People have realised that upskilling is their responsibility, not their employer’s: Aditya Malik, CEO, TalentEdge

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June 28, 2021 3:15 AM

While job loss is one of the adverse impacts some have to endure with the advent of robust digitalisation, many opportunities are resting in the current industry trends.

Aditya Malik, CEO & MD, TalentEdge

About 90% learners who take upskilling courses at TalentEdge pay from their own pocket, and are not sponsored by their employers. “People have realised that their upskilling is their own responsibility,” says Aditya Malik, CEO & MD, TalentEdge (an edtech company that provides upskilling courses primarily to working professionals). In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, he adds that as the penetration of the internet is increasing in rural India, so is the interest in online learning, and edtech companies must now start providing courses in vernacular languages. Excerpts:

Are job losses due to robotic process automation (RPA) real, especially in the IT industry?

While job loss is one of the adverse impacts some have to endure with the advent of robust digitalisation, many opportunities are resting in the current industry trends. The need is to pace ourselves with the speed at which the age of automation is moving. During the pandemic, segments such as edtech, fintech, healthtech, consulting, cybersecurity, gaming, analytics, cloud computing, AI, ML and data analytics have flourished, and this has raised the demand for people adept in digital transformation, process automation, technology integration, data analytics, AI and ML. Hence, IT employees should upskill and reskill themselves irrespective of their job status.

Should current technology students start making themselves multi-skilled instead of hyper-specialisation?

Hyper-specialisation will always be in demand, but if you can add a skill or two to specialisation, it will work to your advantage. For instance, a specialised management degree coupled with a niche understanding of fintech or edtech or data analysis will be preferred over a general management degree. During the Fourth Industrial Revolution, you will inadvertently end up donning multiple hats, and so you must have a balanced approach towards enhancing your core expertise and interests, and gaining new skills.

While K12 edtech flourished during the lockdown, what was one big activity in the higher education edtech space?

Schools were closed so firms such as Byju’s, Vedantu and others gained a lot, but in the higher education space the good news was in terms of policy changes; in the latter half of last year, the government allowed online degrees to become a norm for universities that are among the top 100 in NIRF rankings; the government aims to increase the gross enrolment ratio. This has helped edtech companies such as ours gain substantially. From last November till March this year, we hired more than 300 employees; we are looking to hire 50-75 people per month now.

Would you still call TalentEdge a start-up?

We are funded by a large family; our funding requirements as of now are minimal, but we will go for fund-raise in the second half of this year, not for survival but to be able to tap the opportunities we see in the online education space.

How many people have you trained over the last eight years?

Across our learning channels, including corporate business and learning business and degree certification, we have trained about 5 lakh learners.

In addition to numbers, we’ve noticed that a lot of learners are coming from smaller cities and towns; as the penetration of the internet is increasing in rural India, so is the interest in online learning.

What are the challenges edtech might face as it reaches the hinterland?

For rural Indians, access to the internet (device) as well as access to educational content in their local language will be a challenge, and this will happen in the next 12-14 months. So, edtech companies need to start preparing for the vernacular challenge.

Are a majority of your learners sponsored by their employers?

To the contrary, 85-90% of our learners are those who self-pay for courses; people have realised that their upskilling is their responsibility, and not of their employers.

Can edtech replace schools, colleges and universities?

Edtech complements classroom education, it cannot replace that. The way forward is blended education, where edtech supports schools, colleges and universities.

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