Budget 2021: 3 pre-budget expectations from the EdTech sector

In 2020, the education industry went through a drastic transformation. The nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic affected several industries, including the education sector. During this period of uncertainty, educational institutions took a new direction. We progressed from traditional methods of imparting education and introduced new teaching methodologies to cope with the situation. Many companies took this perfect opportunity to innovate and integrate technologies, like the cloud-based and AI-based learning services, permanently into their model of learning. While it was difficult for both students and teachers to adapt quickly from a traditional classroom set-up to digital tools, the impact of e-learning has been significant.

The EdTech industry flourished at an accelerated rate as it broke new territory and entered tier 3 and 4 cities of the country. It took only a few months to gain people’s confidence in online learning, which would have easily taken anywhere between 3 to 5 years, if not for COVID-19. People now understand the significant role of technology in education and other aspects of life. In addition to schools and universities, working professionals and higher education students have also turned to EdTech for vocational education. According to YourStory’s survey, Google searches related to EdTech surged by 60% between April and December 2020.

The pandemic has changed the way education was perceived and has spiked the education industry’s digital transformation. In 2021, the education sector will evolve further in terms of technological innovations and newer teaching methodologies. Schools & colleges will continue facilitating digital aids, such as virtual classes, online assessments powered by analytical tools, etc.

For EdTech companies, 2020 enabled them to create a stable base which will be leveraged in 2021. However, much improvement is still required in meeting the needs of learners and educators, ensuring inclusiveness, and incorporating digital infrastructure to improve the quality of online education. EdTech entrepreneurs, from the Union Budget 2021, are expecting the Government to allocate funds to finance the sector and further drive their growth.

The following points sum up the EdTech industry’s expectations from the Union Budget 2021:

  • Access to robust and improved digital infrastructure: Investment in the EdTech industry will go a long way towards making quality education available to everyone through technology. Cutting-edge technologies will enable quality educators to virtually meet and educate students from any region of the country. Strong digital infrastructure and the high availability of smartphones will make quality education accessible to everyone.
  • Lowered GST: If India wants to become a world leader, we need our workforce to be trained in skills of the future like AI, Machine Learning, cyber security, etc. EdTech companies will play a crucial role in making this happen by providing affordable and accessible education options. The government needs to support this through lower taxes.
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): Implementing a 100 % FDI policy in the inventory-based model will enable EdTech companies to acquire more capital. It will allow them to invest in expanding the Research & Development of cutting-edge technologies, which will, in turn, prove beneficial to customers who are dependent upon education facilities and platforms enabled by emerging technologies.

While various industries are still trying to overcome the impact of the pandemic, the EdTech market will continue to grow in 2021, as more people remain dedicated to online learning. As per NASSCOM, the EdTech market in India is estimated to cross $3.5 billion by 2022. In order to continue functioning and growing, the EdTech industry will need improved internet connectivity and robust information security systems. The Union Budget 2021, with several opportunities and efforts in place, is expected to strengthen the EdTech sector.

Evolution of management programmes over the years

We often think of management as the knowledge one acquires when they attend a business school. But think about your day-to-day activities – everything, from your personal finances to human-to-human interaction, that is management too.

Human beings are born managers. We earn degrees primarily to hone and polish this skill and learn how to apply it in the professional world. Naturally, the nature of management would be different from when humankind invented the wheel to the present, where we possess the power of information at our fingertips. Let’s review how management programmes have evolved over the years.

Management: A brief history
Did you know that management studies originated in Portugal and date back to 1755? Yes! The initiative to teach management as a subject started in response to the Lisbon earthquake and the Escola do Comércio was aimed at training public administrators in the art of managing tax and disbursement. Soon enough, the field started gaining traction all over the European continent with management institutes and universities opening in Germany, Sweden, Russia (formerly USSR), France, Austria, Hungary, and Italy.

European migrants spread the word about the science and art of management, and the industrial revolution aided their efforts. Industrialists became patrons of universities and sponsored dedicated trade and commerce departments and business education. Soon, we witnessed the foundation of some of the best universities for MBA, such as Wharton, Harvard, London Business School, and more.

State of management: A contemporary look
Management programmes have come a long way in the last (almost) three centuries. At the same time, books like ‘The Wealth of Nations’ by Adam Smith continue to stay relevant even to this day. So, what has changed and what remains the same?

