Ishan Gupta, MD of Udacity India, a global e-learning platform talks about the new Flying Car Nanodegree programme, government partnerships, the future roadmap, and more.
Just two percent of India’s workforce is skilled, compared with 68 percent in the UK, 74 percent in Germany, 80 percent in Japan, and 96 percent in South Korea.
In India, the institutional setup for skills, over the years, has been engineering colleges or industrial training institutes. However, these institutions pay little attention on imparting skills other than those required for the job of an electrician or a fitter.
In a bid to bridge the gap for skilled workforce in the country, Udacity, an e-learning platform has been associating with tech giants like AT&T, Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com, and Cloudera to build technology courses designed to keep pace with advanced and emerging technologies.
Focusing on creating a highly skilled tech workforce in India, the platform, last month, partnered with Google and Pluralsight to train 1.3 lakh students and developers in emerging technologies.
As the year comes to an end, YourStory caught up with Ishan to know upcoming plans for India in 2018. Below are edited excerpts from the interview.
YourStory: How do you think can India prepare its workforce for Jobs of Tomorrow?
Ishan Gupta: I think it’s important to understand that one should always evolve, and people need to upskill for changing technologies. It will take an effort to do that, and this effort will be in many forms. Be it in-house training to colleges doing their own stuff, students doing their own stuff, to employees doing their own stuff, either by themselves or going to some platform to learn. Just like people want to learn, there are many ways where people can learn, depending on what suits them.
YS: Apart from partnering with Google, Infosys and other private giants, will Udacity also collaborate with government institutions to train employees?
IG: We already have an association with Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC), which is a body formed to promote technology education among college students. One of the things we are doing is making our courses available to their partner colleges across the country. Interestingly, TSSC has a relationship with AICTE, under which, if anybody takes a course which is available at TSSC, they actually get an industry training credit. That credit is also available to students who take our Nanodegrees through TSSC, subject to approval from individual colleges. In a nutshell, we are working with organisations where students can take our programmes directly.
Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Udacity to upskill engineering students in the state. The tie-up covers five Udacity Nanodegrees for Andhra Pradesh students to help equip them for better opportunities in the future.
These Nanodegree programmes, which cover multiple courses, feature world-class content co-created by tech giants like Google, Kaggle, Amazon, and AT&T with industry-relevant projects, project reviews, mentorship, and Udacity career services.
YS: Udacity also announced the launch of Flying Car Nanodegree. India is yet to draft a regulation for drone operations. What do you have to say about the scope of this technology?
IG: If you think of a flying car, it’s not only about a flying car. It’s also automation, aviation, and drone technology. Just like a self-driving car, it’s an example of automation. We are already seeing the early applications in e-commerce, for example. Outside India, we are already seeing drone delivery experiments. Dubai started flying taxis. There are multiple applications for these. This is similar to the self-driving car engineering Nanodegrees that we launched two years ago. We were asked - who is using it? But now it’s a buzz word.
The fact that Infosys is working with us to train its employees is because Infosys understands that globally, companies will be working on this. As a leader in IT services, Infosys wants to make sure that its employees are well equipped to be able to complete projects that they will get from their global clients. I think, the flying car will go through same trajectory. How soon? We can’t really say.
At Udacity, we have believed in remaining ahead of the curve, making sure we are investing our resources in technology, not just for today but for tomorrow. Flying cars is a step in that direction for us, just like we took a step ahead in self-driving cars.
YS: If we talk about the roadmap, what are the future plans for Udacity? Any new courses or collaboration we can look forward to in future?
IG: 2018 will be very exciting for us. In 2017, we have seen our business scale up. We have launched multiple courses, both globally as well as in India. Recently, we launched a python course in India – Foundation Nanodegree in Python and a programme in Augmented Reality. We are soon launching a programme in Big Data.
In 2018, we plan to launch many more courses in India which will be suitable for the Indian audience. We have exciting plans to increase our course portfolios for India. We will also look to scale up our enterprise business relationship, and also with governments. We have a Google scholarship, so 2018 will also be about that. We have to make sure that people who are interested in mobile and web technologies are able to make best use of the Google-Udacity scholarship.
YS: Any new scholarship plans in the pipeline for Indian students?
IG: I think an interesting area for us right now is the two scholarship programmes that we have launched. UCollege Programme is for students who belong to UGC or AICTE-affiliated colleges. Our intention was to help students prepare for Jobs of Tomorrow. We know that during the winter break, students prepare for interviews, internships, and invest time in their career. Therefore, we announced our Ucollege scholarship in the winter. Udacity globally attracts many working professionals, but in India, we attract students who want to build career in technology.