Job uncertainty pushes working professionals to upskill themselves through online courses

Annapurani V Chennai | Updated on June 01, 2020 Published on June 01, 2020

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Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science programmes find increasing preference


With layoffs, furloughs and paycuts rising by the day across sectors, many are panicking over their livelihood, and are taking to online learning during the lockdown to stay ahead of the curve. Working professionals, new graduates and even college students are scrambling to stay on top of their game. They have been upskilling themselves through online courses on ed-tech platforms to stay relevant.

Great Learning Academy has been seeing a 2X growth week on week, said Hari Krishnan Nair, its co-founder. The platform offers offers courses in data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, among others, for free. It was launched in March 2020, by Great Learning, an Ed-tech company, founded in 2013.

Nair said they have been seeing registrations grow by 3X over the last two months across their offerings, adding, “We have seen a major interest for programmes in Data Science and Business Analytics (DSBA) followed by Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning (AIML) and Data Science and Engineering (DSEFT). Over the past 3 weeks, there has also been a massive spike in the demand for courses in cloud computing, cybersecurity and digital marketing.”

Surge in demand

Krishna Kumar, founder & CEO, Simplilearn, said they have been seeing a 30 per cent jump in enrolments from the December/January period to the March/April period, and that the majority of their learner base consists of IT professionals in the age group of 25-40 years. “With universities and colleges closed, we have also seen final-year students enrolling for programmes to enhance their skills and prepare themselves for the future job market,” Kumar added.

upGrad’s learner base grew by 54 per cent in April compared with January, and its app downloads also increased by over 75 per cent post the lockdown, noted Arjun Mohan, its CEO – India. The platform’s recently launched free programmes in technology, data and management have also recorded more than 40,000 enrolments.

In India, the number of weekly nanodegree graduates has more than tripled from the week ending March 22 through the end of April, said Gabriel Dalporto, CEO, Udacity. The ed-tech platform’s nanodegree programme is a project and skills-based online learning credential programme. Dalporto added that their most popular programmes in India are Data Structures and Algorithms, and Deep Learning.

The new normal

A majority of the online learners are from cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and the likes. These online learning platforms have been seeing a massive interest not only from early and mid-level professionals across sectors, but also from college students preparing for placements and fresh graduates.

upGrad’s Mohan said that the ongoing economic slowdown has made working professionals extremely sceptical of the job environment in 2020 and is creating an urgent need for them to upgrade themselves and stay in the top 50 per cent of the workplace. He added that with more and more recruiters hiring students who got their degrees online, the age-old perception of online learning being less credible will cease to exist. “We have come to an era where reskilling and upskilling are the new normal.”

For people who've lost their jobs due to Covid, now is the time to learn new skills to prepare for new careers, said Udacity’s Dalporto. “And for those who've been able to keep their jobs, many employers are encouraging their employees to use the time they would have spent commuting to work to upskill themselves. That's why we've seen such increases in sign-ups and sign-ins,” he added.

Learning online will become the new normal, said Great Learning’s Nair. With more and more people adopting online courses, there will be more confidence in people’s ability to learn online. “This change was always coming; the current situation has only expedited this adoption. However, for ed-tech companies, what will be key is the quality of learning they are able to impart. Quality of faculty, learning experience and meaningful outcomes will become the differentiators in the times to come,” Nair added.

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Published on June 01, 2020
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