Re-skilling can help solve the employability problem

Mohan Lakhanraju

To say that technology is rapidly reshaping our workplaces and redefining what constitutes ‘talent’, is stating a cliché. The sheer survival of professionals in any sector today, be it IT, ITES, BFSI, manufacturing, consulting, hospitality or healthcare, depends on their ability to reinvent themselves and adapt to changing skill set requirements. The reality is that even mid-level and senior executives need to cope with the changing skill demands by upskilling and reskilling themselves. The threat of job loss is driving everyone from freshers and mid to VP level professionals to delve into an environment of continuous learning. In fact, it is mid-career professionals with 5-20 years of industry experience who are driving the demand for courses in trending technologies, followed by early-career executives. The skills that are most in demand today revolve around disruptive and transformational technologies like Business Analytics, Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT).

Indian IT is one of the key industries that is feeling the heat of automation and digitisation. According to NASSCOM, the number of IT professionals who need to be reskilled stands at 1.5 million, which is almost 40% of the Indian IT workforce. Skills that were in demand three years ago are outdated today. Owing to the growing number of roles that have been rendered redundant, the number of IT layoffs in 2017 touched more than 56,000.

Traditional jobs and roles are under threat. Besides the shortage of skilled manpower, automation is threatening to upend human expertise, taking over at least 10% of existing jobs in the IT sector within the next few years. Some experts go as far as saying that automation will render more than 70% of the workforce irrelevant. Amidst reports of the country facing a ‘jobless growth’ phase, recruitment drives have taken a nosedive in recent times as a result of the employability gap growing wider by the day. One of the biggest challenges hiring managers face, is finding talent with the right skillset. Rapidly emerging, disruptive technologies are making existing roles obsolete and creating new job profiles, the skills for which are hard to find in India.

RE-skilling opens new windows of opportunity

Re-skilling can not only help people stay relevant in their industry, it can also enable professionals to achieve meaningful career transitions. A large number of working professionals have experienced transitions within the same or different industries post re-skilling with significant salary hikes. Take the case of Richa Agarwal, a business analyst at ICICI Lombard, whose primary role involved creating excel sheets and dashboards. Upon completion of her course in Business Analytics, she landed offers from JP Morgan and Fractal Analytics, choosing to take up the latter organisation as a Lead Senior consultant.

It is also not uncommon for professionals from non-tech domains like healthcare, to make successful transitions within their own stream or to entirely non-related fields. Take the case of Dr. Ashwath Prathapani, a doctor who took up a programme in Business Analytics and built a model to predict the adverse effects of continued drug abuse on patients of different age groups. Today, he is part of the clinical trials wing of a leading hospital, where he is fine-tuning his model to increase its reliability. Another example is that of Navneet Srivastava, a professional from the shipping and logistics industry who, after taking up a course in Data Science made a transition to a leading MNC Bank as part of their Data strategy and insights team.

For some professionals, upskilling in new technologies fuels their entrepreneurial drive. For instance, Vinesh Chawla, after completing  course in Business Analytics, was able to launch his own company, Ministri cycling, specialising in performance fabrics for cyclists. Similarly, Tushar Sharma, Karthikeyan Sivasubramanian and Ramars Jilleja, during the course of their programme in Business Analytics, decided to leave their jobs in the IT industry and start their own analytics consulting firm called Vokse Digital. Nowadays, senior industry professionals indicate that most of them, in their hiring decisions, focus on the candidates’ knowledge and competence rather than the degrees they possess. The demand for jobs is outpacing their supply as the focus of companies shifts away from recruitment and more towards upskilling and re-skilling existing employees.

Continuous Learning Opportunities

The IT and ITES industry is expected to employ about 7.5 million persons directly by 2022, according to a National Skill Development Corporation report on skill requirements in the IT and ITES sector. The NASSCOM Sector Skill Council has identified 55 new job roles and 155 new age skills that it foresees as relevant for jobs of the future. Big Data, Analytics, Machine Learning and AI feature prominently among them.

Machine Learning (ML) will open the doors of innovation in sectors like manufacturing, travel, hospitality, retail, financial services and healthcare. Demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI) roles have more than doubled in the last three years, according to job search engine, Indeed. This year will see a 60% increase in demand for Machine Learning and AI specialists, as per industry sources. Additionally, around 350,000 Cloud Computing roles are expected to be opened this year, thereby underscoring the demand for professionals with Cloud skills.

