Edtech will be led by small screens

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Published: September 16, 2019 2:40:35 AM

In terms of the future of education, online will play a critical role. Today, only about 3% of global education is delivered online, but like in e-commerce, media and other sectors where digital and online adoption is rising exponentially, we will witness a surge of online education too.

Edtech, Pranjal Kumar, Bertelsmann India Investments, education, media, services sectorsPranjal Kumar, Bertelsmann India Investments.

Bertelsmann India Investments focuses on investing in pioneering companies in the digital, education, media and services sectors. Pranjal Kumar, the head of Education Fund & CFO, says these are exciting times for edtech whose future in India will be led by the small screen. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that given the explosion of the internet, data and tech will play a crucial role in the way education will be delivered. Excerpts:

How is the internet changing the future of work and the future of education?

Internet is helping create new products and services at a speed much faster than anticipated, which makes it difficult to pre-empt its implications on the future of work. But several studies on this topic in the Indian context suggest that two-thirds of current roles may get morphed into completely new ones. We also expect freelancing to become more mainstream.

In terms of the future of education, online will play a critical role. Today, only about 3% of global education is delivered online, but like in e-commerce, media and other sectors where digital and online adoption is rising exponentially, we will witness a surge of online education too.

Is a college degree still important, or are specialised skills taking its place?

Many global firms have announced that college degrees will not longer be a primary criteria in their hiring process and the focus will be on a candidate’s skills. It is easier to take this stance in tight labour markets where job seekers and vacancies are more or less matching. In a market like India, where there is a huge gap between job demand and supply, candidates will have to differentiate themselves in multiple ways to get that coveted job. We believe that India and other job-starved markets will see students taking a college degree and topping it up with specialised skills.

Will specialised jobs gain in importance?

It is important to understand what specialised roles mean—completely new roles or a new avatar of existing ones. There will be roles in areas such as supply chain, manufacturing, etc, that will become smarter, i.e. more tech, AI driven. These will not be very different from the current roles and hence we won’t classify them as specialised but rather more “automatised” roles. On the other hand, new roles such as data scientist can be classified as specialised ones. We expect to see a lot more “automatised” roles in the future.

What is the future of edtech in India?

In India, there are about 350 million smartphones and these users are consuming about 8 GB of data per device every month (10x of what it was two years ago). Most users are spending their time consuming content; video viewing on smartphones is the norm. When you put this into perspective, the future of edtech in India is very bright and small-screen-led. Also, given the explosion of the internet and various technology tools, data and tech will play a crucial role in the way education will be designed, delivered and consumed.

Can we also see an Amazon-like edtech aggregator?

Difficult, but not impossible. Unlike products and transactional services, education is a high-involvement purchase category—there are multiple attributes consumers consider before deciding on the “purchase or consumption”. This gives rise to multiple opportunities to segment the market and education providers can differentiate themselves in multiple ways.

What does an edtech aggregator mean?

In an edtech context, an aggregator is a “be-all” destination to discover, purchase and consume (or get delivered) all possible types of education services online.

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