Skilled individuals

The need for skilled individuals in India: Bradley Loiselle, betterU

The Indian education industry is poised for a transformation considering the need for skilled individuals in the country today. In an interview with DataQuest, Bradley Loiselle, Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, betterU as well as President, SKILLSdox Inc, discusses about the need and measures that need to be taken to bridge the skills gap in India.

What is the current scenario of the number of skilled individuals in India?

This year’s union budget has given the utmost importance to skilling and education, which is a welcome move in today’s skill-driven industry. Moreover, the emphasis was applied on vocational training to make India – a globally-ready skilled workforce. According to the Global Skills Index 2019 report, there is a great need for reskilling, upskilling and deep-skilling as out of 60 countries – India ranks 50 in business, 44 in technology and 51 in data science skillset, which shows the current skilled workforce in India is falling behind in adeptness.

Girls and women play a critical part of global growth. According to the India Skill Report 2019, the number of women in India Inc. has declined as compared to 2015. If gender parity is achieved, The World Economic Forum has predicted a 27% boost in India’s GDP. The fact that there is a decline in women in the workforce is a problem, which can also be solved with more visible access to global education opportunities.

The key to skills development is access to relevant and global industry-aligned skills. There are a lot of educators, both local and international, that are focused on simply selling courses without truly understanding the need of the individual. In a population such as India, access to content must be supported by access to opportunities. There needs to be an alignment of education to global employment opportunities to make education more impactful. Fundamentally there is a supply and demand issue in India that also needs to be taken into consideration. Does India have enough jobs for the number of people currently in need of updated skills? What about five years from now? Global ready skilled workforce means that we need to be skilling resources based on the needs of the world. Canada, USA, Australia, UK and more all have requirements for employment and a need to fill these jobs. Are the skills being accessed in India aligned with the opportunities abroad?

Kindly highlight on the need to fill the gaps in the education industry

Below are six key reasons for a massive skill gap in India:

  • In recent years, the advancements of technology have created new jobs, which has resulted in developing skills from time-to-time. This adroitness was not previously known or required
  • Moreover, most educational bodies have focused on theory and not practical skills development
  • This has led to a disconnect between industry and educators
  • There are not enough educators to support the population. Therefore, many people are without access to proper skills training
  • The growth of a population, poverty levels, gender inequality, conflict, and other such factors do play their part in reducing access to skill development opportunities
  • High costs are associated with some of the skill development courses. Apart from the price, these courses are either not easily accessible or not available to all the masses

These key reasons are compounding the challenges even further. As many global educators want to tap into the opportunities to support skilling mass populations such as India, there are barriers that continue to push them back.

These barriers include:

  • Career Counselling – Supporting individuals in making the right career and education choices should be made a common practice. Global educators, for the most part, do not have large enough teams currently in place to support each individual.
  • Ability to pay – Most of the world’s education platform require an international credit card to purchase a course, yet according to RBI’s data in 2017, there were only 30 million cards issued representing under 3% of the population, for which those who have international credit cards, might also not require skills development.
  • Student acquisition time and cost – It can be expensive for an international educator to promote, source and service locally. Creating visibility, hosting awareness session and then filtering applications is time-consuming and can cost quite a bit. Global educators are looking for the most cost-effective ways of sourcing and completing this process.
  • Understanding the Skill Gap – When learners or employers are seeking to under what training is required to shore up the skill gap, most educators do not provide assessments across the spectrum of learning. This creates challenges for individuals and employers in truly understanding what is required. In most cases, when one does not know what is required, they simply take courses that they believe is relevant. Unfortunately, this can and does waste time and money especially, when an employer is looking for results.
  • Market saturation of Ed-tech – Too many educators have saturated the market with their programs claiming overarching solutions. The problem with this is that the individual must search through the noise to find quality programs and if by chance they pick the wrong programs it creates even more hesitation the next time.

How does the partnership between better and NSDC aim at transforming the education system in India?

Due to time restraints and limited access to the right skilling programs, employees fail to upskill, which results in missing opportunities to move up the ladder in their respective industrial sector. Moreover, the knowledge provided in schools and colleges doesn’t suffice and guarantee the millennials a job. The gap is mainly because of the lack of updated, relevant content and a link between industry and educators.  By linking Industry to educators, the students are able to get access to programs that are aligned for the jobs they are seeking.  When they leave school, there are not only industry-ready, but specifically job-ready.

The partnership with NSDC will aim at transforming the education system in India because the joint vision and business model is to support all skills, and if we do not have the right content, our strategy and aim is to find it and make it available. The overall challenge is that most educators are focused on a specific type of learners, content and target audience. Millions of people variables cannot be supported by individual educators. Together, NSDC and betterU can provide education support and skilling for everyone.

betterU has been working for years on the development of an eco-system that supports all sectors and the job roles. In that, betterU was required to create a technology that could understand the skill gap of an individual for the job that they wanted. Working with data from the sector skill councils, betterU combined the qualification pack details into what they call an ‘Upskill Engine’. Within this Engine, the user selects the sector of interest, sub-sector, occupation and job role. They are then walked through a self-assessment across the education and skills required for the job role they selected. The questions were written by leaders from each sector within India and results at the end of the assessment provides the learner with a skill gap report along with recommended learning from around the world. In order to support so many variables of learning, betterU has worked to bring together a lot of different educators across the breadth and depth of learning. betterU is working with NSDC and their sector skill counsels to advance further their engine.

  1. Who stands to benefit from this partnership?

Mutually, both will benefit from the partnership, as betterU has the largest collection of global educators and NSDC has a huge network in India. With the NSDC’s widespread reach across India, we can reach out to millions of people and focus on educators’ needs to learn and provide a specific type of content, based on their skillset. It also goes with our tagline – One world, one education system. To advance mass populations, we need to come together with global opportunities and localized solutions, instead of working separately with each group around the world.

Individuals, corporations, the government and then the world will benefit from the efforts of betterU, NSDC, MSDE, and the sector skill counsels.

  1. What is the unique aspect of this partnership?

There is a significant need for content across all aspects of learning, in order to support India’s upskilling needs. Thirty-eight sectors skills, most of which have different requirements – children to adults have different requirements,  and employees and freshers all have different needs. The overall challenge is that most educators are focused on a specific type of learner, content and target audience.

Educators for far too long have worked in silos competing for students and the ones that could afford to attend the best schools got ahead of the rest of the populations. It is time the world comes together to realize that education is a basic need that can solve massive problems. Instead of looking at it as a business, we need to start looking at it from a humanitarian prospective. We need to share more, collaboration more, interact more, support each other more and ultimately the benefits to each other and the world will accelerate the global benefits for all.

The unique aspect about this partnership is that it will help drive more collaborations across sector skills and hopefully, start driving them into betterU’s ecosystem and Upskill Engine.

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