The way forward

Re-skill is the current buzzword echoing off corporate walls as companies are driving large scale initiatives among the existing workforce to build a continuous learning culture. Technologies are changing at such a fast pace that no one can afford to ‘rest on their laurels’. Highly capable automation will replace almost all cognitive and routine manual tasks sooner rather than later. In preparation for such a scenario unfolding before us, investing in an environment of continuous learning will better equip organisations and individuals for jobs of the future.

(The writer is founder and CEO of Great Learning, an online and blended learning platform for working professionals to upgrade their competencies)

 

 

Re-skilling can help solve the employability problem

Mohan Lakhanraju

To say that technology is rapidly reshaping our workplaces and redefining what constitutes ‘talent’, is stating a cliché. The sheer survival of professionals in any sector today, be it IT, ITES, BFSI, manufacturing, consulting, hospitality or healthcare, depends on their ability to reinvent themselves and adapt to changing skill set requirements. The reality is that even mid-level and senior executives need to cope with the changing skill demands by upskilling and reskilling themselves. The threat of job loss is driving everyone from freshers and mid to VP level professionals to delve into an environment of continuous learning. In fact, it is mid-career professionals with 5-20 years of industry experience who are driving the demand for courses in trending technologies, followed by early-career executives. The skills that are most in demand today revolve around disruptive and transformational technologies like Business Analytics, Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT).

Indian IT is one of the key industries that is feeling the heat of automation and digitisation. According to NASSCOM, the number of IT professionals who need to be reskilled stands at 1.5 million, which is almost 40% of the Indian IT workforce. Skills that were in demand three years ago are outdated today. Owing to the growing number of roles that have been rendered redundant, the number of IT layoffs in 2017 touched more than 56,000.

Traditional jobs and roles are under threat. Besides the shortage of skilled manpower, automation is threatening to upend human expertise, taking over at least 10% of existing jobs in the IT sector within the next few years. Some experts go as far as saying that automation will render more than 70% of the workforce irrelevant. Amidst reports of the country facing a ‘jobless growth’ phase, recruitment drives have taken a nosedive in recent times as a result of the employability gap growing wider by the day. One of the biggest challenges hiring managers face, is finding talent with the right skillset. Rapidly emerging, disruptive technologies are making existing roles obsolete and creating new job profiles, the skills for which are hard to find in India.

RE-skilling opens new windows of opportunity

Re-skilling can not only help people stay relevant in their industry, it can also enable professionals to achieve meaningful career transitions. A large number of working professionals have experienced transitions within the same or different industries post re-skilling with significant salary hikes. Take the case of Richa Agarwal, a business analyst at ICICI Lombard, whose primary role involved creating excel sheets and dashboards. Upon completion of her course in Business Analytics, she landed offers from JP Morgan and Fractal Analytics, choosing to take up the latter organisation as a Lead Senior consultant.

It is also not uncommon for professionals from non-tech domains like healthcare, to make successful transitions within their own stream or to entirely non-related fields. Take the case of Dr. Ashwath Prathapani, a doctor who took up a programme in Business Analytics and built a model to predict the adverse effects of continued drug abuse on patients of different age groups. Today, he is part of the clinical trials wing of a leading hospital, where he is fine-tuning his model to increase its reliability. Another example is that of Navneet Srivastava, a professional from the shipping and logistics industry who, after taking up a course in Data Science made a transition to a leading MNC Bank as part of their Data strategy and insights team.

For some professionals, upskilling in new technologies fuels their entrepreneurial drive. For instance, Vinesh Chawla, after completing  course in Business Analytics, was able to launch his own company, Ministri cycling, specialising in performance fabrics for cyclists. Similarly, Tushar Sharma, Karthikeyan Sivasubramanian and Ramars Jilleja, during the course of their programme in Business Analytics, decided to leave their jobs in the IT industry and start their own analytics consulting firm called Vokse Digital. Nowadays, senior industry professionals indicate that most of them, in their hiring decisions, focus on the candidates’ knowledge and competence rather than the degrees they possess. The demand for jobs is outpacing their supply as the focus of companies shifts away from recruitment and more towards upskilling and re-skilling existing employees.