One of the major transformations in the field was the transition to a scientific approach. Management was no longer about instinctive human ability. Instead, it rested on principles driven by science.

Previously, managers were considered the cream of the crop. They had the reputation of professionals who are clearly better than their subordinates. However, now they have assumed the role of a “servant-leader.” The primary role of a manager now is to serve and work towards the betterment of the workforce. The courses have also changed accordingly.

The diversification in the role of a “Manager” has been the starkest difference so far.

Management for sustenance: The future
With the advent of the 21st century, management studies have already seen a rapid pace of growth through digitisation. Resultantly, online BBA degrees and MBA degrees have made management highly accessible to students and affordable to parents.

Online learning allows the candidate to learn on their own schedule, which makes it highly convenient. Plus, it bypasses the need for moving to a different town or switching jobs. Moreover, students can also choose between an assortment of programmes ranging from accelerated online MBA to MBA for working professionals. Naturally, the world is ready to reap these benefits in the years to come.

Interestingly, these degrees hold the same value and weight as any full-time course. Hence, if you have the passion and the drive, you can apply for top BBA/MBA programmes through online learning.

Since the future is digital, why should the management programme be any different?

Helping your child choose the right management programme after 10+2 in the commerce stream

After completing Class 12 in the commerce stream, parents and students often assume that a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) is the obvious and only choice. However, this is far from true. A programme that has been gaining popularity over the last few years is a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA). This degree programme is especially recommended for those who are looking to enter and climb the corporate ladder.

BBA not only equips students with core business and marketing skills and knowledge but also imparts communication and soft skills. There is also a clear focus on personality development, a key asset in the world of business.

Online BBA degrees
With the shift to online classes, several top universities and management institutions are offering specially designed online BBA degrees. The typical duration of these programmes is three years (spread over six semesters).

Top online BBA programmes offer flexibility, are affordable, and delivered by tenured faculty, who come with rich industry experience. The programme also has guest lectures by industry veterans, and they encourage a mix of classroom and self-learning.

Choosing a credible institution
It is highly advisable to go with a university with a strong and long legacy, as they are backed with the right infrastructure, curriculum, and delivery of the programme. Also, make sure that the programme is accredited and offers a legitimate degree on completion of the course.

To be eligible, students must have completed Class 12 in any stream. Some universities may also have an entrance exam.

Key subjects covered
Online BBA programmes typically cover key business subjects such as Business Statistics, Finance, Operations Management, Business and Industrial Law, and Business Environment.

They cover all the key functions such as marketing, HR, and finance, as well as contemporary fields such as data science, information management as well as domestic and global legal frameworks, which have strong relevance in the business world. Online BBA degrees offered by institutions like Manipal University Jaipur have focused electives on retail and entrepreneurship, for those looking to pursue these paths.

Special emphasis on soft skills
Besides domain knowledge and technical courses, skills such as communication, negotiation, collaboration, and presentation are gaining more and more importance in the world of business. Additionally, workplaces seek those who can bring problem-solving skills and a growth mindset to their job. Online BBA programmes feature these skills as an integral part of the curriculum as they increase the appeal of graduates for employers.

Gain hands-on experience
Practical training and exposure to real-world work and problem-solving is a key aspect of this programme. This happens via summer internships, projects and assignments, guest lectures by industry leaders, and mentorship by alumni. Internships not only help students gain experience in multiple areas of work but also showcase their potential to businesses that are looking to hire entry-level managers during campus placements.

Key job opportunities after BBA
After pursuing an online BBA, graduates can be absorbed as a brand and sales executive, product managers, communications, and PR executives, as well as industry-specific roles in retail such as retail buyers, department managers, warehouse managers, store managers as well as merchandisers. BBA graduates can work across all sectors and groom their career paths in multiple ways based on their interests and acumen.

You can draw a lucrative salary from your first job after obtaining a BBA and accelerate your professional growth.

Entrepreneurship and beyond
Online BBA is also a good programme for those who aspire to start their own businesses, as entrepreneurship is a key subject of the BBA programme at Manipal University Jaipur. For those students looking to join their family business, an online BBA enables the learning of all the key business skills involved in real business scenarios.

A student may also decide to pursue an MBA after their BBA, especially if they wish to specialise in specific areas such as finance, HR, or marketing. 

