Layoff fear creates opportunities for online professional courses

June 17, 2017 08:18 pm | Updated 09:28 pm IST - BENGALURU

India's IT industry, with Bangalore firms forming the largest component, is now worth an annual $100 billion and growing 14 percent per year, one of the few bright spots in an economy blighted by policy stagnation and political instability.

India's IT industry, with Bangalore firms forming the largest component, is now worth an annual $100 billion and growing 14 percent per year, one of the few bright spots in an economy blighted by policy stagnation and political instability.

As Indian IT services companies gear up to embrace new technologies like automation, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud to meet client demands, the need for reskilling and upskilling is growing. Over the years, the IT industry has faced the challenge of finding right talent as the technology landscape is undergoing rapid changes.

Betting big on this opportunity, a group of online learning and education start-ups are providing digital courses to individual employees and corporates to help them get skilled and become future-ready employees. These companies provide both offline and online curricula that enable working professionals pursue various courses.

As per a few industry watchers and education companies, the number of employees registering for online course in new-age technologies has increased over the last one year. One of the reasons cited for the sudden spurt in the number of people enrolling for digital courses is large-scale layoffs in major IT services companies.

“There has been turmoil in the IT industry over the last 3-4 months and the news around layoffs has instilled much needed awareness about the importance of upskilling in this rapidly changing work environment,” said Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO of Simplilearn.

“The industry has seen massive changes over the last year and a half because of automation and rapidly evolving technologies. This has led to professionals investing in upskilling programmes from their own capacity to remain relevant and employable," added Mr. Kumar.

A recent study conducted by internet major Google and KPMG said that the online education industry will grow at a healthy rate of 8x, to become a $1.96 billion industry by 2021.

The study also stated that reskilling and online certification forms the largest portion of the market opportunity. In 2016, the market was valued at $93 million and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 38% to reach 463 million by 2021.

The education providers also work with both large and small IT companies to create customised courses for the specific needs of the companies. The online model also helps corporations to disburse courses to their employees without disturbing the daily work schedule.

“Online learning will play a key role in helping the IT industry reduce the skills gap by helping them assess their skills, find or build the right learning paths, get instant expert help and apply learning interactive labs,” said Arun Rajamani, Country GM at Pluralsight India.

Another survey by Pluralsight, a US-based technology learning platform said, 69% of the Indian IT professionals believe that online learning is a more effective learning method than offline training.

"We even custom-create courses based on requirements of an organization. Each organization is unique and their business needs differ. We understand the organization's business priorities, collaboratively identify the right courses for them and disseminate the courses with minimum disruption to business," said Lovleen Bhatia, CEO and Co-Founder, Edureka. The company claims to have more than 350,000 learners from across the globe uses its platform.

The growing opportunity in the online education sector has also excited the venture capitalist. Simplilearn had raised over Rs. 182 crore from Kalaari Capital, Helion Ventures and Mayfield, meanwhile another start-up Jigsaw Academy had raised Rs 20 crore Series II funding from Manipal Global Education Services.

Apart from the Indian start-ups many large global education companies like Coursera, Pluralsight, Udacity have also started operations to tap the opportunity.

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