Continuous Learning Opportunities

The IT and ITES industry is expected to employ about 7.5 million persons directly by 2022, according to a National Skill Development Corporation report on skill requirements in the IT and ITES sector. The NASSCOM Sector Skill Council has identified 55 new job roles and 155 new age skills that it foresees as relevant for jobs of the future. Big Data, Analytics, Machine Learning and AI feature prominently among them.

Machine Learning (ML) will open the doors of innovation in sectors like manufacturing, travel, hospitality, retail, financial services and healthcare. Demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI) roles have more than doubled in the last three years, according to job search engine, Indeed. This year will see a 60% increase in demand for Machine Learning and AI specialists, as per industry sources. Additionally, around 350,000 Cloud Computing roles are expected to be opened this year, thereby underscoring the demand for professionals with Cloud skills.

The way forward

Re-skill is the current buzzword echoing off corporate walls as companies are driving large scale initiatives among the existing workforce to build a continuous learning culture. Technologies are changing at such a fast pace that no one can afford to ‘rest on their laurels’. Highly capable automation will replace almost all cognitive and routine manual tasks sooner rather than later. In preparation for such a scenario unfolding before us, investing in an environment of continuous learning will better equip organisations and individuals for jobs of the future.

(The writer is founder and CEO of Great Learning, an online and blended learning platform for working professionals to upgrade their competencies)

 

Why 25% seat increase for Higher Education Institutions will Adversely Affect Teaching?

The seat increase in higher educational institutions without funding can adversely affect the quality of education.

 

Abhishek Jha

Last month, the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry announced a 25% increase in seats in higher educational institutions (HEIs). This will ensure that there is no reduction in the absolute number of open seats after the 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category comes into effect. The Ministry order allows for this increment to be spread over a two-year period in case of financial, infrastructural, or academic constraints. This is similar to the 54% seat increase which was implemented when the 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) came in during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. However, unlike at the time of OBC reservations, there is no clarity yet whether budgetary allocation for HEIs will be increased to finance the additional infrastructural requirements. An HT analysis shows that this might make things even more difficult for HEIs, which have been facing a resource crunch due to a significant expansion in number of institutions and students in the recent period.

The pace of increase in total budgetary allocation for higher education under the HRD ministry was significantly higher under the UPA government than the present government, both in nominal and real terms.

These headline numbers might suggest that the additional needs of HEIs to implement seat increase under the UPA period were taken care of. A disaggregated analysis of numbers suggests otherwise. Bulk of the additional funding is in the form of plan grants (meant for one-time spending such as building classrooms and hostels), whereas non-plan grants (meant for recurring spending such as paying salaries and maintaining laboratories) increased by a very small amount.

See Chart 2: Break-up of additional allocation under plan and non-plan grant

Lack of non-plan allocation for HEIs has created problems for maintaining teaching and research facilities. For example, Jawaharlal Nehru University cited lack of funds to discontinue access to online journals in the library. This shows a lack of funds to take care of recurring expenses.

The most important ill-effect of lack of resources to take care of recurring expenditure seems to be a rise in student-teacher ratio in HEIs in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the last two years for which data is available from the HRD ministry.

 

A Rajya Sabha reply from the HRD ministry on 27 December, 2018 admits that lack of resources for central universities might have led to a worsening of the student-teacher ratio. The HRD ministry said that one-third of all sanctioned teaching posts in central universities were lying vacant as on 1 April, 2018. The ministry cites space constraints, lack of development of campuses of new central universities etc. among the reasons for vacant teaching posts in central universities.

Lack of proper funding could be an important reason for universities established after 2006 not taking off, said Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University and a member of the erstwhile National Knowledge Commission. The skewed nature of additional allocations towards plan grants meant that the burden of increased seats came on existing resources (including personnel) and facilities, leading to a negative impact on both teaching and research, Ghosh added.