Campus placement support
Before enrolling for a programme, it is advisable to check if the online BBA offers support and training on aspects such as career guidance, resume writing, internship opportunities as well as campus placement support. Try and gauge whether the institute has strong industry connects as well as an alumni network that graduates can tap into for mentorship, recommendations, and networking.

For those looking to kickstart their careers in the corporate world, the online BBA programme gives a platform to understand all aspects of the real business world. For those who work hard, have a passion to excel, and bring innovation and energy to their work, the sky is the limit with an online BBA programme.

8 reasons to consider an online degree this academic year

Online degree programmes have been gaining relevance for the last five years. Yet, it is only in the last six months that they are being perceived with the recognition and respect they deserve. Another noteworthy trend is that the pandemic of 2020 has nudged top universities in the world to revisit the way they deliver knowledge.

By leveraging technology and contemporary online education models, institutions have redesigned programmes and are delivering world-class education online. Here are some of the key benefits of embracing this trend and deriving the best value from an online degree programme.

1. Stay home, stay safe

The safest way to pursue your education while prioritising health and safety is to enrol yourself for a top-notch online degree programme in the stream or discipline of your choice. Millions of students around the world are opting for this mode and continue to receive an excellent quality of education. This shift also paves the way for the world to recover from the pandemic much faster while not hindering anyone’s right to a good education. 

2. Flexibility that works wonders

A key benefit of the online education model is the flexibility it offers to study at your own pace. Online education also helps students cut down on travel time. Students can opt to pursue a part-time job, volunteering opportunities or a passion alongside an education – all of which contribute to enhancing one’s resume. They can also devote more time to family, especially if they have responsibilities at home. Also, work while studying.

3. Cut down costs but not quality

On-campus and residential education comes with additional costs such as hostel fees, meals, and transportation. If you study outside your home state or move to another city for education, the costs rise even further. Online education cuts down the investment in such additional costs, and you end up only paying for tuition while focusing on the quality of education.

4. Gain work experience while studying

The value of work experience, even before applying for your first official job, is increasing in a competitive business world. Many students are opting to pursue an internship, hands-on project, or freelance opportunities while completing their education. Online education presents the perfect opportunity to balance both activities at once, with a little time management.

For example, Manipal University Jaipur offers an online Bachelor of Business Administration degree programme, which is designed to prepare students for the corporate world. Pursuing the programme, while also doing hands-on management projects gives business students an edge, even over students with a master’s degree but no real-world experience.

5. Access to the best faculty

While the top universities have shifted to online education, the live lectures are still being delivered by the best-in-class faculty. The online mode also enables engagement with a host of industry experts who can tune in from any part of the country or world, via video conferencing. As mindsets towards online education shift, the overall access to the best mentors has stepped up a notch, and the possibilities are endless. 

6. Interactive mode of study

Online education offers a much greater scope for learning to be engaging. Course material is innovatively designed and offered in formats like quizzes, presentations, gamified formats, and projects. Video conferencing enables peer to peer discussions that also encourage shy students to participate and engage via chat. Assignments can be easily submitted online and reviewed in a transparent way. Technology and online programme design is paving the way to make education more engaging.

7. Democratising access

Many students do not end up going to the best universities because they are unable to leave their hometowns for various reasons – it could be due to lack of funding access, gender biases, caregiving responsibilities, mobility issues or disability. Via online degree programmes, the best universities can travel across the world, making education accessible across social, monetary, and geographical barriers. It creates scope for students from underserved or marginalised backgrounds to pursue a quality education and increase their chances of success. 

8. Online degrees by accredited universities

In India, the University Grants Commission has come out with specific guidelines that determine which universities can deliver online degree programmes. Universities having an accreditation rating of 3.26 and above by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), have the nod to offer online degree programmes.

Manipal University Jaipur is the first university in Rajasthan to be accredited A+ by NAAC. No doubt this is a watershed moment for online education delivered by UGC-recognised universities in India.

According to a report, India is one of the top countries alongside USA, UK and South Korea, to invest millions in online education, and this market is expected to keep growing as access to data, smartphones and laptops, penetrates across the country. Opting for an online degree will offer younger generations the flexibility, access and support needed to develop strong foundations for a bright future.

