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Why Skilling up Today will Ensure a Brighter Tomorrow Upskilling increases the prospects of taking on key leadership roles in organizations

By Nikhil Barshikar

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Formal education has evolved over several centuries, from being a bastion of institutions and traditionalism to a more democratic pursuit that is open to anyone with the will to learn. Aristotle conveyed this thought quite succinctly when he said, "The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet." Today, at the pinnacle of the information age, education has substantially progressed from the time when students relied heavily on rote learning without critical thinking, till the present when there is an abundance of innovative tools that have a significantly greater impact on learning. The role of technology, then, in facilitating this evolution is undeniable, as it has fundamentally changed the way information is accessed and applied by students in an increasingly hybrid learning environment.

In India, ed-tech (education technology) has ushered in a new age of democratization of education for students across various levels of academics, making educational content easily accessible in various formats. When earlier, students in smaller towns and villages had to travel a long way to the college or university library to be able to access books and other learning material, today, information is available in massive volumes on the internet, be it books, research, audio, images, or video, and can easily accessed simply with the click of a button. Furthermore, access to formal education has been simplified greatly, enabling the average student in any part of the world to enrol in online degree programs of any educational institution through several MOOC (massive open online course) platforms. Thus, thanks to technology, the scope of learning or gaining opportunities for students today is unprecedented.

How AI and Analytics are Facilitating the Creation of New Learning Paradigms

The integration of Artificial Intelligence with online learning has solved a critical problem for educators; that of effectively engaging students with diverse learning styles. Adaptive learning systems, through machine learning, analyse a student's learning speed, the preferred mode of learning (text, videos, audio, etc) and problem areas to help personalize the content for each individual's unique learning style. In addition, to facilitate a seamless learning experience for students in the absence of classroom learning, natural processing and speech recognition, along with machine learning, can be used to develop conversational programs or chatbots. These chatbots can then perform the function of a virtual tutor to guide students with any doubts or queries pertaining to the course or subjects on a digital learning platform.

With analytics and machine learning, measuring learning outcomes for each student has also become much easier than it was for teachers in a traditional classroom environment. As intelligent systems analyse a student's pace of completing each learning module, and performance in online assessments, they can derive key insights into the way she/he learns. This knowledge aids educators and curriculum designers to unlock the true potential of content and personalisation, and create new learning paradigms that are data-driven, thereby improving the teaching-learning experience radically.

Skilling Up For the Jobs of Tomorrow

There is an evident lack of vocational and skill-based courses in India's higher educational institutions. This is a pressing issue that demands immediate attention, since 90% of the jobs currently in demand are purely skill-based, while only 20% of graduates get employed. According to the India Skills Report 2014, less than 30% students entering the workforce meet the job criteria set by employers. In addition, only 11% of the 550 million people under the age of 25 years are currently enrolled in professional education institutions, in comparison to the world average of 23%.

As technology continues to reinvent entire industries, business processes, and job profiles, online skilling platforms present a gamut of opportunities for students to equip themselves with the right skills and knowledge corresponding to evolving job roles. The BFSI sector (banking, financial services, and investment) in particular presents a plethora of opportunities for young professionals to capitalise on the industry's demand for new-age technologies by acquiring advanced skills such as data analytics, financial analysis, etc. By collaborating with industry leaders across the BFSI spectrum, online learning platforms like Imarticus Learning are enabling professionals and young college graduates to gain key technical skills pertaining to data and financial analytics, investment and insurance technology, as well as knowledge of global financial trading with certifications and validations from prestigious names in the industry.

The combination of high-quality content, real-time learning and feedback methods, and personalised instructions has led online learning to its pinnacle. Digital learning tools allow students to access the vast repository of educational content that is available in the public or private domains in a streamlined manner and learn at the pace that suits them. This is also a major factor in drawing more professionals onto online learning platforms to upskill and enhance their career prospects and thrive in an increasingly competitive job market. Through upskilling, young graduates preparing to join the workforce, or employed individuals looking for better opportunities can ensure steady career growth in emerging business sectors across the globe. Moreover, upskilling not only increases their prospects of taking on key leadership roles in organizations but also enables them to meet the Indian economy's demand for a highly skilled workforce of the future.

Nikhil Barshikar

Founder and Managing Director, Imarticus Learning

His fifteen year career spans a variety of roles within Investment Banking, all of which culminated in the founding of Imarticus Learning, a leading player in Investment Banking & Data Analytics education. He began his career in the Corporate Finance division of the erstwhile Lehman Brothers at New York, following which he moved to Mumbai to set up Lehman's India operations. He has successfully managed large Operations, Technology, and Project teams at Nomura. His in-depth Investment Banking experience, ranging from strategic design to risk-free transition while handling large people driven organizations, has given him an excellent appraisal of the dilemmas faced by Financial Services and Analytics Consulting firms. This enables him to develop tailor-made strategies and solutions.

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