Abhay, a skilled problem solver and first principles thinker has over 10 years of dynamic experience in Ed-Tech, E-Commerce, Retail and Facility Management. In his entrepreneurial journey, he has built and scaled 3 startups and a retail conglomerate. Abhay has a deep passion for solving the career-related issues on both job seeker’s and employer’s side. Over the period of last 10 years, he has built a good understanding of higher education, Career Management and Ed-Tech. He has closely worked with more than 250 Engineering and Management institutions and 200+ recruiters. He has also worked with 5000+ students, career professionals and 1000+ mid-level and senior industry experts building various training and learning solutions.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck two years ago, our economies were woefully unprepared. This was especially evident in the education system, which had remained stagnant for decades, reliant on brick-and-mortar setups and lacking in innovation and technological adoption. However, as the year 2021 comes to an end, the education industry has undergone significant changes with ed-tech companies achieving milestones after garnering great acceptance.
This acceptance is evident, especially among the investors. Considering the figures from the last 3 years, India saw $4 billion flowing into EdTech in 2020 and into 2021, as compared to $0.5 billion in 2019. At present, we proudly boast of 5 EdTech unicorn companies in India.
Other than the pandemic shutting people inside their homes, the growing dissatisfaction with the traditional classrooms failing to equip candidates with relevant skills and structured knowledge within the time of job availability is a major driving force behind the growth of Edtech companies in our country.
In this regard, the New Education Policy (NEP) in 2021 was an essential step for India’s education to move forward this year.
It is a forward-looking change after 34 years of stagnancy that is intended to make the country truly representative of the 21st century, as it recognizes technology for its benefits to the education industry.
NEP’s provision of incorporating vocational classes at the school level has exposed students to various careers at a young age and helped them see vocational careers in a more positive light. The NEP also mentioned the inclusion of vernacular languages in education, which will expand the horizons of students from different backgrounds. Even in higher education, the end of rigid streams like Science, Arts, and Commerce is an important step in building a choice-based, personalized education system.
As a result of gaining a lot of support from the government, the ed-tech industry attracted global investors and India became one of the top three countries in the world to receive venture capital funding in the Edtech sector, after China and the USA. In the last five years, the industry has attracted US$ 4 billion in private equity investments.
According to Tracxn, a platform that tracks startups and private companies in India, there are more than 6,950 EdTech startups.
The larger cause of this massive growth is not a surprise.
In the wake of the pandemic’s indefinite closing of educational institutions internationally, digital education became more popular as people had little alternative. Thus, students’ appetite for online learning grew remarkably during this period, leading all educational institutions, no matter how big or small, to adopt hybrid approaches involving technology. As the world was learning through screens, submitting assignments, taking exams, attending classes on video-conferencing, the online-based education took no time to become the norm.
It’s safe to say that in India, the pandemic-struck years of 2020 and 2021 were also a time of revolution in education, as a number of limitations that had existed for long in our education system surfaced, and were addressed by innovators in the ed-tech sector. With accelerated adoption of the solutions involving industry-expert coaching, skill-based learning, reskilling, short-term courses, affordability, and distance learning, served as solutions to the long-existing problems of – lack of quality higher education, skill-based learning, resources, finance, and accessibility.
The shortcomings of the traditional education system and other economic factors explain the Gross Enrolment Ratio of a mere 27.4% in the enrollment of higher education in India, a leading cause of high unemployment rates.
Due to lack of industry-specific knowledge, high skill gaps exist among the Indian youth that became more apparent during the accelerated adoption of new technologies with the pandemic, leading to severe job losses in 2020 and the havoc wreaked by the second wave in April this year.
This situation surged the unemployment rates to 24 percent during the first Covid wave in 2020 because of the nationwide lockdown. Even without a national lockdown, this year, the unemployment rate rose from 8 percent in April to over 14 percent in May under the impact of the dangerous second wave.
The only ray of hope came with the drop in cases in the second half of the year, when the unemployment rate declined from 8.3% in August to 6.9% in September, the highest in 20 months or since the Covid-19 shock in March 2020.
Hence joblessness was soaring due to job losses and business failures, online courses because of an orientation towards the job market emerged and were adopted at a good scale to solve the problem in time and need.
As a result, the ed-tech space previously dominated by the K-12 segment is now witnessing strong growth in the post-K-12 segment. The post-K12 market is set to grow 3.7X to touch $1.8 billion.
Currently, in the higher education sector, most online education courses focus on artificial intelligence, data science, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, and machine learning, according to a study by KPMG India and Google.
The trend was not limited to technology-related courses, but also to finance, law, accounting, and general management.
What differentiates these online courses from the traditional ones is the term “outcome” – which is the key concept of online learning and is sometimes used interchangeably with the terms “competency”, “standards”, “benchmarks”, and “attainment targets”. Through gamification, communities, flip classrooms, and discussion forums, the learning experience is aimed to be more holistic in the online classrooms as compared to the offline ones.
Additionally, with the assistance of technology, online learning is more efficient, transparent, personalized, scalable, and accountable and provides learners the opportunity to improve their skills and be job-ready in less time than they would spend at universities, trying to earn their degrees for years.
As a result of the implementation of online-based courses and its growing acceptance among career-seeking individuals, talent suddenly became borderless. Indians were being hired by companies across Europe, and youth in India from Tier 2 / 3 towns were working for companies in Tier 1 cities, helping the unemployment to shrink.
With continuous learning becoming a need of the present and the future world, these short-term upskilling certifications are finding validation in the big organizations as well. Many of them are in fact introducing intra-organization upskilling and reskilling opportunities for their employees to familiarize them with emerging technologies to catch up without sacrificing their productivity.
COVID-19 is hence giving us a glimpse of how disruptors of yesterday can become lifeguards of today.
With investments, acquisitions, upgrades, and more players quickly embracing digital, the digital learning movement is accelerating in our country.
Consequently, the education industry in general and the EdTech space, in particular, will see many innovations in the next few years.
According to a report by Mumbai-based ed-tech-focused VC firm BLinC Invest, the Indian ed-tech market is expected to reach more than USD 3.5 billion by 2022, nearly five times the USD 735 million it was in 2019.
As part of this growth, better technology will be employed to make the learning process even more personalized and efficient.
In higher education institutions, data analytics are already being used to identify students who may need more support before they begin their learning process.
Additionally, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are also getting popular. Using augmented reality, interactive learning platforms provide students and teachers with a more engaging classroom experience. Ultimately, technology has been introduced into education to enhance its quality and effectiveness.
Hence, given all the advancements that have taken place in Ed-tech, the year 2022 looks bright, as thousands of innovators are preparing to come up with creative solutions to the problems that exist in the education industry, in order to make the delivery of education easier and help learners maintain relevance for a long time by learning market-oriented skills.
These advancements indicate that the future of education is already here; all that needs to be done is to ensure that it can be accessed by all in ways that benefit them.