Success of an organisation depends on the alignment of its people to the strategic goals of the firm: Sujatha Kumaraswamy

In an interaction with ETHRWorld, Sujatha Kumaraswamy, CEO, MeritTrac Services, said, “The success of any organisation depends on the alignment of its people to the strategic goals of the firm, on agility and how quickly we can pivot and respond to dynamic market changes, technological advancements, and changing consumer behaviour. Ultimately, it’s the customer experience that determines the success of any product, service, or business.”

In the light of the pandemic and the subsequent emergence of work from home culture, organisations are increasingly interested to re-evaluate their current recruitment processes and identify areas of improvement to make their hiring models more robust and suited to the current working environment.

In an interaction with ETHRWorld, Sujatha Kumaraswamy, CEO, MeritTrac Services, said, “AI-based recruiting is finding inroads towards pre-screening candidates objectively and selecting the most meritocratic set of candidates for the final interview. These results can be relied upon to predict future behaviour and performance of each candidate.” Edited excerpts:

Please share your experience in incubating and running new businesses and functions in the EducationAssessment, IT Services, BPO and Financial Services industries. What are the key learnings?
Cross-functional exposure to handling teams as well as execution is extremely important for everyone. It helps build perspective where one can align their functions to the larger objectives of the organisation. Over the last two decades, I have had a hands-on and insightful experience in managing global, large-scale teams in new business development, strategy, P&L management, business operations and transformation, customer experience, governance, risk management and compliance. All of this has greatly shaped my understanding of leading a business in its entirety. The success of any organisation depends on the alignment of its people to the strategic goals of the firm, on agility and how quickly we can pivot and respond to dynamic market changes, technological advancements, and changing consumer behaviour. Ultimately, it’s the customer experience that determines the success of any product, service, or business.

Since you have experience in managing global, large-scale teams, how are you planning to use it while implementing your business goals as the new CEO of MeritTrac?
MeritTrac has served clients across corporate, institutional, and government sectors to assess and evaluate over 50 million candidates till date. The ability to manage and execute things at scale is very critical here due to the very nature of projects we deliver. Owing majorly to our international clientele, there are regular global benchmarking exercises that we carry out with our R&D arm to ensure that our platforms and assessment frameworks are aligned to globally accepted best-in-class methodologies. We ensure there is enough flexibility in the system for tailor-made solutions depending on the unique need of each client.
The end-to-end delivery of these high-stake projects entails a smooth functioning of a well-oiled machinery with all parts working efficiently as well as effectively. Our core strength continues to be in innovation through our platforms, our in-house content expertise and flawless execution, supported by an enthusiastic team to help our clients at every step. It is only then that we can provide our clients with the benefits of optimized time and cost of assessing, hiring and onboarding.

With the traditional hiring process staying at bay due to the pandemic, how is MeritTrac Services keeping its recruitment process relevant and effective?
Over the last few months, we have seen increasing interest from our clients to re-evaluate their current recruitment processes and identify areas of improvement to make their hiring models more robust and suited to the current working environment. The focus is on replicating the in-person hiring experience to an online environment while constantly evolving tools and assessment methodologies to ensure selection of the right hires.

We have redesigned solutions across the spectrum. Cognitive assessments help in determining the job-fit basis the skills required to perform the jobs effectively and maintain the desired productivity levels. The ease of administering these assessments is phenomenal with the ability to render on any mobile device. Behavioural assessments are highly customized as different roles demand a different set of skills and aptitude. We have evolved robust frameworks in this space that can be completely administered online and remotely.

Online psychometric tests are gaining importance in remote working. These help you get insight into the personality traits of the prospect and ensure a cultural fit in the organisation. Others like language communication assessments, including verbal ability, proficiency, listening, writing for workforce development, and our coding and speech assessments and other simulation assessments are used by clients extensively during recruitment, as well as to benchmark the employees to have an agile, updated and productive workforce.

What are scientific assessment tools and why is it essential for organisations to include the same in the hiring process? How do they help companies to hire and develop talent?
By leveraging validated and reliable psychometric frameworks, such as Big Five Personality, Holland’s Career Interest, Blake Mouton’s Managerial Grid and Herzberg’s Motivation Model, organisations gain an unbiased understanding of an individual’s behaviour and social skills. The high validity and reliability scores help to identify the right-fit candidates with high emotional quotient (EQ), the right work ethics, and the right attitude. As employees spend increasing time working remotely, it becomes imperative to measure productivity and fit with as much transparency as possible.

