Since its launch just about a year ago, TikTok has become THE phenomenon in the country -- winning the mindshare of over 200 million people in less than nine months, the fastest by any online platform till date. From youngsters to octogenarians, TikTok has become the go-to place for creative expression. Be it showcasing India as a key global travel destination, showcasing the cool dance moves or lip syncing to iconic dialogues, the reasons why people turn to TikTok are plenty. And, in doing so, TikTok has widened the definition of India’s creative economy to include micro artists, musicians, content generators as opposed to just big media and entertainment businesses and celebrities from showbiz.
In short, TikTok has today become the flag bearer of India’s new creative economy,
Surprisingly, while TikTok began its journey as a pure-play entertainment and creative platform, India’s new creative economy has unearthed a bigger potential -- harnessing the platform to fuel India’s growth story - via skilling.
Why India’s creative economy can help to narrow skill gap
Economic experts say that by 2025, India’s economy is poised to become the third-largest in the world, just behind the US and China. But, there’s a catch. To achieve this position and to keep employment rates constant until 2025, India will also have to create 8.1 million jobs annually as compared to 5.5 million jobs in 2017. In the absence of a skilled workforce, even if India manages to create the said number of job opportunities, it is highly unlikely that this would make a huge difference. A key reason is the widening gap between what skills are being taught today and the skills actually needed for jobs of the future to stay relevant in the face of increasing global competition. While the country’s mainstream education system is trying hard to catch up and make its pedagogy relevant to contemporary needs and bridge this skills gap, there’s much that still needs to be done.
Realising this opportunity and with a view to take on this challenge, the private sector has come forward to pitch in and support the government’s vision. And, in this space, India’s creative economy can play a big role. According to an industry report, the creative economy not only has the potential to be a $100 billion industry within the decade but also narrow India's skill gap by adding 3 million new jobs by 2030.
There are plenty of examples to substantiate how people across the country are leveraging the potential of the creative economy to bridge the knowledge and skills gap, and contributing to India’s progress. For instance, take Awal Madaan, a former marketing and advertising professional who is today better known by his handle @AwalCreations on TikTok, the short video-sharing platform. As a marketing professional, Awal worked with American clients, and that’s when he realised how important it was to have a good command over English to get good jobs in multinational companies. He also realised that people from smaller towns didn’t have the right opportunities to learn English, and so he decided to leverage the platform to teach them. Today, with a base of 5 million followers, Awal’s handle has become the go-to place for millions to learn English. What makes his channel so popular is that Awal explains complex concepts in an easy and interesting manner in Hindi, and often uses humour to drive home the point. Awal’s followers are not just students, but also sales-staff, self-employed individuals and people who want to improve their English skills for professional growth. While it has empowered people from small towns who otherwise don’t have access to quality education like those in metropolitan cities, it has also enabled Awal to earn revenues while also strengthening his personal brand.
The push into educational content to bridge knowledge and skill gap
Like Awal, there are thousands of professionals in the fields of management, finance, law, healthcare, science, engineering, architecture, design, education, arts, music, and entertainment who are creating videos on TikTok for promoting educational content through short videos, teaching simple hacks, or even life lessons to help others. And that push has been further intensified through the #EduTok initiative on the content platform. The content featured under #EduTok has already gained over 42+ billion views and the popularity is only growing, with the platform encouraging more of its 240 million users to join the effort.
In addition to the organic interest shown by content creators towards educational content, TikTok has also partnered with key edutech companies in India like Vedantu, Vidya Guru, Hello English, CETKing and Testbook to encourage subject-focused content creation and learning. This includes content on subjects such as social sciences, English, mathematics, Hindi, biology, as well as current affairs, vocabulary and more. The company says the partnering edutech companies are creating videos in various formats and languages to enable personalised learning for TikTok users, thereby helping them learn and grow as individuals, thrive in their careers and tap new market opportunities. This has meant that TikTok today is increasingly being seen as an educational platform as opposed to a pure-play entertainment platform for India’s netizens.
TikTok’s EduTok is just one of the many examples that illustrate how India’s creative economy is leveraging different mediums and platforms to share their knowledge with a wider audience and empower them. This trend is likely to only grow bigger in a country like India where access to quality educational facilities is still a major bottleneck. As much as it is important to seed knowledge into the economy, it is equally important to enable churning of ideas and knowledge, for it leads to people acquiring new skills, creating new products and services and thereby foster economic growth. And, it is here that platforms like TikTok with their popularity and reach, become enablers of economic activity and growth,