India: Learning Job Skills the Networked Way
Cloud-based video and collaboration technologies are helping India's youth prepare for life and jobs in the global workplace.
November 21 , 2011
It shouldn't be hard to fill a job vacancy in a country with 1.2 billion people, right? Think again. In a study this year from the recruitment consultancy Manpower, 67 percent of employers in India said they had difficulty filling jobs—the highest level of any of the 39 countries surveyed, except for Japan. The problem in India is that huge swaths of the population lack the skills necessary to work in the country's IT services and business process outsourcing sectors.
Technology is helping to change this, as increasingly pervasive broadband is allowing Indians to learn online and acquire tech skills that can help them get jobs after they leave school. A startup called Excellere is taking advantage of India's growing broadband capabilities to foster online learning.
Excellere plans to use cloud-based infrastructure to provide virtual labs where students can learn new software languages and products that they can use at IT services and business process outsourcing companies. "You don't just get the manual," says Excellere founder Vivek Agarwal.
Being able to provide this kind of skills development environment online will not only save money for Indian corporations, but also allow students to learn whenever or wherever suits their needs, instead of having to attend classes.
And Agarwal does not foresee connectivity being a problem. "The whole telecommunications industry was nonexistent in India 11 years ago," he says. "It used to cost an arm and a leg to make a call. Now you get decent wireless connectivity on the mobile networks. All we are doing is building light solutions."
While Excellere is focusing on a very pressing need in the Indian market—the requirement to give IT services job candidates the right skills—there is no reason why similar platforms cannot help in other areas of education, in India and elsewhere.
Agarwal notes that his learning platform is also being used to deliver high-school mathematics and Spanish tutorials in the United States.
Cisco is working with the Indian state of Karnataka to deliver curriculum-based teaching to five government schools using a platform called Cisco Education Enabled Development (CEED), which is based on technologies such as video and WebEx collaboration.
There is growing interest in similar systems in other areas of India and in other countries, such as Mexico and Bhutan. The technology platform used for education can also be used for applications such as distance-enabled healthcare.
The Bhutanese are even interested in using it to improve their equivalent of gross domestic product: gross national happiness. If that happens, cloud technology will be putting smiles on the faces of more than just jobseekers and employers.
Jason Deign is a freelance writer located in Barcelona, Spain.
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