Remote hiring has mandated the use of technology to eliminate hiring biases with advanced tools and platforms. Skilling assessments – both quantitative and qualitative – provide highly objective reports and scores. By masking all irrelevant details, selection is largely based on the performance on the assessments. AI-based recruiting is finding inroads towards pre-screening candidates objectively and selecting the most meritocratic set of candidates for the final interview. These results can be relied upon to predict future behaviour and performance of each candidate.

There are a range of tools available today to monitor and measure employee progress and performance on a regular basis. Factoring behavioural assessment tests into the hiring process can help organisations better understand the temperament of a candidate through a series of scientifically designed questions and scenarios. MeritTrac’s suite of personality and behavioural assessment tests help organisations evaluate employees on various factors such as workplace thinking style, willingness to learn, leadership capabilities, generic personality, sales situational personality, and customer service orientation.

Addressing the massive talent gap in the cyber security industry

The cyber security industry is a dichotomy. While the demand for cyber security professionals is high as all get-out, there is also a significant talent gap in the domain. The expansion of the digital ecosystem has heightened the need for qualified cyber security experts to deal with newer and more advanced threats. As per the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the demand for Information Security Analysts alone is estimated to rise to 31% by 2029.

With the increasing shortage of trained cyber security professionals, it is becoming difficult to fill the talent gap in the cyber security industry. In the last few years, several studies on cyber security and skills shortages have been conducted by various organisations. The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and the ISSA survey conducted in July 2020 shows that 70% of the participants believe their companies have been impacted by the global cyber security skills shortage.

So amidst the increasing industry demand, why is the skill gap in the cyber security industry increasing? While there are many reasons, the following three causes are the most noteworthy ones:

  1. Scarcity of educational establishments offering cyber security education: The lack of educational establishments that provide foundation-level as well as advanced-level education in cyber security is a key factor in the country’s lack of qualified cyber security professionals. It has become increasingly hard for businesses to hire the right talent in the absence of appropriate institutes and training programs. Students need hands-on experience from experts to understand how to best create a secure environment and tackle a breach.
  2. Lack of training and funding: In India, the shortage of investment in cyber security training continues to affect qualified professionals’ availability. Corporate organisations do not invest enough in cyber security training because they presume that upon completing the upskilling training, qualified professionals will leave the organisation for better opportunities. Companies prefer to recruit already skilled candidates with the requisite expertise rather than train existing employees in cyber security.
  3. The experience paradox in the industry: In today’s time, most companies prefer seasoned professionals over novices in the domain. Applicants with formal degrees and no hands-on work experience in cyber security are unlikely to have the primary capabilities to deal with cyberattack incidents in a real-world environment. But it’s pretty hard to gain experience without getting a job first.

Now the question is, how do we address these challenges? Like other major issues, a multi-layered approach to the skills shortage demands leg work. Here are four ways to bridge the cyber security skill gap:

  1. Introducing cyber security at an early stage of education: The cyber security career pipeline needs to be initiated long before undergraduate students select a major. In order to inspire young learners to build interest in the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), cyber security and coding should be introduced together.
  2. Investment in cyber security training: Organisations should invest in cyber security training for employees and improve their skill sets. Investing in training existing professionals to help them enhance their cyber security knowledge is just as critical as investing in safeguarding the organisational network and data security.
  3. Encourage continuous upskilling: Stagnant and one-time training is one of the key contributors to the cyber security industry’s skill gap. Since the cyber security domain is fast and constantly evolving with newer threats, ongoing learning in cyber security needs to be encouraged to keep professionals’ skills and experiences up to date and relevant. Continuous upskilling will definitely help cyber security professionals retain old skills and develop new ones.
  4. Building opportunities for freshers: Organisations that want to recruit cyber security professionals should look at the requisite skills rather than the years of experience. Thus creating opportunities for skilled freshers to enter the working world.

While we will not be able to bridge the skill gap in the cyber security industry overnight, we can start by encouraging our youth to build a career in cyber security. We also need to promote work environments where everyone understands the criticality of the cyber security profession, where awareness about it becomes a topic of day-to-day conversation for all.

