Remote proctored online exams: The way forward?

The global Coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing lockdown not only had a deep impact on our everyday lives but also changed the way we perceive education. The pandemic has intensified the role of technology across sectors and has been a vital cog in ensuring learning continuity. As the country battles the virus, educational institutes are looking to eliminate the long haul of uncertainty by leveraging technology.

Digital disruption prompted tech-enabled learning and assessments and that is continuing to empower students and institutions collectively. The ease of accessibility, security, and flexibility of online learning have got users engrossed thereby increasing its popularity and use. According to the World Economic Forum, research suggests that online learning has been shown to increase retention of information, and takes less time, meaning the changes coronavirus have caused might be here to stay. Even before COVID-19, there was already high growth and adoption in education technology, with global edtech investments reaching USD 18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to reach USD 350 billion by 2025. Apart from learning, it is other aspects like online exams, proctoring, and result generation that need to enter the mainstream. AI-based proctoring has become the need of the hour and a lot of universities have already started implementing it. In India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) authorised a certain set of colleges to offer full-time online degree programmes and this means that online exams can no longer be overlooked.

While we’re seeing increasing interest in online exam management solutions, there is still a lack of awareness and some authorities remain on the fence regarding its sanctity, authenticity, and efficiency. Quite a few progressive institutes have gone ahead and digitized examinations which has not only helped them keep their academic commitments and calendars on track but they’ve realised how secure and reliable online exams are. Online assessment is not only cost-effective but also improves the timeliness of results, accuracy of results, and analyses give institutes actionable insights.

Everyone’s health and wellbeing should be the top priority during the pandemic. Keeping that in mind, remotely proctored online exams are the most viable way of assessing students and aspirants. Remote online proctoring enables invigilators to assess students authentically even from a distance. A safe exam browser disables any other programs from opening and ensures students can only access the exam on their respective devices. AI-enabled tools help effectively monitor students via a webcam as they would in-person by using biometrics, analysing keyboard handwriting, ambient sounds, mouse movement, eye and head movement, and a lot more. After the completion of the exam, a comprehensive report is also generated for the proctor that enables them to make fair judgment on a candidate’s exam integrity. The results of these tests are incredibly quick, accurate, and insightful.

Remote proctoring allows greater flexibility and enables data integrity by ensuring that only authorised personnel have access to it. It also helps in auto-evaluating candidates’ responses and removes bias as well. These tests are foolproof in the sense that they prevent any malpractice, are easy to use, and improve the overall productivity of the system compared to traditional methods.

Despite technology being available at the tip of our fingers for a long time, the drastic shift from the traditional mode of learning to the online mode was triggered only during the last year. The pros of proctored exams – veracious, versatile, cost-efficient, secure, modular, and customizable – bridge the gap while reducing the reliance on physical infrastructure in the coming days. With technology changing the way we function in life, online examinations have emerged as a life-saver and will continue to be a strong contender in the coming years. All we need is to have a little more trust and a little less resistance to change.

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Analysing the impact of remotely proctored exams

The education sector has been gradually evolving with changing needs and demands. While the adoption was initially slow, the pandemic outbreak compelled educational institutions to practically transform overnight and rely on digital solutions as an essential gear to guarantee learning congruity. Technological solutions in education have now become a necessary reality especially as initial apprehensions are slowly being eliminated.

However, conducting examinations with digital technology remains a point of contention. Some universities cancelled exams altogether while few others preferred to implement remote proctored examination solutions as a solid alternative to offline exams. Some students are disappointed since they had spent the entire year preparing for the examinations. And while people’s health and well-being is of primary importance, skipping or cancelling exams will have a detrimental impact on the students’ future.

School officials believe the abrogation of board assessments has elicited a mixed response with some students who performed well in school wanting to take the exams and others not so much. Many feel that the incorporation of Class 9 and 11 grades in the evaluation will lower their grades. The impact of the cancellation of the exams on students who want to pursue higher education overseas is also unknown. As a result, it’s critical to use a different way of evaluation.

Solid architecture

During a period when in-person contact presents an incredible threat, online exams have arisen as the most reasonable option in contrast to the age-old pen and paper model of assessment. It’s an incredible method to ensure that educational delivery doesn’t come to a halt due to unforeseen situations. The procedure is cost-effective, saves time and ensures that exams are seamlessly delivered and are error-free.

Remotely proctored online exams are currently viewed as the most viable method of evaluating students and applicants without jeopardising life during the pandemic. Invigilators can assess students authentically via remote proctoring because they can not only monitor candidate movement but also record changes in the browser. Remote proctoring provides more adaptability and ensures data integrity by guaranteeing access to authorised personnel only. It also aids in the automatic evaluation of candidates’ responses and eliminates bias. E-assessments are built on a solid architecture that enables safe information authentication, troubleshoots transaction, and storage difficulties from both an educational and technological standpoint, and anticipates any potential security flaws.