Should the proposed expansion not happen then? World Bank statistics show that China’s Gross Enrolment Ratio in tertiary education was 48.4% in 2016, while this figure was only 27% in India. This dearth of quantity in higher education is compounded by a lack of quality as well. According to the 2019 QS World University Rankings, nine Indian universities featured in the top 500 compared to 22 Chinese universities. If funding of educational institutes is not increased, it is likely to hurt both the proposed expansion – as evidenced in the slow growth of new HEIs – as well as the quality of the institutes.

 

 

In Association with IIT Delhi, Dialogue India Magazine organized the third Dialogue India Conclave on June 24, 2017, in collaboration with IIT Delhi at IIT Delhi. AICTE was also a partner in this event. An exhibition was also organized to promote technological innovation in higher education in the program, in which many educational institutions from across the country displayed their technological innovation. These institutions have displayed their original and new technically ideas as models. The institutes participating in this exhibition were IIT Delhi, Riviera Mobile, Era Lucknow Medical College and Hospital, Lucknow, SCMS School of Engineering and Technology, Krishna Engineering College, RC Patel Institute of Technology, KCG College of Technology, Dronacharya College of Engineering, GLA University Mathura, Mehr Chand Polytechnic, Eastindin. Representatives from all these institutions displayed their technical efficiency and innovation. Awards were given to the institutions performing best in the exhibition. Two third prizes were given to KCG College of Technology and SCMC School of Engineering, and a second prize to the Era Lucknow Medical College. The exhibition of their various projects was also organized by the students of IIT Delhi in this program. About twenty students displayed their projects.

Whole day the scholars and academicians from all over India expressed their views on various topics. In the inaugural session of the program, MP Ramesh Vidhudi, was the chief guest. He emphasized value-based education by telling the distance between education and degree. He emphasized on self-disciplinary approach. At the same time, he told the various steps taken by the Modi government in the field of education. In the first session, Archana Dutta, former Director General, Doordarshan, Dr. Kamal Tawari, Former Secretary, Government of India, Prof. SK Atrey, IIT Delhi, Prof. V.K. Goswami, EX- VC Sunrise University, Sangam University, VP Asian Academy of Film and Television, Shri Pawan Sinha, Spiritual Guru, Need for improvement in higher education in India i.e., The Need of Wake up India for Reform and Transformation in Higher Education, Wake Up India: Innovate, Manufacturing, Globalization, presented their views on the subject and needed improvement in education Emphasized Along with changes in the present form of education, emphasis has been laid on improving primary education from primary level.

Prior to this, Dialogue India magazine’s group editor, Anuj Agarwal, told the need for this conclave that he was very disturbed to see this form of education in the private sector, and the scams in the name of education used to churn his mind, he also felt the lack of communication. Communication between government institutions and private institutions disturbed him, and this is why he came with this form of conclave. And this year he got the support of IIT and AICTE, and this form of conclave emerged. There are three different aspects, the first is the discussion on the burning issues in the field of education, the second is the new projects by the students and the third presentation on the technical and innovation paper presentation.

The second session was on the role of private institution promoter / owners in quality foreign education and innovation, in which commander VK Jaitley, eminent journalist Mr. Ved Pratap Vaidik, Maj Gen Dilawar Singh, Professor Navin Rampal, and Prof. IIT Roorkee. Sonal Atrey and Mrs. Sheila Tawari were the speakers. The role of private education providers in this session was discussed in detail. And many important ideas came to the solution of the challenges faced by them. According to Shri Vaidik ji, there is a time for change in education and the time for revolution for education has come. It is time to start a movement in the field of education.

In the third session, discussions regarding the need to change Indian value system, its relevance and higher education, and emphasis on the need to restore Indian values to education were done. In this session, Commander VK Jaitley, Prof. S. K. Atrey, Dr. Sudhir Singh, Dr. Valmiki Prasad, Dr. NK Jain, and Prof. Seema Sharma discussed Indian values on higher education. And there was a consensus on whether education can not improve in India without the restoration of Indian values.

In the last session, Union Minister of State for Women & Child Development, Smt. Krishna Raj was the Chief Guest. She also emphasized the re-establishment of Indian values. Congratulating Mr. Anuj Agrawal, the group editor of Dialogue India, she also congratulated the magazine on the ranking of private institutions. Mrs. Krishna Raj said that such programs should continue even further.