What you need to know to build a career in product management

Product management is one of the most appealing and lucrative professions for individuals who wish to have a vital role in creating new consumer products, business technology, software platforms, and everything else people use daily. Susan Wojcicki (CEO, YouTube), Stewart Butterfield (CEO, Slack), Sheila Lirio Marcelo (CEO & Founder, Care.com) and Sundar Pichai (CEO, Google and Alphabet) are a few of the many successful entrepreneurs who started their leadership journey as Product Managers. It’s the cornerstone of successful businesses in today’s digital-first world, where Product-as-a-Service dominates almost every sector.

Product managers are the links that bring together cross-functional teams by creating and delivering a strategic product cycle that streamlines the planning, manufacturing, marketing, and other attributes of product development. The demand for product managers has risen due to IR 4.0 and the introduction of Big Data and emerging technologies across industries. Product managers enable companies to steer this shift and help them transition effectively to achieve the organisation’s goals. There are reportedly 20,000 vacant product management positions in India.

If you are looking for a new career path, which is challenging but rewarding, then a career in product management is worth exploring. But before you start your journey into the product management domain, you should first know about a product manager’s responsibilities and skills.

Core responsibilities of product managers

Product experts will find ways to address these four primary responsibilities and boost their teams’ efficiency:

  • Setting a vision: A great product manager sets specific objectives for their teams and offers individual members the flexibility to follow their own path and approach to accomplish those goals.
  • Manage multiple projects: Usually, a product manager works simultaneously on several projects covering various fields such as research and development, public relations, sales, and many more. Effective product management involves handling complex projects and having multiple capabilities to address all these different requirements.
  • Get work done: To turn a theoretical idea into a real product is easier said than done. But that’s exactly what product managers need to do. The development of a strategy, the coordination of teams, the delegation of tasks, and the execution of the product fall under a product manager’s expertise.
  • Manage the product life cycle: Whether building a brand new product or incorporating a feature into an existing one, product managers supervise all stages of the product life cycle, from planning and designing to launching and evaluating performance.

Product managers need to have proficiency in their abilities to demonstrate prowess at the workplace and cater to the above-mentioned responsibilities.

Product managers’ skills refer to the capabilities required to deliver a product from the inception of the idea to the finished product. Here is a list to give you an idea of the skills you need to develop to build a career in product management.

  • User-centric approach: Product managers need to apply quantitative and qualitative analysis for research purposes. They need to administer the feedback loop to gain consumer insights. It is done via user recruitment tools and frameworks such as Hotjar, Google Forms, Lookback, and CrazyEgg to obtain details. These skills can either be learnt in a classroom or developed with experience.
  • Leadership: Product managers need to have strong leadership skills. They help teams track and organise assignments, inspire them, and identify the product roadmap. A product manager must be able to bring a team together and help them align themselves to the company’s business goals.
  • Strategic mindset: Product managers ought to have a high-level awareness of the business and its competition. They need business analytics and critical problem-solving abilities to cater the consumer needs.
  • Interpersonal skills: A successful product manager must be able to easily work together with others to allow a team to be more effective and accomplish tasks on time.

Product management appeals to a certain category of professionals who are constantly looking to challenge themselves and are keen on career growth. If that feels like you, then the best decision would be to upskill in the product management domain with an effective upskilling resource, such as IIM Indore & Jigsaw Academy’s Postgraduate Certificate Program in Product Management. This is a one of its kind program that provides learners with hands-on learning experience through its Bring Your Own Product (BYOP) feature. This six month online instructor-led program is also the only program in India that conforms to the 5i Framework of product management and is curated by the industry’s expert minds.

Manipal Education and Medical Group launches ‘UNext’: An affordable end-to-end online learning platform for professional courses

UNext, a next generation online learning organisation and a subsidiary of the Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), today announced the launch of its operations to offer high quality and affordable digital higher education solutions for learners across India. UNext will focus on programs catering to the higher education ecosystem by delivering online degrees, professional e-learning courses, and digital assessments with best-in-class content and technology stack.

Speaking on the occasion, S. Vaitheeswaran, Group CEO, MEMG, said, “Our focus has always been to empower learners and transform lives through high quality, affordable professional education. With UNext, we’re excited to take the Manipal legacy online. Now learners anywhere can access online degrees, industry relevant e-learning courses, and gain new skills and knowledge needed to become competent individuals and professionals to succeed in the world today. In fact, UNext will be one of a kind ed tech platform to offer online degrees and programs, coupled with digital assessments.”

