'It is our vision to create the largest pool of Business 4.0 skilled industry-ready youth and thereby uniquely position India as a Global Talent Hub for the skills required across the industries.' - Venguswamy Ramaswamy.
Digital education in India is in its transformational phase and a lot more can be done by all the stakeholders in the education ecosystem – government, EdTech providers, educational institutions, startups, etc. to ensure that digital tools are accessible to every learner in the country. In an interview with ETGovernment's, Manish Arora, Venguswamy Ramaswamy, Global Head, TCS iON shares his views towards the future of digital education system in India
What are the key focus of TCS iON?
We are a strategic unit of Tata Consultancy Services focused on enabling digital transformation for all educational institutions, corporates, government departments and govt. organizations across multiple industry sectors in their recruitment/admission process, assessments, learning/skilling and overall business operations to help them achieve benefits of speed, scale, security and user experience. We largely operate in three areas: Learning, Assessment and Business operations.
Till date, we have assessed over 211.5 Million candidates and over 4.64 Million learners leverage our learning solution on our TCS iON Digital learning platform.
Be it high stake exams, large-scale online recruitment/promotional exams, digital classes, phygital skilling or digitization of records, we offer a wide range of solutions to government departments & organizations. We have a vast experience in helping Indian govt. organizations adopt innovative technology solutions for their requirements. We helped railways conduct their first digital assessment half a decade back and have since maintained a strong partnership. In a bid to contribute to India’s skill mission, more recently we partnered with National Career Service (NCS), a labor and employment ministry project and other skill institutions to empower skill learners with uninterrupted learning by the way of leveraging our digital tools and products.
What are the key aspects of TCS iON partnership with Telangana State Council of Higher Education (TSCHE)?
Under this partnership, a rich set of curated courseware is accessible through the TCS iON Digital Learning Hub. This will be made available free of cost to approximately 4 lakh students, across 1500 higher education institutions in the state of Telangana, effective this academic year.
These courses cover a plethora of topics which will improve the employability quotient of students and equip them to compete in the job market after they graduate. The learning will be self-paced and the courses are accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device, through the TSCHE website.
The end objective of this partnership is to prepare college students of the state for future job readiness. We are committed to providing an array of learning tools that will help boost the youth of the state in a progressive way. We have also collaborated with Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE) to improve employability of the students in the state.
We commend TSCHE and APSCHE state’s leadership for their vision and for providing the state’s future citizenry with state-of-the-art tools and skills that are aligned with current industry needs and look forward to working with more states.
How can you play a role in ensuring job readiness to tackle India’s employability and under employability problem post lockdown?
In the current digital era, rapid industry transformations have led to a dearth of talent who possess industry relevant skills for current and future requirements on various evolving domains and technologies, required to sustain in this competitive environment. Coupled with the huge impact ongoing pandemic is going leave us with, this can have a far-reaching impact on our Indian labor force.
It is our vision to create the largest pool of Business 4.0 skilled industry-ready youth and thereby uniquely position India as a Global Talent Hub for the skills required across the industries.
To achieve this vision, there is a compelling need to bring academia and industry on a single platform to deliver immense value for all stakeholders – students, academic institutions, and corporates. Towards this, we have envisioned multiple offerings for working professionals and students in the form of academic-course enhancements, digital internships, and skilling certification & programs. Few key offerings we have launched recently are:
TCS iON Industry Honour Certification (IHC) program enables academic-course enhancement by offering many industry-designed courses aligned to academic curriculum in collaboration with best academicians from leading academic institutions and industry experts.
TCS iON Remote Internships (RIO) offering a portfolio of “location-free” industry internships on trending topics and imparts real-life, technical, social, employability and industry practical skills.
Besides this, we also launched a free self-paced skilling program called Career Edge. It consists of Nano videos, case studies and assessments that will help the learners understand and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Career Edge also carries useful recorded webinars hosted by TCS to make it interesting and practical. The program can be accessed anywhere, anytime and on any device - cellphones, laptops, desktops, and tablets. Like TSCHE and APSCHE, we are working to partner with several other states and skilling organizations to provide tailor made solutions to the youth of the country.
Employability challenges are not limited to our country and we will continue to work towards finding every way we can to enhance the access of relevant skilling to youth worldwide.
What are your views about Digital Education in India? Where do we stand and what needs to be done?
The pandemic has pushed educational institutes to adopt alternative methods of learning, and they are just getting warmed up to the new normal of Digital Education.
Digital education in India is in its transformational phase and a lot more can be done by all the stakeholders in the education ecosystem – government, EdTech providers, educational institutions, startups, etc. to ensure that digital tools are accessible to every learner in the country.
The government runs a very large part of our education system. They must adopt digital education and make the platform, content and methods available to every school. Few state governments must take a lead in demonstrating adoption of digital education to the rest of the country.
As we adopt digital tools, learning and teaching methods too will need to change, upgraded to a new virtual learning set up. At TCS iON, we believe that by getting the teacher & student before a screen is not enough, we need to understand and upgrade various elements of a physical class that might not apply to a virtual classroom.
The education system has primarily followed a teacher-centric (mostly one-way) approach to education. This is the time for all of us to move from teacher-centric physical classroom to student-centric digital glass-rooms. It is an opportunity for us to nurture and develop self-learning behavior in the students. This will broaden their thinking, stimulate curiosity and cultivate a higher level of interest. Thus, whole new set of methods and practices are emerging. They are more interactive, gamified, visually rich, personalized and hands-on. This takes the learning effectiveness to a completely new level.
The journey of digital education in India (and globally) is bound to take a huge leap in the coming years as many have realized the need for digital as an enabler for better education. Though there could be a few roadblocks - mindset change, resistance to changing age-old teaching and learning practices, we believe things will change quickly as academicians, technologists and industries work together to create a strong digital ecosystem for education. We are already seeing many Educational Institutions take the lead in their digital journey.
Do you think that we will be able to use technology for education in tier 2 and tier 3 cities?
Two decades ago, everyone spoke about the urban Indian, who had a white-collar secure job. Businesses largely targeted households with a lot more disposable incomes and competed with each other to capture these next-gen modern Indians. Today, affordable access to the internet, smartphone penetration and e-commerce have changed everything.
With over 530 million internet users, India has the second largest internet user base in the world today. Internet penetration is bridging the gap between consumers residing in tier-I and lower tier cities. According to statista, the lower tiers comprise around 77 percent of the internet user base in India.
Be it FinTech or e-commerce, tier-II and tier-III markets are driving consumption for every sector, and we believe, within no time, they will quickly be the largest consumer of the online learning space too.
Moreover, for education to be better accessible, several states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and many others are now working to adopt digital in an impactful way. There is a push from the government as well to impart education through the digital route to tier 2 and 3 cities.
While the resources are being deployed, ensuring efficiency and quality is going to be a key challenge, and we are playing an active role in enabling this transformation around the world.