Now is the time to bridge industry-academia gap with digital skills: Vikas Gupta, MD, Wiley India

With surge in demand for upskilling across industries, the EdTech sector has received a boost. In an interaction with Express Computer, Vikas Gupta, MD, Wiley India, shares Wiley India’s initiatives and his perspective on the future of EdTech companies in the country

By Gairika Mitra

What do you think is the future of the EdTech space in India, and how would people upskill via online courses?
This pandemic and its impact on our community has clearly moved the focus to finding digital solutions for every human need, education being the primary. We have had to be online for pretty much everything including upskilling and education. With leading Indian universities going online, government’s clear push to digital and the expansion of EdTech start-ups, we at Wiley are bullish on India’s EdTech potential in the years to come. This is also supported by the fact that India’s e-learning market is projected to be US$1.96 billion by 2021. The future of work is being redefined and tweaked with the shift towards digitisation, there is a need for building talent that is trained for multidisciplinary, data and information-driven roles. In this transition, our job is to ensure that the demand and supply is matched. The pertinent question here is around realising this dynamic into a sustainable model.

Bridge the gap: Now is the time to bridge established industry-academia gap with the integration of industry-relevant, digital skills in the typical education system. The potential of bridge education in the present context is to equip students with the right skills to make them ready for Industry 4.0 at day one.

New opportunities: Vanilla BTech or MBA degrees must be supplemented with domain expertise. It is time for dual degrees incorporation with industry qualifications such as STEM Masters. We are witnessing the exit of conventional learning models and the entry of the new-age, dynamic and diversified model.

Improved user engagement: It is fast becoming a key differentiator in the context of the ever-growing field of education. The assimilation of multimedia, gamification, mobile learning apps, and peer-to-peer knowledge platforms are all making content ever more immersive; intended to not only draw students’ attention, but also to keep them involved and hooked on – all the way to the end.

Alliances: It is a vital industry skill to work together in teams now. Technology facilitates social collaborations, teamwork through video, and gamification to solve problems on a real-time basis. For instance, project-based learning with live business cases through virtual teams of learners helps build trust and team skills.

Constant evaluations: Checking the development and offering feedback to each student is vital. Instead of just exams post the curriculum, we can implement the module sensibly, so that, both advisor and student can assess and enhance the learning result.

The year 2020 is evolving into a continuous journey of learning meant for individuals to stay relevant in this time of continuous disruption. Up to 40 per cent of the estimated five-million-strong Indian workforce needs re-skilling over the next five years to keep pace with automation and changing skill needs in various industries. In this age of continuous learning, an individual is expected to upskill almost six times in their career span to help align with the innovation and market growth strategy of businesses. This has massively increased the uptake of online by professionals as well as freshers.

Could you tell us about your collaboration with IIT Roorkee and IIM Lucknow?
WileyNXT offers hybrid learning programmes designed in consultation with the Wiley Innovation Advisory Council (WIAC), a group consisting of more than 50 senior industry leaders and academia. To help the new and existing workforce to develop skills relevant for Industry 4.0, we collaborated with India’s topmost educational institutes.

In collaboration with IIM Lucknow, we have launched programmes for high demand skills such as financial analytics, business data analytics, data driven product management and talent analytics. These programmes are designed to fill the existing gap of digital managers in India and drive technology innovation for competitive gain. For instance, India has only 20,000 product managers compared to an estimated 1.8 million product managers in the US alone. The programme for product management aims to bridge this gap.

Under another collaboration with IIT Roorkee, we launched India’s first-of-its-kind PG certification course in AI for banking and finance. With a huge emphasis on automation to accelerate the development and deployment of products in the banking and finance sector, there is a need for a digitally enabled workforce. The four-month programme will focus on training IT professionals and graduates to implement AI in the banking and financial services sector.

All the programmes cover industry immersion classes by top business leaders to give an in-depth understanding of the industries. The cutting-edge curriculum for product management programme at IIM Lucknow is developed by Wiley programme architects David Fradin, Wiley Author, and product management experts with decades of experience of working with companies such as Apple, HP and consulting and training in Cisco and other top tiers corporates as well as start-ups and Bala Girisaballa, President, TechStars and Wiley Innovation Advisory Council member.

IIT Roorkee curriculum is designed by Nishant Chandra, Senior Director (Data Products), Visa and Naveen Yeri, SVP, Head of Enterprise Analytics and Data Science, Wells Fargo along with Wiley Innovation and Advisory Council members.

How significant is the role of automation in the EdTech space?
We believe automation will become a core element across industries with EdTech getting its chunk as well. AI allows a change in one-size-fits for all model of classrooms in an EdTech ecosystem and ensure personalisation and interactive learning. It also brings in significant improvements in adaptive learning, online learning platforms and guiding systems.

How do you cater to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets?
With India being one of the cheapest countries when it comes to the internet, we believe the penetration is much deeper than we used to think it was. EdTech players are trying to solve this problem in many ways. For instance, we solved the problem of access to labs on cloud for coding problems by building the lab on a pen drive that can be shipped to the candidate’s address and allows them to complete the coursework without the dependency on network connectivity.

How crucial is technology to bridge the socio-economic gap?
Technology, if used correctly, can surely bridge the global socio-economic gap. In fact, we are already witnessing the traditional style of retail business moving in the digital space through e-commerce platforms. There are micro-businesses who had their audience limited to the neighbourhood but, shipping across the nation and even world today.

Today, the technological disruption across the world is transpiring at an unprecedented pace, paving way for driving innovation in the knowledge economy. This creates colossal opportunities for economic growth and social benefits for a developing country like ours. It has provided us with an opportunity to come up with innovative solutions to address the existing and upcoming socio-economic challenges, such as waste management, environmental pollution, health issues, restructuring and improving agricultural processes. Such technological innovations, that focuses on economic development while addressing social issues, are key to developing last-mile solutions that can bridge gaps at the mass level.

Digital SkillsedtechIIT RoorkeeVikas GuptaWiley India
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