Lifesaver technology

Despite innovation and technology being accessible at the tip of our fingers for quite a while, the intense shift from the traditional method to the online method of learning was set off only during the last year. Proctored tests’ benefits, such as veracity, adaptability, cost-effectiveness, safety, modularity, and tailored evaluations, are intended to bridge the gap while reducing reliance on physical infrastructure in the future. Remote examinations have emerged as a lifesaver since technology has changed our perspective, provided immense opportunity for change, and online exams will continue to be a strong contender going forward.

Recent research by a group of scholars from India and Australia shows that more than 55 per cent of students had a positive attitude towards online proctored exams. Around 24 per cent of students show a negative attitude due to a network problem. The advent of new-age technologies like AI and wider internet coverage will increase the acceptance of proctored exams among students and other stakeholders.

Online exams are gaining pace and acceptability around the world since it uses dependable and scalable technology to assess examinations and learning in equal measure. It is also a viable and successful choice for administering large-scale exams like NEET and JEE. During the pandemic, the sudden demand for distant assessments necessitated a rapid reaction with little planning. The lessons acquired from this process can be implemented in the future to meet the demand for remote services with more predictability and consistency.

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Students take centre stage in online education

With the growing popularity of online learning, the education sector is today witnessing a massive transformation. In India, online education has emerged as a mainstream learning mode, especially after the pandemic outbreak in 2020. The government and higher education regulator have given recognition to online education in order to improve the gross enrolment ratio (GER), which was 27.1 per cent in 2019-20, and hit the target of 50 per cent by 2035 as recommended in the latest National Education Policy (NEP). The digital push, as well as the industry demand, have also contributed to policy-level intervention in favour of online education.

Following the guidelines framed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), 43 higher education institutions (HEIs) have started offering 250+ full-time degree, diploma, and certificate courses. Students everywhere can enrol in these courses and be part of this education revolution. This article explains how online education will help students harness the benefits of convenience and versatility in their skill and career up-gradation.

Learn anywhere anytime

The foremost target of online education is improving the GER and thus, reaching out to a wider student community. The scope of higher education in developing and underdeveloped countries is limited. In India, students who belong to the lower socio-economic class and rural areas find it difficult to pursue education beyond schools as higher education is expensive and concentrated in cities. On the other hand, online education available anywhere anytime enables students from any socio-economic status and region to study at their convenience, wherever they are. Moreover, the regulator has mandated HEIs who offer online learning to not compromise on the quality of education, and equally provide resources to all, i.e., regular and online students.

Graduate from top institutions

HEIs listed in the top-100 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for two consecutive years along with a minimum 3.26 score on a four-point scale of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) are eligible to offer online degrees. By this guideline, the UGC opens a window of possibilities for students to pursue higher education from major institutions without stepping out of home or compromising on quality. Students from all backgrounds can study in such institutions, which will broadly help diminish the existing socio-economic, regional, and digital divide.

Earn while you learn

Online learning provides complete freedom to students. It doesn’t force learners to stay at a premise for a stipulated time or demand them to reach an exam hall for taking tests. In online learning, students control their study time and pace, which gives them the flexibility to attend and complete tasks at their convenience. They can even pursue studying while working full-time. Learning while working helps students apply the acquired lessons in real-time scenarios and vice versa, which would, in turn, help them remember the lessons and do well in exams. It also helps students be financially fit while taking classes.

Be industry-ready

The employability of graduates has been a point of contention for a long time. As noted above, producing industry-ready candidates is one of the key objectives of online programmes in India. A close collaboration between institutions and industry is recommended while launching online courses. Some HEIs are offering courses in association with e-learning platforms or edtech companies, while others are integrating inputs from industry leaders and industry bodies in developing curriculum and delivering the programmes. Industry connect is one of the highlights of online courses. Through webinars and guest lectures, HEIs ensure students get industry exposure while pursuing their education online. This way, students can be industry-ready upon graduating.

Gain future skills

The industry collaboration also emphasises building in-demand skills to prepare students to be industry-ready. Online courses are designed keeping that principle in mind and focus on developing in-demand and emerging skills among learners. Skills like problem-solving, analytics, collaboration, adaptability, communication, the ability for continuous learning and others are some of the future skills that are being honed. Attending online courses and enrolling on specialised courses will help students boost these skills. Even interactions with instructors, guests and peers help build such skills. Hence, students can kick start their careers confidently and remain relevant in the future workforce.

Online education is bringing students to the centre stage of learning. Guaranteeing a smooth learning journey by eliminating the compulsion on physical presence is the backbone of online programmes. The convenience and versatility of online learning become beneficial for students to succeed in their careers. When online education becomes widespread, it will increase the supply of employable candidates to the industry to meet the demand. It will ultimately help in the economic growth of the country.

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How is technology transforming the talent acquisition process?

Companies on a global scale have turned to technology and stabilised their processing across different vertices to secure a work environment that’s future-ready. When it comes to hiring, it’s no different. Digitisation has transformed the long and laborious recruitment process into a simplified procedure that is also economically viable. It’s the optimal way to speed things up and fuel the recruitment procedure to its highest degree of efficiency.

