For professionals with full-time jobs, they, like everyone else, have suffered the same fate when it comes to education during the Covid-19 pandemic. Online learning has become the norm for anyone seeking qualified education over the past seven months, including working professionals.
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown light upon many opportunities and has seen a rampant change in the job scenario. While certain skills fell off the edge, there has been a demand for new and evolved skills.
For professionals with full-time jobs, they, like everyone else, have suffered the same fate when it comes to education during the pandemic. Online learning has become the norm for anyone seeking qualified education over the past seven months, including working professionals.
E-learning gave learners complete ownership of their learning journey
According to Nikhil Barshikar, Founder of Imarticus Learning, skill retraining and upskilling programmes, whether sought personally or sponsored by employers, have been conducted almost exclusively via the internet. “And the global demand for such online professional training programmes has increased a hundredfold,” he said.
“Online courses in AI, Data Analytics, FinTech, and many more are highly coveted these days,” Barshikar said.
Given the fallout of the pandemic, working professionals are seeking to upgrade their technical skills or learn a new technical skill altogether as they strive to remain job-relevant.
According to Ravi Kaklasaria, Founder & CEO, SpringPeople, e-learning has given learners complete ownership of their learning journey. “It has made them proactive in their upskilling and reskilling initiatives,” he said.
With the increasing rate of unemployment and layoffs, Kaklasaria said people are becoming more and more receptive to improve their own skill sets to future-proof their career and learning has become a necessity now.
After Covid dies down, edtech leaders opine the lessons learned can be taken further. The infrastructure changes that the education technology platforms made during the pandemic will enable them to more easily conduct the operations.
As put by Ramandeep Arora, Founder & CEO, edWisor, ramping up the server infrastructure, better engineering capabilities, and adherence to the cloud server infrastructures will be much needed in times ahead.
On the same line, online learning institution Harappa Education saw a 511% month-on-month increase in its active learner base since March 2020.
Shreyasi Singh, Founder & CEO of Harappa Education, said, “We’ve even seen a 739% month-on-month increase in new sign ups in our first quarter itself. There’s also been a 997% increase in course completions since the first lockdown was imposed.”
Even when things start to go back to the old normal, Singh believes edtech is here to stay for good. “Its success lies in the ability to make access to learning a part of every professional’s schedule. The biggest advantage is the flexibility online learning provides to learners,” she said.
Women executives still face both outside and internal pressures
A study by McKinsey and Lean-In found women are four times more likely than men to feel like they have fewer opportunities than men in the workplace. As such, Arora said women executives are not usually encouraged to take up such courses due to both outside and internal pressures.
“They also significantly struggle to adapt to the rapidly changing tech landscape due to lack of upskilling opportunities,” he said.
Likewise, a study by 365 Data Science reveals that 70% of all data scientists are men. Speaking on the same, Kaklasaria said, “There is an alarming shortage of women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field despite various diversity schemes for their representation in organisations. We see this shortage reflected in our course attendance too.”
With the pandemic and people increasingly moving to the work from home (WFH) status, the external pressures have decreased and women can seem to come into applying for courses. Arora predicts, “The rise of online learning and its easy accessibility will see the growth of female executives in the Data Science fields.”
Shreyasi Singh said, “Online learning is also removing barriers of access to quality education especially for those who may not be able to afford a career gap to upskill themselves, and those who work in cities where quality education isn’t available.”
Edtech experts say due to the steadily growing popularity of online education, more and more female professionals are empowering themselves with high-quality online skill training and forging their paths in the tech world.
“From our experience, we have noticed a year-on-year increase in the number of young women enrolling in our state-of-the-art tech training programmes and going on to secure job placements at multinational companies. Many of our brightest and most successful alumni are female professionals,” said Barshikar from Imarticus Learning.
Tech savviness will be a prerequisite in post-pandemic times
Since e-learning has a similar norm for all, irrespective of location, status, or wealth, online education enables educators to tailor the learning experience and content based on the needs and abilities of individual learners.
With the existing discrepancies in the Indian educational system, Barshikar said, “a uniform approach to teaching is not the solution, and online learning provides a much more targeted educational journey.”
Following the same, Arora from edWisor opined that teaching has moved on from teacher-centric to learner-centric, “which means the content given to the student has to not only be top-notch but also appeal to the student as well.”
He further said, “For a more discerning public, their content during learning is expected to be of the best quality and learning has to be tailored to the individual.”
Experts say tech-savviness will be a prerequisite for most employees as the post-pandemic times are going to operate in an increasing technology landscape. And organisations can do well to proactively encourage learning, and make continuous learning a part of the culture.
Going forward, Kaklasaria, said, “we are going to see a lot of organisations with cross-functional teams, which means that they are going to prefer employees who are willing to be the jack of all trades who can lend their expertise in more than one key areas.”
As per Barshikar, there are several steps an organisation can take to inculcate a culture of learning among its ranks. He said, “From simple incentives like offering financial rewards and assuring promotions, to more elaborate initiatives which may involve personal fulfilment, travel, new career paths, etc,” spirit of learning can always be robustly maintained.
Highlighting the adoption of human approach and elements, Singh from Harappa Education pointed out four aspects that will play a key role in keeping organisations agile: developing a continuous learning mindset, collaborating effectively, communicating clearly, and managing employee wellbeing.
“Organisations will also need to re-design training programmes to provide essential behavioural skills that will help employees think, solve, communicate, collaborate, and lead effectively. These habits are crucial for professional success, especially under the current circumstances,” she added.