The alarming rise in skill deficiency in India has affected the overall productivity of the country’s workforce. As per the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in 2018, the output per worker (PPP terms) in India ($18.5K) was 49% lower compared to the world average ($36.6K).
Fortunately, Indians are more than willing to pay for quality education, even more than healthcare. Income elasticity towards expenditure on education-related products is higher. As per the findings in the Economic Survey 2017-18, the income elasticity in relation to PFCE (private final consumption expenditure) for healthcare stood at 1.95, whereas in the case of education-related commodities it was 0.93.
Edtech landscape in India
The education sector in India is undergoing a transformation. Today, there exists a healthy mix of both analog and digital worlds. While there are traditional courses on offer, there is a growing interest in online education or EdTech, it’s often used acronym.
EdTech is an emerging sector at the intersection of technology and education. Tech-enabled solutions and services that redefine how education is imparted to students at all levels comes under EdTech.
EdTech companies are playing a significant role in revolutionising the education sector. Adoption of smart classrooms to online courses, and several other tools is bringing about a paradigm shift.
In the last few years, more than 4,000 EdTech startups have mushroomed and are raising the bar for quality online education. According to a study by KPMG and Google, the opportunity in India’s online education market is estimated to rise to USD 1.96 billion in 2021, from USD 247 million in 2017.
The big question is: Will EdTech help prepare students and upskill professionals for the rapidly changing needs of the job market? Before that, let’s understand the EdTech sector’s key drivers.
Emerging Trends In Edtech
EdTech startups in India can be categorised into the following: the K-12 segment, test prep segment and career guidance. The K-12 segment is the biggest segment and helps students with learning and scoring high grades in school – it is valued at USD 20 billion. The second category helps students in cracking competitive exams, and selecting courses and colleges for admission into top colleges in India and abroad. This segment has a market size of USD 8 billion. The third last category gives career guidance and offers online certification for better professional opportunities. This value of this segment is about USD 1 billion.
The growing popularity of EdTech has provided an impetus to two sub sectors – test preparation, and online certification. Between 2014 to 2019, startups in test prep and online certification startups earned a whopping 88% (USD 1.6 billion) of the total capital inflow in Edtech. These segments are also much in demand in the Indian context, especially because they mirror the traditional climb up the education ladder.
Apart from test prep and online certification, skill development is also gaining popularity. With a growing skill gap in India, students and young professionals are focusing on updating their skills, to keep pace with technological progress.
Successful EdTech startups like CareerAnna, Brainnr and Vedantu employ certified and trained professionals to impart quality education to their users. Career Anna’s skill-up courses have helped over 9,000 professionals in India to secure placements with tech giants like Cognizant, Dell, Wipro and Infosys, among others.
Better Opportunities for Students and Professionals
The Edtech sector not only provides interactive and flexible learning modules for students and professionals; it also prepares them for the job market. To land good jobs, there are three pertinent areas that individuals need to keep in mind:
The right career options based on his/her skills and interests
To help students pick the right career options, EdTech startups utilise machine learning, AI, Neuro Linguistic Programming and other algorithms. Students appear for tests and assessments that help analyse their strengths through multiple choice questions. These questions are based on logic, aptitude, reasoning and abstract questions that identify their unique strengths and skills. Some of the major players in the career guidance and self-discovery space are Mindler, CareerGuide and Stoodnt.
Courses, programs and certifications needed to fill the skill gap
A huge part of the Indian workforce lacks requisite technical skills. There are now several startups that are helping with professional training to bridge this gap. They offer verified courses delivered by industry and academic experts. Students can take basic and advanced training courses on Computer Programming, Data Science, Analytics, Big Data, Mobile Computing, among others. EdTech platforms like Coursera, EdX, Simplilearn, Tynker, Udacity, Pluralsight provide several online courses that skill students and make them ready for the job market.
A big advantage is that these courses not just provide flexibility when it comes to location and time, but also help students develop a unique skill set. Purple Squirrel Eduventures is a unique venture that aims to provide personalised industry training across all streams. This Mumbai-based EdTech startup connects students with industry partners, who then arrange for industry visits, field-trips, workshops, hands-on experiences and projects.
Soft skills are equally important. EdTech companies like CultureAlley and Duolingo are offering relevant courses in this area. The HelloEnglish app for instance provides free courses to improve reading and writing skills in English language.
The right way to apply for a job
Apart from career guidance and skill upgrading, some startups also help students to land jobs directly. Recently, Simplilearn introduced a service called JobAssist that connects students with the best of companies.
The Future is Bright
With EdTech taking off in a big way in the last few years, entrepreneurs today are more willing to experiment with their products. This will further help students and young professionals to bridge the skill gap and leverage better career opportunities. Till now education in India has followed a standard course of action. But as the race to catch up with technology accelerates, it is critical to address the shortcomings. After all, there is urgency for the workforce to continuously upskill themselves to stay relevant.