As technology progresses at an unprecedented pace, the need to upgarde oneself to stay professionally relevant is more important now than ever before.
This need has come as a boon for edtech companies in India who provide creatively crafted courses on a diverse range of fields.
The first two quarters of 2018 saw an investment of over USD 10 million for Indian edtech companies that provide skill-upgrading courses for working professionals.
A study on online education in India by KPMG India and Google in May 2017 mentioned that reskilling and online certification is the largest category in the domain in India today and is valued at USD 93 million. By 2021, the Edtech industry is expected grow to USD 1.96 billion with 9.6 million users.
The market for certification of reskilling and upskilling working professionals is expected to grow to USD 463 million by 2021. While the courses offered range from media, software development, management, robotics, architecture, marketing among others, the current hits seem those on AI and data sciences.
“In the current scenario, a company like TCS or JP Morgan prefer to call themselves a tech company. These are services and banks, similarly every company is moving towards being technology-based and are becoming tech companies. With this, the employees have to keep up with the trend and keep upskilling themselves,” said Krishna Kumar, chairman of the EdTech Committee under Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).
Kumar, who is also the founder and CEO of Simplilearn, an edtech for professionals, said that people mostly between 30-40 years are taking up these courses. “These are the people who have spent some time in the field and know that if they don’t upskill they will grow outdated. While we completed courses with 1 million people, in the next 2-3 years we plan to do courses with a million more,” added Kumar.
The online edtech courses start from as low as Rs 700 and go upto Rs 2.5 lakhs. While the same courses are available for a few thousands to Rs 70 thousand with different companies, it is on the user to decide what type of course they choose. For example – some edtech companies have tied up with IIT’s and BITS for their courses, some are getting their courses designed through industry experts. While most of the companies are focussed on upskilling in the course format, there are some who have taken a step ahead and provide training using AI, VR, simulation and gaming.
Simulanis, a Delhi-based company uses AR and VR tech to upskill employees in pharmaceuticals, automobiles and oil and gas industries by creating 3D virtual worlds of industrial shop floors or any other environment and develop interactive training modules where they gamify the procedure.
Another company, Knolskape uses gamification and simulation products that work on the laptops which are used to upskill the understanding of business. “We believe gaming and simulation work much better on the employee’s understanding. When some one gives a lecture or conducts a workshop, there is a question on how much the person is taking away and applying it to his work place. With gamification and simulation, the percentage of taking that knowledge is huge,” said Rajiv Jayaraman, founder and CEO of Knolskape. Other notable edtech for professionals in India include UpGrad, Edureka, Emeritus and Aeon Learning.
In the first half of 2018, CareerAnna, a platform that brings together young aspirants and successful professionals, received a seed funding of USD 480 thousand; Edureka received and early stage funding of USD 2 million; AEON Learning received a Series B funding of USD 3.2 million and iNurture received series C funding of USD 4.3 million.
Experts believe that there is a gap in the university courses and industrial needs in the technology sector and the edtech companies are filling the void.
“There are no structured courses offered by Indian universities on the skill sets and cutting-edge technology like AI, data science or even blockchain technology. These are the technologies that the industry demands, everyone is talking about, so the need to upskill in these is increasing,” said Dr R Raman, dean, faculty of Management, Symbiosis International University.
He also informed about the Indian Government’s portal Swayam, where there are free online courses available for learning and upskilling, has its limitations in the content and the courses are not creatively designed.
Despite their benefits, the courses from edtech companies have their drawbacks.
“The edtech companies can give certificates according to the rules, but their diplomas and degrees are not valid. While these companies are providing courses according to industry needs, the importance of universities and their way of teaching cannot go away. Having said that, the universities also have to start providing online courses or structure the courses that is online and offline,” said Raman. With edtech companies really gaining traction due to the content they provide, they too have to update courses every six months. “In AI, the technology that was last year, will not be seen now. Also, the whole purpose of edtech is to upskill to current need. So, the companies have to work in that direction and update at short intervals,” concluded Kumar.