Interview | Reskilling is new normal: Arjun Mohan, India CEO, upGrad

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Published: May 11, 2020 2:01 PM

Jobs in certain sectors have been hugely impacted (auto, travel, hospitality), but there are areas where new jobs are being created.

upGrad, higher education, higher education in india, coronavirus impact on education, coronavirus pandemicArjun Mohan, India CEO, upGrad

“In India, we have never had a crisis that redefines skilling; this is that period,” says Arjun Mohan, India CEO, upGrad, the online higher education platform. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that, today, anybody who wants to seriously learn is learning. Excerpts:

Where is higher education heading towards (in a Covid-19 world)?

I think it is going to be a net positive for entities like us that are so clearly focused online. Suddenly rules of the game as changed, and everyone is looking online—even universities that are decades old are now seeing online as a viable proposition. The market has become very open to us (online education providers). A lot of people who had aversion to learning online have been forced to try it out. Until you try something, you are a non-believer. Suddenly our target market as exploded.

How will Covid-19 change people’s approach to reskilling?

During the Global Financial Crisis of the last decade, the western world shook up and there was a surge in online learning and reskilling; this was the time when MOOCs started to happen. But, in India, we have never had a crisis that redefines skilling. This is that period. This is the time when anybody who wants to seriously learn is learning.

Who all need to be reskilled?

Jobs in certain sectors have been hugely impacted (auto, travel, hospitality), but there are areas where new jobs are being created. Irrespective of the sector, people who know how to deal with online will find themselves more in demand. Reskilling and upskilling is the new normal.

What are upGrad’s Rs 10k courses?

Learners can start a Master’s or MBA degree programmes, offered by top 1% universities globally, at a cost of Rs 10,000 only. Learners who have enrolled for this 10k programme can experience the platform for two months, until June 15, and then make a choice to continue or quit. For those who wish to continue achieving the degree will pay the full programme fee, which can go up to Rs 4.5 lakh. However, if one discontinues with the programme, on or before June 15, one will still receive a certificate for the modules completed.

Why has upGrad such high revenue per user (Rs 2.5 lakh)?

We don’t do short-term, one-month-odd courses. We offer extensive courses; we offer solid knowledge that takes time and a lot of hours. We believe that the knowledge we offer, the user is able to use it to his/her advantage in real life. Long-term course mean more time, a lot of resources and, thus, higher cost.

Do you also offer free courses?

We recently launched the Free 101 Program initiative, where we are offering 10 programmes free of cost to college students and working professionals, in order to promote upskilling at such crucial times (of Covid-19 lockdown). Upon successful completion of these courses, the learner will get an upGrad certificate. These include: Introduction to Blockchain; Getting started with Java Programming; Getting Started with Frontend Development; Blockchain Development with Ethereum; Management Essentials; Getting Started with Digital Marketing; Business Analytics Starter Pack; Python for Data Science; Introduction to Machine Learning Concepts; and Introduction to Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing.

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