Today, India has been considered as the next Asian giant poised to become a global superpower in the coming decades. Among the myriad of factors that will contribute to India’s steady rise, her demographic dividend will play a major role.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has predicted that by 2020, India will have 116 million workers in the work starting age bracket of 20 to 24 years. They will be the builders and consequently the potential beneficiaries of this promising future. While these figures seem sanguine, it’s disturbing when one is confronted with another set of numbers. Consider this- According to a study, out of 1.5 Million engineers passing out of various colleges in India only 3% are suitable to be employed in software or product market and only 7% in core engineering roles. This reality can certainly spoil the party unless addressed comprehensively. Government alone may not be able to resolve this problem of unemployability. Its efforts at a policy level need to be bolstered at the ground level by far-sighted and passionate entrepreneurs.
With the rapidly growing level of industrialization, many sectors in India are getting heavily reliant on technology and automation to be competitive with their global peers. The rate of change in technology has far outstripped the pace of change in the University curriculum. Apart from the legendary issues related to infrastructure inadequacies, continuously remaining abreast with the latest technologies in the industry is highly challenging for colleges as they primarily focus on covering the basics of a field of study in the fixed duration of the government mandated degree.
In the non-metro cities and towns, the problem of unemployability of graduates is acuter. They are deprived of exposure that comes with proximity to industrial & business centers. Furthermore, youth in small towns, in most cases, do not have the same level of proficiency in English- the de facto business language in India as their counterparts in big metro cities thus affecting the level playing field between the two. This necessitates an intermediary who can identify the gaps between mainstream education and what the industry needs, and accordingly create job-oriented courses to fill those gaps, especially for graduates from smaller towns.
Innolat Has An Answer
“We are in the business of making graduates Industry-ready by improving their employability through our unique personalized blended learning model,” says Tushar Vadera, Co-Founder & CEO of Innolat Technologies, a Raipur-based education technology startup.
According to Tushar, employability of a graduate depends on a combination of his technical skills in his chosen field and behavioral skills that include his interpersonal communication, aptitude, logical reasoning and ability to work in a team. Companies in certain sectors like IT services and software product development insist more on technical skills while KPOs (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) and BPOs (Business Process Outsourcing) prefer excellent communications skills.
Today, even core manufacturing jobs need candidates who are well equipped with latest software technologies. Employee training adds significant costs to companies. India’s largest IT Services provider TCS, for instance, spends 2% of its revenue every year on training new entrants. According to a 2011 study conducted by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) and Harvard Business Publishing (HBP), Indian companies spent USD 331 per employee on training and development. Innolat aims to address this issue as well by helping companies find job-ready candidates thus closing the employment loop.
iLrnn- Innolat’s Personalized Blended Learning Platform
“An internal survey conducted by us revealed that out of the 110 students, 90 had access to the internet. So, reach was not an issue. However, they mostly used this access to browse social media. Learning online was the last thing on their minds” explains Tushar.
He further adds, “Students in smaller towns do not prefer online sources as they have grown up learning offline wherein getting their query instantly resolved is the biggest advantage.”
Innolat’s iLrnn has been designed with these factors in mind. It incorporates customized learning content based on a student’s preferences and strengths provide a mix of online and offline learning to him with an aim to transition completely to online in near future and offers an easy-to-use platform to find suitable jobs.
Most students enrolling at Innolat are not aware of the various profiles needed in the industry beyond the conventional roles. Hence, as a first step, through a mix of its iLrnn platform and face to face interviews, Innolat conducts a screening test to ascertain their skills and weakness areas. Based on the outcome of this test, students are recommended suitable courses that align with their preferred job profiles.
“Learning happens through practical assignments and workbooks. There are no thick course books that you get to see at training institutes. We encourage students to bring their own laptops in the classrooms” remarks Tushar. Along with technical courses, students are exposed to 8–10 mock job interviews to make them confident. Tushar insists on cultivating a mentor-mentee relationship between his faculty and his students. Completion certificates are awarded only on submission of a project that has practical value. For example students of mobile software development course have to create an Android app before they can get their certificates.
Currently, Innolat has 9 courses (includes both technical and behavioral skills) and plans to add 5 more by early 2017. It has a network of 25 plus trainers at its center in Raipur.
Simultaneously with the course, Innolat continuously profiles its students in terms of their attendance, test scores, and project work. They are then ranked on their skills. This information is of great utility to companies looking for fresh hires. Within next 8–10 months, Innolat aims to have all major recruiting companies registered on iLrnn.
Current Impact & Vision of Innolat for Graduates
Since April 2015, Innolat has trained more than 350 students in industry-oriented courses and assisted several of them in getting jobs. “42% of our students come from families that earn less than 3 Lakh (300,000) Rupees per annum” says Tushar proudly. Surbhi Agrawal is one such student who hails from a low-income family in Raipur. She joined Innolat’s course on Android App Development in June 2015. “Today I feel proud to be able to support my family through my job. Enrolling at Innolat was the best decision of my career. It also helped me build my communication skills which boosted my confidence.” she says happily.
Over the next 5 years, Innolat wants to transform iLrnn into a fully AI (Artificial Intelligence) based platform which can not only help students in learning and instant online query resolution but also assist recruiters in finding the most suitable candidates. It aims to connect the dots between skills assessment, learning, and job placement thus offering an end-to-end solution to the problem of unemployability of graduates.
“We want to make 3 Lakh (300,000) students employable by 2020” Tushar signs off.