With universities going online and the growing interest of the Indian government on online education, there has been a significant increase in the adoption of e-learning. Furthermore, as the future of work is shifting towards more data and information-driven, there is an urgent requirement for trained talent to build these capabilities.
And thus, it must be ensured that the supply chain of skills is built on a robust foundation of an aligned learning ecosystem, which can foster new-age skills. This raises a very pertinent question — how does the edtech space release this dynamic into a sustainable model? To understand it better, Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Vikas Gupta, the managing director of Wiley India, India’s skill assessment and recruitment solution.
Wiley India has recently partnered with IIT Roorkee to launch India’s first-of-its-kind AI in banking online programme for recently-graduated professionals who aspire to build a career in artificial intelligence and analytics in the banking domain. The programme provides an opportunity for professionals to learn about real-time banking problems. Along with that, the programme also focuses on data privacy and governance, forecasting and anomaly detection, asset and wealth management, trading and risk management, fraud detection.
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According to Gupta, the pandemic outbreak has urged a shift towards digital and virtual platforms, even in the banking sector. Banks are now on-boarding digital technologies like artificial intelligence for creating contactless banking and payments. And, therefore, there is going to be an increase in demand for banking and financial professionals who will be equipped with AI and Analytics.
How is the edtech industry syncing with the new industry requirements of skills due to crisis?
Industry 4.0 is no more looking for a pure vanilla BTech or MBA degree. In fact, the need of the hour is the domain experts who are billable from day one. This can be possible through conceptual and contextual-based learning to prepare domain experts who are fruitful to the organisation since its inception. Organisations are now demanding micro-credentials or dual degrees integrated with industry credentials such as STEM Masters, which is a departure from traditional learning models.
Alongside it is also high time to bridge the longstanding industry-academia gap through the integration of industry-relevant digital skills into mainstream education. And for this, the students need to be equipped with skills that make them ready for the current industrial revolution.
We at WileyNXT are also working towards bridging this gap. Rather than having the industry start their talent development journey at the point of employee induction, we constituted an industry innovation council with 50+ global corporate leaders to identify the skills they need for entry-level and experienced professionals. And, then, in partnership with colleges and universities, we have started building a day one job-ready workforce which is trained in functional, behavioural, and technical skills. This model supports the universities to shorten the lag time required to adapt curriculums, conduct assessments with individualised data and insights, and deliver micro-credentials relevant to a personalised career specification.
Furthermore, with enhanced learner experience becoming the fulcrum of the edtech industry, personalisation has become a critical requirement today. The ability to work with teams and collaborate within an organisation has also become a vital business skill. Technology-enabled social collaborations and teamwork through video and gamification are also gaining popularity to solve problems on a real-time basis. For instance, project-based learning with live business cases through virtual teams of learners helps build trust and team skills among professionals. Also, to bridge the gap, a two-way feedback approach is always efficient in understanding the shortcoming in the delivery methodology of the mentors.
What is the importance of upskilling through online learning? How have the situations changed amid COVID?
A skilled and talented workforce is mandatory for the changing future of work, technological disruption, and solving real-time business needs. The industry out there is looking out to hire graduates who are ahead of the curve in this decade. However, one of the biggest struggles right now is that the trainability and employability of fresh graduates are weak. Online upskilling helps in filling the gap rapidly as students can learn the required skills simultaneously with university education. The pandemic has brought with itself the unprecedented events for which our industry was not prepared.
Today corporates are posed with challenges that are morphing the skilling industry landscape at a pace that could never have been imagined, such as challenges in online boarding due to lack of infrastructure while working from home. Also, the needs of the employees have dramatically changed because of economic slowdown, future deployment, and a freeze in hiring.
Furthermore, there has been a rise in the gig economy. With the current working model, corporates want to hire people on a contract basis who have specialised skills and can deliver on time from any location. This can be done without changing/putting extra load on the existing infrastructure.
How can STEM education be encouraged more among young professionals?
Being a part of the globalised world, we have observed science and technology playing a crucial role in shaping the future of our country. To reap the benefits of technology-led innovation for a developing country like ours, there is a need to develop and grow human expertise in the inter-related fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — STEM.
STEM education has a significant impact on almost all jobs, careers, and society. The National Science Foundation of USA prophesied that nearly 80% of the jobs created in this decade would need skills in technology, science, or math. However, in India, STEM education is a relatively new term and has received considerable attention rather late. This calls for academic program and curriculum transformation. The rote learning in the current curriculum is inadequate to meet the demands of a technologically inclined society as well as learners. Adoption of an instructor-led learning model to make learning more interactive, reactive, and collaborative is a must. Furthermore, project-based assignments induced by real-world problems, case studies, will stimulate critical thinking and analytical skills.
For this, we require the participation of multiple stakeholders, who are willing to nurture a favourable ecosystem for learners. The government should consider establishing global partnerships with countries that have developed STEM expertise. This will pave the way for knowledge exchange and skill development. Furthermore, as the jobs are becoming super-specialised, the demand for corporates is shifting towards technologically inclined roles that create a requirement for STEM education to fill in the existing skill gap.
WileyNXT is collaborating with many universities where the WileyNXT curriculum is integrated into their undergraduate programmes to empower students with STEM certifications while they earn their degree.
How big is the gap between college education and job readiness? And what can be done to bridge the gap?
As the future of jobs is witnessing a paradigm shift, digital skills are going to drive future job roles. 21st-century skills like AI, IoT, robotics, cybersecurity, data science, and more, are going to be the job catalyst. As per a report published by EY and FICCI India, 65% of the children in today’s primary schools will land jobs that are not even in existence as of now.
The digital workflow transformation and automation of processes will also see a surge in demand for specialised temporary workers, giving rise to gig staffing. In addition to this, soft skills will also play a crucial role in the organisations as they have a significant impact on an organisation’s ability to function efficiently.
Having said that, this advanced pace of digitalisation and automation of processes has given rise to a new perspective, stressing on the need for industry-academia collaboration to equip the future with the right skills. The industry demand is heavily skewed for a skilled, job-ready workforce that is not available in the pool of graduates passing out of our education system. According to data, less than 50% of our graduating youth are employable.
To bridge the gap, universities can no longer strive in silos. The delivery and acknowledgement of content by industry must be equally powerful. This calls for critical investments from the university, apart from partnering with the industry to co-create curriculum. It will be required to develop contextual learning in the form of business problems, case studies, simulated project tools, and infrastructure for hands-on learning and mentoring.
This can be built rapidly with a collaborative approach. With a bridge education solution, the new age workforce that emerges out of the ecosystem has widespread industry acceptability. Through such bridge education, university partners will be able to attract better quality students, deliver skills in demand by the industry, and delimit their geographical reach by leveraging technology to scale.