All guests in the program were welcomed by the group editor of the magazine, Anuj Agarwal and Managing Editor Dr Sarika Agarwal.

A part of the conclave was also a paper presentation on technology and innovation. More than 30 papers were presented from various institutes from all over the country on technical and innovation. Several other institutions including Sandip Foundation Sejaul and Birla Institute of Technology Meresa, YMCA Technical University, Faridabad, Annamalai University, Chennai and many other institutions participated in this paper presentation and presented new and original ideas through their papers.

The ambassador of various countries also joined the program. The victorious contestants of exhibition received their winning cheques by Palestinian and Slovenian ambassador Mr. Faik H.H. Hamza and Boris Jolosvik.

In the program, the mesmerizing presentation of a dance drama was given by Kathak dancer Anu Sinha’s group, and it was based on the famous work of Jai Shankar Prasad Kamayani. There was also a session that all the suggestions should be given to Government. At the end of the session Managing editor Dr. Sarika Agarwal and group editor of the magazine Anuj Agarwal expressed gratitude to all the guests and expressed commitment on continuing such dialogue.

Higher Education: Towards big Changes amid challenges

‘Dialogue India Survey’ for the year 2016-17 shows that the education sector of the country is passing through rapid transformation. Extensive changes have been introduced not only in higher education, but also at the intermediate and primary level. The institutions, which grabbed big headlines in the media till a few years back have now vanished from the scene, while those institutions which silently and honestly continued to work focussing on quality are now shining on top. Fact is that, barring a few top players among the private institutions, the position of all the institutions has substantially changed. For the first time the impact of government control over the institutions, colleges and schools is visible.
Mushrooming of institutions, uncontrolled admission of students there like cattle and their promotion in next standards after certain ‘nautankis’ and formalities has been nothing but an organised loot. Observation of this pathetic situation and widespread cheating on the part of the institutions highly painful for our survey teams. Like the high powered various committees, expert groups or the studies conducted in the past, our findings about the education system too are disappointing. Our findings support the studies that the degree holders being produced in the country every year by majority of the institutions are armed with the fake certificates and about 80 to 90 per cent of those who have genuine degrees too are unemployable. If this is the situation, we have indeed jumped into a dark well. The country is crawling on the strength of 10 per cent qualified persons or the traditional knowledge of the rest 90 per cent ‘qualified’ but unemployable people.
A good number of students who are shown studying in the government schools in most of the small towns, cities or villages by government agencies actually study in unrecognised or recognised private schools after paying hefty fees. But the English medium education received at these so-called public schools does not help them much after they completes 12th standard and appear for any competitive exam for job or higher studies. They have to depend upon the tuition or coaching syndicates where they are taught the techniques to qualify the exam by adopting shortcuts. Hence, some of them become part of any reputed government institution or some land in any higher education institution.
Despite that, the story that the above facts state force us to think deeper. During the survey, we experienced an earthquake type situation in the field of private education. Since the courts and regulatory bodies have started acting tough during, for the last two-three years the admissions in hundreds of higher educational institutions have drastically decreased or some institutions have reached the verge of closer. Mandatory use of Aadhar Card, biometric attendance of staff and students, pan card, tough admission rules based on standards, single entrance, curb on charging capitation fees, online monitoring and extensive use of IT etc have all changed the rules of the game. Now nobody is seen advising to open educational institution to make money. The continuous closer of some of the institutions indicate to the same situation.
In fact, about two third of the engineering, management, medical or dental institutions are in very poor condition. Many have been closed down or are at the verge of closer. Not only this, many so-called reputed private universities also are at the verge of closer. During the last a few years, the engineering, management, medical or dental collages that have shown good results are fast converting into deemed universities. Many big industrial and business groups have also opened their own universities. Comparatively, it is a welcome trend, because earlier the institutions were run either by some builders, liquor mafias, corrupt politicians or bureaucrats. They used the education sector only to make money by adopting unfair means.
Fortunately, that disappointing era seems to be over and those players who have been serious remain in the race. But now some new challenges are knocking the door. It needs no elaboration that our entire education model has been copied from the West. It has neither originality nor the indigenous sprit. It also does not develop the feeling of nationality. The youth who get education through the country’s state funded system easily hand over their knowledge, skills or talent to the multi-national companies. And after doing that they feel proud! It needs immediate action, because such youth are swiftly adopting the alien culture also and have inferiority complex towards their own country, language and culture.
Another fact is that majority of the industries or business houses are fast adopting IT and automation. Almost all the successful institutions are today changing their syllabus, labs or faculty members accordingly. But in this process, the use of human resources is gradually decreasing, which is adversely affecting the employment generation. The work which used to be done by 10, 20 or 30 engineers till some time back is now done by 1 or 2 engineers only. This indicates to the grave situation of unemployment, which will be before us in coming days. Additionally, there is a campaign against our IT professionals across the world. In this situation, the big challenge before the policymakers is how to transform the education system so that it generates more avenues of employment. Apart from research, we will have to speedily focus on innovations and entrepreneurship. Otherwise, all the efforts of rankings, conducting studies or surveys will prove to be unfruitful.
Anuj Agrawal
Editor


