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Learning Goes Online At Rapid Pace

The online education market could swell six-fold by 2021 as more and more professionals rush to reskill themselves

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Rajesh Narayan Iyer was working with Genpact when he enrolled himself in digital strategies for a business course. Iyer’s aim was to upskill himself.  “The course helped me to structure a business strategy for better usage at work,” said Iyer. He felt the course helped him get recognition at his workplace.

As bots begins doing the work of humans and skills turn redundant, many like Iyer have begun to opt for online certification courses to upskill themselves.

 Sample this: In the last six months, enrolments swelled 300 per cent from 1,500 to 6,000 at the online education startup, the Emeritus Institute of Management.  “Professionals from IT industry are mostly seen looking for upskilling themselves,” said Ashwin Damera, co-founder of Emeritus, a company that has upskilled employees from companies like Microsoft, Genpact and Infosys.

$1.96 billion market

According to a KPMG report, India’s online education market is set to grow to $1.96 billion (Rs 13,039.39 crore) comprising around 9.6 million users by 2021 from a turnover of $247 million (Rs 1,643.22 crore) and around 1.6 million users in 2016. The report adds that reskilling and online certification courses currently account for a significant part of the online education market in the country, with a share of 38 per cent. This is largely driven by a booming Internet adoption rate and increasing fear of pink slips due to redundancy among IT professionals in India.

The threat from automation and robotics seems to have brought cheer for the entire e-learning market. “Earlier, we were registering about 920 learners per month (on an average) but in the last three months we are seeing approximately 1,300 learners enrolling for our courses,” says Diwakar Chittora, chief executive officer, Intellipaat.com, a platform that provides e-learning courses on big data, business intelligence, data science among others.

Another online learning platform, Simplilearn, saw its growth double in the last quarter. At Coursera, a 37 per cent increase in enrolments were noticed during the February - April period, compared to the same period last year. At Jetking, a hardware and networking offline institute, the enrolments in IT-based programmes have increased. The company now predicts that in the next three years 60 per cent of all its classes will move online.

International players are also seeing an increased participation from Indian learners in their global user base. “In artificial intelligence ‘MicroMasters’ programme offered by Columbia University on edX and robotics and the ‘MicroMasters’ programme offered by the University of Pennsylvania on edX, Indian learners make up 15 per cent of all enrolled learners, which is the  second highest country by enrolment in both programmes. The US remains the top market,” says Amit Goyal, country head, edX India, a massive open online course provider. All the online learning platforms BW Businessworld spoke to have posted a noticeable jump in queries and enrolments.


Betting on Upskilling    

Many jobs across sectors are facing a threat from growing automation and changing global headwinds. Undoubtedly, IT is most hurt. The hiring at IT majors —Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant and HCL Technologies — was muted.

In May, industry body Nasscom reiterated the importance of reskilling and asserted that close to 40 per cent of the four million workforce needs to be reskilled in the next five years to stay relevant. Mid-level employees, with more than ten years’ experience are particularly vulnerable and have been treading a thin line trying to reskill themselves to avoid retrenchment.

However, it is not just IT. The overall appetite for traditional jobs is decreasing. According to a World Bank report, automation threatens 69 per cent of the jobs in India. “There will be 20 per cent reduction in entry level jobs due to automation. There will be 40 per cent to 50 per cent job losses in onsite jobs due to visa reforms. This is applicable to large IT firms like Wipro, TCS, Mahindra etc.,” says Shailesh Singh, VP and head, recruitment business, at PeopleStrong, an HR solutions firm. “The need of the hour for every company is to sensitise employees across the board of the need for constant reskilling. Companies need to invest in training the staff on emerging technologies,” says Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president, Nasscom.

Courses in Big Data Hadoop, Python, Data Science, Digital Marketing, Design Thinking, Digital Strategies, Analytics courses are selling like hot cakes, say industry experts. The average cost of these courses range from anywhere between Rs 5,000 to Rs 30,000. “The geographies from where most of the demand is coming include Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Delhi and Kolkata,” says Chittora.

While IT and IT services remain the top sector contributing to the growing e-learning enrolments at the upskilling platforms, interest is also growing in banking, financial services, retail and FMCG. A joint report by enterprise technology learning company, Pluralsight and market research firm KANTAR IMRB, found that about 97 per cent of  IT professionals believe in upgrading their technology skills. As much as 74 per cent of them have taken part in learning programmes in 2016.
 
Industry in Boom

The study found that 47 per cent of the IT industry considers mid-level employees the target audience for gaming based e-learning modules rather than freshers, with close to two-thirds preferring online learning over offline training. Close to 50 per cent cited career growth and better pay as the motivation for setting learning goals.

According to a latest study by KPMG and Google India, the online reskilling and certifications market is mature compared to other categories of online education in India, because of the higher adoption of online channels among target users. The online channel is preferred due to the convenience factor and the shorter duration of courses.

The category is expected to grow rapidly, spurred both  by the need of professionals to continuously learn evolving technologies and demand from new entrants to the workforce. “The current market is largely dominated by B2C players. However, with companies emphasising on continuous employee trainings, the B2B space is becoming important for players in the space,” the study said.


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