employees than hiring new people. Larger companies were more likely to say they would offer reskilling opportunities.

Since everything is being done for and due to tech advancements, it's essential to understand the upcoming trends for reskilling and upskilling that define the course of actions for today's action and preparedness for tomorrow.

Digital and Interpersonal Skills

Technical skills are a must to thrive today, and they're going to be the primary requirement in the times to come. McKinsey's report on Skill Shift reveals that digital skills make up 70% of the fastest-growing skills worldwide. At the same time, interpersonal skills are equally important. Demand for technical skills like coding and interactive skills is also expected to scale up to over 50 per cent, while soft skills will grow over 30 per cent. Widespread adoption of technology will be used by people working together. Interpersonal skills will be as crucial as technology as they are prime for enhanced efficiency, collaboration and productivity. 

Learning Analytics

This is relatively new to the world of learning professionals. Every industry is gathering data. However, the data is highly unstructured and in varied formats. To use this vast data, learning analytics plays an important role. It transforms mixed data into actionable insights. The technology is greatly optimised in edtech, improving the education system by bringing customised learning for students.   


Microlearning has been making the news over the past few years, and it will undoubtedly take attention in the years to come. As a part of the learning strategy, microlearning can be an effective way to Upskill and reskill the existing workforce. Regardless of the organisational size, microlearning can be a great option as it focuses on a specific objective and eradicates unnecessary factors. Microlearning is a practical approach to train the workforce, can benefit learners before a virtual training session, or be used as a revision or follow up of the learnings after the formal training and live sessions. Another factor that makes it a fit is its ability to be administered in varied formats like videos, podcasts, puzzles, gamification and more. 

Social learning for Cost-efficiency 

Cost efficiency has always been a significant factor in upskilling and reskilling employees. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced business leaders to look at the balance of investments and affordability. HR leaders across the globe are identifying learning as a priority but looking at it with constraints to budget, affordability, and qualitative learning for the workforce is a priority. Social learning is one solution that can meet all the upcoming Upskilling and reskilling needs of employees. Individuals from different locations come together and share learning and development to help each other grow. This could also take varied forms like a social forum or online discussion. -For companies with a global presence and people working around the globe, social learning can change the game of Upskilling and reskilling. 

The Key Element In The Future Of Upskilling: Mentoring

Mentoring has always been used as a form of training. Mentoring is when a seasoned employee takes younger candidates under their wing and trains them in their area of specialisation. The in-house approach of mentoring within organisations is a common practice. However, with changing job roles and remote working, mentor-led and career-focused partnerships are the way to go. Professionals working under mentors get to learn from real-life experiences. Mentees get a boost as they access a wealth of resources, knowledge, guidance and expertise.  

Mentorship offers tremendous value to mentees, covering critical aspects of their growth like optimism, new perspectives to their skillset, better communication, and constant feedback. Mentees get to rely on someone who cares about their professional development and career growth. 

A survey by Springboard highlights that 62.7 per cent of professionals prefer taking an upskilling program that gives them access to a mentor. In comparison, 87.9 per cent of the respondents thought that working under a seasoned mentor can profoundly boost their shot at success and career trajectory. Also, 79.4 per cent felt that one of the best ways to transition to a new position in a different industry is with the help of a mentor.

While mentors can impact the career trajectory of young professionals, reverse mentoring can help the mentors too. Mentors who might not be digital-savvy can learn hacks, shortcuts, new digital tools, social media and other applications that can help them with the advancing technologies.

With remote working in motion, digital mentoring has come to the surface in the wake of the pandemic. Nothing beats the classic face to face mentorship, but since work has shifted to virtual mediums, digital mentoring has been in the limelight lately. Acceleration and adoption of digital tools and advancing technologies have made it possible for mentors to monitor and conduct mentoring sessions efficiently. Digital Mentorship creates room for meaningful conversations, navigating through challenging situations and working towards career development and personal growth.

Online education platform upGrad recently launched a new vertical, "upGrad Mentorship", that offers a range of personalised career solutions to bridge the gap between professionals and their desired professional opportunities. The solutions offered cover resume reviewing, building LinkedIn profiles, career guidance, domain interview preparation, job search strategy, HR interview preparation etc. all services offered are in partnership with industry experts.

"The market is constantly evolving and is creating skill pressure on the current workforce and also on freshers who are looking to join the work ecosystem. This is a point where appropriate career guidance and technical know-how can make or break their chance of receiving the best of career opportunities. Drawing insights from market research, we have come up with upGrad Mentorship—a one-stop solution to guide learners through a personalised job strategy and engage them meaningfully in conversations and activities which, in turn, can prepare them for job interviews," said Mayank Kumar, co-founder and managing director of upGrad.

Working professionals face a wide range of challenges such as limited or no professional growth, making a career transition, unable to find suitable roles, cracking interviews, identifying the right skill set to acquire, and more. To stay a step ahead in today's highly competitive market, working professionals are working on their skill sets and ensuring they meet the time's demands. Employers investing in the professional development of their employees get an edge over those who don't. Research from LinkedIn shows that 94% of workers would stay longer if their company invested in their learning. Mentoring is also one of the most cost-effective ways to work on the professional development of the employee base and produces some of the best ROI.

The Challenges Ahead

Performance Mapping

While companies invest in Upskilling and reskilling their employee base, performance mapping still comes off as a hurdle. It's still a challenge for companies to identify their employees' skills and the ones they need training on. Many companies fail to see positive outcomes despite deploying training programs. The underlying performance challenges may still exist. This challenge needs solutions on the organisational level and the means deployed for skill training. The skilling initiatives must begin with organisational goals in mind. Further training can be based on which skills your organisation needs immediately and how those needs might change in the coming few years?

Life of Technical Skills

Technical skills change rapidly. The industry standards for technologies and processes shift more quickly than any education system can turn out leaders. A survey by Prudential reveals that only 46% of working professionals think their skills will make them competitive in the coming ten years. Unless the skill providers speed up their initiatives or programs' design, development and deployment, organisations and professionals will struggle to find relevancy in jobs and employees relating to skill levels with the dynamic nature of technology and related jobs. 

Training Delivery

Upskilling and reskilling are most successful when it happens on the job, and employees are more likely to understand and retain it with immediate application of the learning. Learners must connect with their learning/training programs through their work responsibilities to derive outcomes from skilling. The best way to make it happen is to integrate their skill training into their regular job responsibilities. Including microlearning and mobile learning are great ways to provide on-the-job learning opportunities for the workforce. Mobile learning and bite-sized learning are great as they are easily accessible, content-rich, focus on the applicability of the skills, and provide relevant learning content. 

Disconnect from Career Progression

Employees value training as it can help them advance their careers. However, they tend to feel a disconnect if it doesn't reflect in their compensation or overall growth in their career. Training must not be just for keeping the workforce upbeat but also help the employees in their long term career objectives. To make training fruitful, it is prime that learning links the outcomes and personalised training paths define the process. Setting up follow-up sessions to understand how employees use and feel about their newly acquired knowledge on the job can help.

The upcoming generation that will enter the workforce and define the economy's future meeting the industry's demands must be skilled on various levels. Skill training must be a part of the curriculum in schools, colleges, and organisations beginning from the formal education years. The focus should not be to make people job-ready, but rather the skill training programs should include soft skills and tech skills combined to build a thriving human capital. Developing training courses and certification programmes that correspond to in-demand skills required today can help. The task falls on learning and development groups in private and government sectors to promote continuous learning.  

Share your take on the upskilling and reskilling market with us in the comment section below. 

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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