Building our future: first step starts with Education

Our life is like a ladder, where each step signifies a different phase in life which we have to conquer. There are no short cuts to a holistic and fulfilling career and future. Like everything else, we need a thorough preparation, before we prepare to take on the challenge of career.

There is no doubt that education is that goblet of fortune and prosperity that not only shapes up who we are but helps us in reaching milestones. We cannot therefore take this issue lightly, especially with the onslaught of recent debates where education isn’t only just our right. It plays a crucial role in the development of human resources but its decreasing health shows how far behind we are in terms of progress. Education is still limited to a few people, while many receive substandard education. Schools, colleges and specialized institutions are backward in terms of instruments, infrastructure and most importantly teachers.

Good marks no more means good intellect, as proven by the CBSE results of class 12th in Bihar. It not only is a big slap to our education institution but also shows the hollowness of a student’s life where the concern is more on marks and rankings than on learning and engaging with concepts. Only a counted number of schools and colleges provide a comprehensive study which focuses not only on academics, but human morals and qualities like courage, leadership, responsibility etc, and also on practical field knowledge.

The belief that private institutions provide better education than public institutions is a myth since many of them take five times the fee of a public school and proportionally provide a meager education. They are more of a capitalistic venture where focus ultimately remains on earning the maximum profits, through fee hikes or donations.

Why are there only a few education institutions in India that are on par with the current needs of society? Where has the government and private education institutes failed? There are an exceeding number of reasons for this problem, but each one can be easily rectified if there is a proper collaboration between the government, both at the central and state level with the private investors.

There is also one major problem with today’s education scheme and that is the lack of well informed and outstanding teachers. Teachers have the major job of molding the students into competent individuals who can actively take part in society. Yet, most of the schools and colleges have teachers below the requirement level while many teachers are phony with minimum qualifications and no content. The teachers of government school are in much worse conditions due to no proper management or checking and the unnecessary duties thrust on them (like surveys etc.) that derails them from their duties to their students.

This is the main reason why the central government recently passed a law that no teachers can be engaged in government work other than election duties, decennial census, and disaster management. Teachers need to be held accountable for the children’s education yet they also need to be supported with proper schemes that improve their field of education. A qualitative and regular analysis and checking of teachers to ensure that they are giving sound education to students is demand of the time.

At the same time work needs to be done on the infrastructure, curriculum and inclusive structure of educational institutes without any biases. Technology is a beneficial investment that only expands the field of knowledge of students but connects them to a wide variety of resources.

Some important government innovations are:

  • E- Library- the quality content of central universities and other premier institutions would be digitally available and easily accessible.
  • UDAAN- enables disadvantaged girls to transit from school to post-school professional education especially in science and Mathematics.
  • Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan- aims at nurturing spirit of inquiry and creativity, love for science and Mathematics and effective use of technology amongst students.

‘National Institutional Ranking Framework’-  Proposed by the HRD ministry will help in ranking all national educational institutes on the basis of several parameters and will help the students in making a informed choice for their higher education as well as create a standardization that will compel institutes to improve themselves.

These schemes can only work if education is made equitable, qualitative and interactive.  An environment needs to be built where both the students as well as teachers can take active part in meaningful teaching- learning experiences.

We have a plethora of good laws but the time calls for their proper implementation now.

 

Maanvi Agarwal