UNext is focused on revolutionizing the education sector by providing students access to a high calibre education platform through intuitive technology that will enable their potential to thrive in a dynamic world. UNext works with deemed universities, Institutes of Eminence, reputed academia and industry leaders to create innovative education solutions with industry relevant curriculum, skill-focused development programs, and scientifically designed academic evaluation options.

Speaking on the launch, Ambrish Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, UNext, said, “Our deep understanding of the education ecosystem coupled with a strong technology stack and quality content will enable learners anywhere to greatly benefit from our online degree programs. Our focus is building on a strong platform that makes learning in a digital world easy, seamless and on the go! We truly want to replicate the offline learning environment in an online world. And UNext is uniquely positioned in the marketplace to do just that.”

UNext allows an immersive learning experience through a mobile-first LMS platform, access to world class faculty lectures – synchronous and asynchronous models, new age pedagogy, online quizzes and assessments, access to a wide alumni network, and expert assistance and career counselling to boost students’ career opportunities. UNext is the only EdTech company in India that provides end-to-end education solutions from online degrees and programs to digital evaluation and examination management services.

UNext enables future-focused learning opportunities in the higher education ecosystem to be accessible by individuals and enterprises through online university degrees in collaboration with reputed Indian and global institutions through Online Manipal, professional upskilling programs in data science and emerging technologies, and digital assessment and examination solutions for corporates, governments, and educational institutions.

UNext will offer specially curated courses through partnerships with reputed organisations known for their scholastic prowess and quality of pedagogy, such as Manipal University Jaipur, IIM Indore, FutureSkills, NASSCOM, and HackerU.

About UNext
UNext is a next generation online learning organisation focused on the higher education ecosystem. With best-in-class content and technology stack, UNext offers online university degrees through Online Manipal, professional e-courses catering to various industries, programs in data science and emerging technologies from Jigsaw Academy, and digital assessments and examination management services for corporates, governments, and educational institutions through MeritTrac Services. Built with a start-up mindset, UNext offers easy access to courses, an affordable education, high quality content, and valuable outcomes for learners. UNext is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG). For more information, visit www.u-next.com.

Investing in tech for hiring: A must for every organisation

When the pandemic gained a footing at the beginning of the year, the world came to a standstill. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent national lockdowns disrupted businesses globally. The worldwide health crisis was like an avalanche, sweeping away jobs, forcing salary cuts and layoffs across industries. The sudden outbreak of the pandemic meant most businesses were caught off-guard and were ill-prepared. The focus swiftly shifted to survival, compelling decision-makers to pull the plug on hiring and laying off employees to stay afloat.

After months of turbulence, various sectors are gradually recovering and showing green shoots in hiring. Organisations are remodelling their hiring processes quickly and creatively. Apart from shifting to virtual operations, they are now employing a scientific approach and redesigning the way they recruit talent.

A wrong hire versus the right one
Virtual hiring is now a go-to strategy and not just a pandemic-induced stop-gap solution. However, there continue to be a lot of uncertainties around its efficiency and the ability to choose the right candidate. No employer wants to hire the wrong candidate as it can prove very costly in more ways than just financial. A wrong hire can result in productivity loss, financial loss, loss of time, lower employee morale, and can harm the company’s reputation and its long-term prospects. On the other hand, the right hire will optimise their job responsibilities, increasing the outcomes and efficiency of the team. They would fit right into the work culture and become an invaluable addition to the company. Therefore, implementing technology-assisted scientifically designed assessments is imperative for companies to efficiently manage the hiring process.

Scientifically designed assessments help find the right hires
Scientifically designed assessments are beneficial to both the company and the candidate. An end-to-end online assessment platform tailormade for the recruitment process, enables businesses to execute competency-based assessments to hire the right talent. These online assessment tools enable organisations to evaluate the potential of an entry-level or experienced job seeker and help make an informed hiring decision. These assessments also eliminate bias or any form of human error. The results can be banked upon to anticipate future behaviour and achievement.

