Why India’s fintech community needs to use technology to bridge the skills gap
Startup India has not quite been the success story that we had all hoped it would be. Many entrants in the first boom of entrepreneurship that started five years ago have fallen by the wayside either because of inadequate capital availability or poorly researched opportunity analysis.
However, the second wave of startups has shown reasonable traction and there is reason to believe that India will see not just a dozen more unicorns but also a few thousand successful startups across all sectors.
The new success stories will not just be in digital commerce and deep tech products but across all sectors of the traditional and digital economy. And there is no sector more promising in this regard than fintech. This segment of the economy has already crossed a billion dollars in annual revenue and is expected to double in 2020, and keep growing till it touches $20 billion and more by 2030.
The fintech boom can be attributed to the maturing of the financial sector in the country, on the heels of the silent transformation that is happening in banks, financial services, and insurance worldwide.
Paucity of talent
However, this high-growth sector, like many others, is likely to have its ambitions thwarted by the paucity of talent and the extremely poor infrastructure in the country for creating a large pool of talent that can build new companies and meet the fast-growing need for talent.
Do we know what it takes to build an environment of learning where youth have access to content and technology that accelerates their learning of industry-relevant concepts? While this is true for all sectors, the fintech industry needs this issue to be addressed as a priority by the government and the private sector.
In the last two decades, many attempts have been made by both the government and the corporate sector to bridge the gap between industry expectations and what is taught at academic institutions and skilling centres in the country.
An early attempt by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Western India where industry leaders were encouraged to work closely with second-tier academic institutes bore fruit. Participating institutes were able to build bridges with corporations and also benefit from industry involvement in faculty upgrades and student connects to enable industry confidence to develop ahead of the placement season.
For the last five years and more, some training institutions like Global Talent Track, through their unique “source and train” model, have demonstrated that even second-tier academic institutes from smaller cities and towns can produce good quality human resources, if connections to job-giving industry participants can be made early.
Experiments in education
There have been many technology experiments in education, be it Doordarshan’s early country-wide classroom or Zee Telefilms’ Zee Education, which used the power of the television medium to reach out on an all-India basis, to the recent Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS). This has led to a modicum of success in well-implemented instances at excellent institutes like IIM.
E-Learning has, however, seen single-digit percentage course completion rates with a general apathy towards learning without physical or live interventions. Some new initiatives have begun with the use of contemporary technologies like artificial intelligence, learning analytics, and adaptive learning to customise learning methods and outcomes to the specific needs of individual learners.
An example from the Skills Alpha platform should serve to underline the difference in approach today in the use of technology for learning. They use a “learning bot” as an engagement tool to help enrolled candidates upskill themselves. Such an engagement helps professionals assess their own aspirations and goals, look at alternative learning and career paths, and get thoroughly engaged on a journey of content discovery, opportunity exploration, and learning throughout their tenure in the organisation.
The advantages of platforms like these are three-fold.
First, they are able to move the learning and development discussion from training and content consumption to motivated learning and context creation. While the operations and human resource heads have the opportunity to define career and skills imperatives, the platform leads professionals to a self-discovered and self-paced path that enables them to realise their own aspirations and link them to the organisation plan.
Second, the use of new technologies like interactive video, AR and VR, and the ability of platforms to adapt content that is served in an individual’s learning style (extensive videos rather than presentations for example) make the whole process pleasant and experiential.
And finally, the application of cognitive tools, starting with the “bot” and extending to a host of new technologies makes the efficacy of learning and organisation development rise while substantially reducing the cost of training.
As a nation, we need to realise that adaptive and personalised learning solutions delivered through technology platforms are the roadmap for the future. NASSCOM, through its pioneering Future Skills initiative, is already doing this for IT workers. Can fintech do the same?
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)