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In Davos this year, the Future of Work was an important track. Specifically discussed were reskilling and automation. Here are some numbers as stated by the World Economic Forum:

According to the WEF, the world is facing a reskilling emergency. The situation is no different in India. According to a NASSCOM report, about 40 per cent of India's total workforce must be reskilled over the next five years to cope with emerging trends such as AI, IoT, machine learning and blockchain. It is here that edtech startups like Bangalore-based, Masai School, that teaches coding will play an important role. In a conversation with Co-founder and CEO, Prateek Shukla, we speak about the needs for reskilling in India, how are edtech startups bringing new models and the redundancy of existing roles. Read on for a deep dive.

What according to you is the future of skilling and reskilling in India?

The latest World Economic Forum data suggests that, by 2022, 42 percent of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change. With the world's largest youth population and more than 50 percent of its population in the working age, skills development is critical for India to ensure overall growth and development. The change ushered by technology is creating new job opportunities while highlighting the skill deficit that exists in the country. Hence, now more than ever, there is greater emphasis and need of skilling and reskilling in India.

On the other hand, the internet revolution has made access to information an easy task to people living in smaller towns and Tier 2, 3 cities. With this information, we see rising aspiration levels and the want for a better quality life. Thanks to this positive phenomenon, those in tier 2 & 3 cities in India are on a quest for better education and job opportunities. For professionals, a better job opportunity means upskilling, while for students; the need to skill arises from the gap present in our education system.

Today, we see that both the government of India and private companies are showing interest and initiative in skilling and reskilling individuals. While this is a good start to the process, more proactive action is required to ensure that even an individual at the grass-root level has access to these skilling initiatives.

What are the gaps that exist in technical education today? Does a learner get better education from a premier institute versus any other? (For example IIT v/s any other technical education institute)

 

Based on our experience as co-founders and the students who walk into Masai School, we can definitely feel the difference in the technical education imparted.  Specifically, with more than 10,000 engineering colleges in India, the quality of education has taken a major hit. We know of instances where a person has graduated with a computer science engineering degree without ever writing a line of code.

Graduate programmes at premier institutes provide learners with problem-solving skills, versus other engineering colleges which provide textbook knowledge. The end result is the creation of a workforce which does not meet the skill requirement of the industry. Whether a premier institute or not, the biggest gap which exists in the education system is the fact that the course curriculum remains unchanged for years, despite the evolving technology and industry requirements.

Is it the access to quality education or the education system in itself being the gap?

The education system and the access to education have both played an equal role in creating a skill gap and in turn a workforce not fit to be employed.

As mentioned in the previous question, the current education system is not evolving according to technological developments or even the evolving needs of future employers. Most often than not, the curriculum is dated and does not prepare the student for the future. When a student steps into the professional world, he/she would not be equipped with the relevant skills to perform on the job. The objective of education is to eventually ensure that a learner is moulded to be absorbed into the workforce. However, if education cannot provide this, then the system is in question.

Prateek addressing students.

The second challenge is access to quality education. Most often than not, a student’s financial background can be the barrier to quality education. Even if they are able to get education loans, there is no guarantee of employment or the right skills after graduation. To encourage skill over degree without the financial burden, Masai School introduced the Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) model. The ISA model in Masai School helps take the financial brunt off the individual joining Masai School. The individual does not have to pay anything upfront for his or her course. With the ISA model, Masai School aims to help facilitate learning and skill development without the financial burden that accompanies traditional education.

For a learner who pursues the full-stack developer programme at Masai, what are the future job roles that he/she can expect to get into?

Our Full Stack Developer programme focuses on a set of technologies which can be used to create an independent web app. Given that, our students go into roles at the SDE -1 level such as

The specific role will typically depend on the skill which a student has gained proficiency and is more inclined towards. That allows for various personalities to be better at different pieces and they pursue a career which will be fulfilling for them.

In terms of organisations - given the penetration of web technology across industries, they can join any company from any industry which is tech-enabled. For example, they may join tech product startups such as Sharechat/Revvsales/Smallcase or an IT services company such as Mindtree or even service/product companies in the digital space such as Influx. The opportunities are abound!

Are there any new job roles being created in this era of evolving technology?

Absolutely. Roles such as Full Stack Developer, Data Scientist, ML engineer, Blockchain Architect, AI engineer, Cloud architect, etc. have all been created in the last few years with the evolution of technology. These developments are still in the transition phase and there will be several other job roles that will eventually become redundant.

What according to you are the models of edtech that will currently work in India?

The online model of edtech is currently seeing success in India. Online classes, especially with mobile applications are making life easy for many aspirants across the country. This can include apps for people looking to write competitive exams, apps for students across primary and high school and services for upskilling IT professionals are just a few examples of this model.

Despite the availability of these services, an aspirant may not always be in the position to pursue these courses due to the cost involved with it. Hence, for many such aspirants across the country, the Income Sharing agreement model in education will be beneficial. In definition, an income share agreement (or ISA) is a financial structure in which an individual or organisation provides something of value (often a fixed amount of money) to a recipient who, in exchange, agrees to pay back a percentage of their income for a fixed number of years. Through this financial model, the aspirant can gain education and pay back when he or she begins earning.  This model not only eases the financial burden, it also levels the playing field for aspirants allowing greater access to education.

Women coders at Masai School.

At the end of the day, the ideal model would be the one that adapts and evolves with the students, job requirements and the technology at that point of the world. The model that future proofs aspirants is the model to aspire for.

Please share examples of education models on reskilling at scale which will work in a country as large as India.

The future education or edtech models need to focus on aligning themselves with the student’s interest. One of the key factors in this process includes adapting the curriculum to the changing technology to help the student be future ready. Additionally, when the incentive for an institute or education provider is directly proportional to the student’s interest, there is a better prospect for the student to receive quality education.  This will answer the education – industry gap that currently ails the country and will connect the student with the right skill to the right job.

What according to you are the sectors or areas where reskilling of workforce is an immediate requirement?

 

Technology is changing right in front of our eyes and its effects affecting our everyday lives. We need skilled workforce not only in AI/ML and cloud computing roles but with a booming startup economy, there is a dearth of skilled workforce that is required in roles of product development, app development, user experience, data analysts among others.

 

Do you think there are any industry sectors or technology verticals that will be redundant soon?

 

I believe job roles that have repetitive tasks like data entry will become redundant soon. Automation will take over most of these jobs. Though these are recent developments, it will take several years for these changes to become a norm in our everyday life.

Nisha Ramchandani is the principal author of 'The Future of Work' series.

Published Date: Feb 03, 2020 01:02 PM | Updated Date: Feb 03, 2020 01:02 PM IST

Tags : #coding skills of students #employee reskilling #engineers #future of work

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