Cognitive assessments
Cognitive assessments help organisations assess a candidate’s ability to solve problems, learn quickly, understand new ideas, and achieve targets. They can accurately assess a candidate’s abilities and test their situational judgment and emotional intelligence. The final score can tell us how effectively a candidate will perform on a job and how well they will learn during their training. These assessments have progressed over the years becoming more precise in measuring how well a person fits into a particular job. It also determines the skills required to carry out the job effectively and maintain the desired productivity levels. These assessments are easy to administer with the ability to operate on any mobile device. Cognitive assessments improve job success ratio and are highly used in the education and employment sectors.

Behavioural assessments
A candidate’s technical skills might be perfect for the job, but that is not all an organisation seeks. They should also fit into the company’s culture and succeed in the position they are hired for. Behavioural assessments comprise a series of scientifically designed questions and scenarios that help in understanding a candidate’s personality. They test an individual’s creativity, critical thinking, leadership ability, and behavioural traits such as extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, and neuroticism. These assessments differ from job-to-job. Behavioural assessments should ideally be highly customised depending on the nature of the role for which the candidate is being evaluated. As every job role demands a different set of skills and aptitude, candidates must be thoughtfully picked and be the best fit for the job.

Technology has profoundly altered the way businesses operate. Organisations must leverage technology to make personnel decisions backed by data and have a competitive edge over others by hiring the best. With the most important asset of any business or organisation being its people, decision makers must invest in technology to build a team that believes in the culture and can help realise the vision of the organisation.

Design is the new management

In today’s competitive world, to survive and thrive, organisations need a design-driven and innovative mindset. From businesses to experiences, services to systems, everything is changing at an unprecedented pace and career opportunities for management candidates are growing in tandem. Management students are trained in functional areas such as marketing, finance, HR, etc., which prepares them to be productive. However, the key faculty of management studies is design strategy that focuses on creatively planning, efficiently designing, developing, and executing a strategy.

Design and innovation provide a deeper understanding of how to design and administer various strategies, keeping in mind organisation goals, function, and economics while ensuring a great end-user experience. These subjects encourage students to create highly valuable and innovative work environments that benefit individuals and inspire imaginative and creative workplaces. As creators of tomorrow, we need to understand the fundamentals of design in management, social behaviour, entrepreneurship, gamification, designing strategies to service and systems design, creative strategic leadership, etc.

Programme and scope
Design is the new management. In our ever-changing world, it is the fundamental element of planning and strategy for every business. Ultimately, it is good design – be it in the product, the experience, or the technology – that truly differentiates an innovative organisation from the rest. MIND’s PGCP in Design and Innovation powers-up learners’ imagination and enables them to apply design to every aspect of life, to create an impact. This course is a unification of socio-economic, administration, technology, and originality. Also, the employment opportunities for Design Strategy Management candidates is on the rise in India.

In-depth market research has shown that organisations need learning programs in applied design, strategy, and innovation to address real-world challenges. Businesses today are required to have the ability to create opportunity out of the vague, tangibility out of the intangible, and create worth and wealth out of the limitations. This can only be accomplished by the ability and the power to constantly reinvent, innovate, and ‘design’ business strategies, processes, tools, and techniques.

Therefore, people who have the ability to design contextually relevant imaginative, creative, transformational, and intuitive strategies, business processes, tools, and techniques are essential. A practice-oriented school that encourages students to take industry-driven challenges and create phenomenal methods, concepts, and ideas will stretch the human imagination with best practices in design, innovation, strategy, and creative leadership. At the same time, management schools need to offer insights and tools that make problem solvers more collaborative, effective, and resilient, and changemakers to apply design to everything they do from ideation to creation. Design strategy can build thought leaders and a new breed of managers who can help organisations achieve their strategic goals and maximise worth from business.

Career prospects
In the post-Covid world, as the pandemic has thrown the rule book even further, organisations need a workforce that’s trained to think in design terms. This will help drive sustained success in physical service, and digital settings, in no particular order. For that, organisations will need champion thinkers who map their own paths and make it simple with their ideas and dreams for the future.

To reimagine business, renovate systems and recreate value in the new normal, organisations need dynamic visionaries, changemakers, and pathbreakers to positively embrace and create disruptions. Every industry will need fresh value creators who can help organisations learn, adapt, and seize new opportunities. Therefore, with the transforming industry trends, job opportunities in Design Strategy is set to witness continued demand in India.