Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched Skill India mission keeping in mind the increasing demand for technologically sound and skilled workforce. The Economic Survey 2014-15 stated that as per the Labour Bureau Report 2014, the present skilled workforce in India is only 2 per cent. Siddarth Bharwani, Director, Jetking, talks about skill gap in IT industry, smart cities and more in interaction with Akash Sinha. Edited excerpts:
What’s the main hurdles in Skill India mission?
Before we get up into the specifics of the skill gap it is important to understand the shortcomings in the current education system in the country and how they are impacting skill development.
We tend to train our students from a young age that “Getting Good Grades” is all that matters. The current system focuses on bookish knowledge and not enough stress is laid on practical approach to learning. Further the study material lacks engaging content and in some cases is even outdated.
India’s youth which forms a majority of the population is the advantage country needs to leverage. One of the main challenges that we see with such initiatives is that training provides help to ensure that an individual lands a job. However it does not factor in overall development of an individual. For e.g: Today, IT industry is increasingly adopting automation, hence just being technically sound is not enough, individuals need to upgrade their skills so that they remain relevant in the job market. Hence, a holistic approach to training is essential so that individuals are able to create a career path for themselves in the challenging corporate environment.
Can you elaborate on the skill gap specifically in the IT industry?
A report by Nasscom and Zinnov Management Consulting states that India is the fourth largest base for young businesses in the world and home to 3,000 tech start-ups, which is set to increase its base to 11,500 tech by 2020. The industry employs about 10 million Indians and continues to contribute significantly to the social and economic transformation in the country.
Further, emerging technologies present an entire new gamut of opportunities for IT firms in India. Social, mobility, analytics and cloud (SMAC) collectively provide a US$ 1 trillion opportunity for IT firms. However, the rapid changes in technology over the years have unfortunately not been reflected in the curriculum, which has contributed to the rising skill gap. The lack of in-depth understanding of concepts and client-handling skills are the major skill gaps in this area. With adoption of automation by IT companies rising, we are already seeing an increase in job cuts, hence the talent needs to re-skill/upgrade to ensure they continue to remain employable.
What is your current business plan?
We are currently an $11 mn company and growing at a rate of 25% on an YoY basis and net profit has grown 3 times (as on June 30, 2015) over the last quarter. We look forward to growing faster in the next few years. We currently offer 2 career courses and multiple short term courses. We plan to expand this to 20 courses in the forthcoming years. The IT industry is growing rapidly in the country and we plan to open 300 centers in the country through owned and franchisee model (90% franchisee and 10% owned) in the next 5 years. These centers will be opened in Tier I and II cities, metros and mini-metros in states like Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu amongst others.
How come the idea of setting Jetking online school of technology (JOST) evolved?
Jetking online school of technology (JOST) is our e- learning platform that enables responsive learning. It provides a robust environment to deploy and manage e-learning courses as well as to create and deliver tests and assessments. A student can login, collaborate and take an online course while faculty can conduct classes, record attendance and conduct exams. This learning management system has created seamless integration for delivery of up-to-date content along with simulation based learning. The entire platform is cloud-enabled and mobile-enabled and we will shortly launch courses in self learning environment as well as mobile interfaces through JOST.
Is Jetking planning to go completely online abolishing its brick and mortar presence?
In the IT industry, just knowing concepts is not enough and the talent needs to be able to apply this knowledge in their work. Hence we cannot disregard the brick and mortar model yet as experiential learning is facilitated by performing practicals in a supervised environment.
Online learning standard has not gained steam, further free MOOC and content currently lacks depth. Hence we believe that the future of education is hybrid, entails a mix of online and classroom learning and not restricted to online or offline itself. At Jetking, we are leading this change through innovation in training practices, keeping in line with the changing demand.
Has Jetking been able penetrate the overseas market? Will it go solo or in any joint venture?
Jetking already has presence in international markets such as Vietnam and Nepal. We are planning to enter the African market. We are a franchisee driven model and will continue to work with local partners in new markets also. Insights from our local partner on needs and challenges in their areas/countries helps us design and offer a customized approach for each market.
What made Jetking collaborate with TestOut?
TestOut is a renowned e-learning company based out of Utah, USA and has been a key player in the online learning space in the US. We are pleased that TestOut has launched their first partnership in India with Jetking. Our collaboration with TestOut has further strengthened our leadership position by venturing into the online training space. With more than 300 licenses already sold, the Jetking-TestOut collaboration will be a key part of our training portfolio in the near future.
How do you view the concept of smart cities?
According to research by McKinsey, the ‘Digital India Initiative’ could help boost India’s gross domestic product (GDP) by $550 billion to US$ 1 trillion by 2025. However a Digital India to be a reality will require a seamless network across various touch points in the country. The IT & IMS space will form a backbone of initiatives such Digital India and Smart Cities and needs to keep pace with newer technologies such as SMAC. There is also a need for innovative teaching methods, advanced courses, exceptional faculty to create globally competent IT professionals who will not only be able to address the challenges of today but also of tomorrow.