By the middle of 2020, the digital transformation of the recruitment process emerged as critical to overcome the then present and developing obstacles while obtaining optimal results, far from being a band-aid solution to a worldwide upheaval. Recruitment technology has advanced to the point that it can free up one’s time in manifold ways. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are examples of technological solutions that improve operational efficiency, product quality, and client retention. When we apply this to hiring, all of these assets equate to faster hiring procedures, happier prospects and workers, and a polished employer brand.

Incorporating technology into the realm of human resources

Not only is technological integration enabling HR managers and recruiters to overcome geographical barriers by hiring top talent from around the world, but it is also enabling them to speed up the onboarding process, reduce turnaround time, and maximise the assessment and evaluation process cost-effectively and efficiently. Companies may now access a broader, diversified, and highly-skilled talent pool to identify individuals who are the right fit for the job and the work culture thanks to industry-specific platforms. In addition, positioning applicants on their range of abilities and industry experience makes it simpler for employers to recognise and shortlist top professionals.

Cognitive assessments
Technology-based assessments can be easily customised to meet an organisation’s people needs such as hiring, employee retention, promotions, and skill development. This aids the organisation in eliminating prejudices, lowering expenses, eliminating human error, and, most importantly, evaluating large numbers of candidates in a short amount of time, enhancing the quality of recruits. Cognitive evaluations examine a candidate’s capacity to learn quickly, solve difficult issues, comprehend new concepts, and meet deadlines. Complex professions may necessitate more independent decision-making and problem-solving ability, which will necessitate cognitive prowess. The tools assist the organisation in assessing critical qualities of a possible hire, such as logical reasoning and decision-making abilities. Companies can use cognitive assessments to predict employee success in knowledge-based or vocational roles in a multitude of sectors. Cognitive evaluation techniques have been proven to have higher predictive validity than traditional selection procedures in studies.

Behavioural assessments
It is vital to select someone who understands and aligns with the organisation’s business objectives. The traditional method makes it difficult to appropriately judge a candidate’s behaviour. A behavioural evaluation can assist us in figurign out how a person approaches their work and achieves their goals. This technique of evaluation can be used alone or in conjunction with other assessments such as aptitude and personality tests. Failure to assess candidates’ behavioural features can add to a company’s attrition rate. Scientific evaluations can aid employers in better understanding the temperament of new hires. The candidate’s chances of being hired or not are determined by their high dependability and validity score. More businesses will concentrate on how to maximise their staff, and individuals will be expected to correct skill gaps based on assessment results. Corporate assessments are being used in a variety of industries to ensure that the employment process is fair and efficient.

What does research suggest?
According to recent research, 76 percent of firms with more than 100 employees use assessment tools like aptitude and personality tests to hire externally. Over the following four years, that percentage is predicted to rise to 88 per cent. The more senior the position, the more likely the business will use evaluations to find individuals who meet the requirements. Data is the top trend impacting hiring procedure according to 50% of experienced hiring professionals, including HR people, hiring managers, and talent acquisition specialists. Also, the talent management tool market is expected to develop at a rate of 13% per year. Future software is expected to include more mobile applications, giving employees a more flexible work environment.

A win-win situation for recruiters and employees
Job seekers can gain new skills while simultaneously benefiting from a more streamlined hiring process thanks to technology. By relying just on physical documents and credentials, it is difficult to effectively assess a prospective employee’s skill level. Personality, commitment, ambition, aptitude, and efficiency are all qualities that cannot be measured by words on a screen or paper.

Companies, on the other hand, can examine individuals’ talents and competencies like never before, thanks to current technologies.

Along with great strategies and methods of recruitment, assessments for hiring the right candidates which are accessible online, user-friendly and secure ensure empowerment to the company on a whole.

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Data science field brimming with promising opportunities

Data is the new currency in today’s world. It is among the paramount factors, along with emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), driving the digital transformation of businesses across industries. Around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data get generated daily. Every organisation worldwide is looking for ways to capture this vast data volume and leverage it to stay ahead in the competitive market. In other words, we’re witnessing the rise of data-greed. A NewVantage Partners’ report shows that the number of organisations investing more than $50 million in Big Data and AI initiatives rose to 64.8 per cent over the last year.

Working with an enormous amount of data and deriving useful insights from it is becoming the most sought-after skillset in the market. Companies are actively looking for skilled data science specialists to join their teams. As of today, there are more than 22,000 data science job roles vacant in the country on LinkedIn alone. There is no better time for aspirants to consider building a career in this domain.

In terms of job outlook, data science specialists are among the top 15 LinkedIn jobs in 2021. Not only is it among the hottest professions of the year in terms of job satisfaction, but also a field that offers lucrative packages. An early-career data scientist, with or without experience, earns ₹5 lakh to ₹7 lakh annually. If you’re passionate about data and love to play with it, a career in this field is your ticket to building a promising career.

Here are a few of the most popular data science job roles you can consider as a career path in today’s market.

Data analyst

They work with large data sets and are responsible for manipulating them for the necessary analysis as per business goals. Their work influences various business decisions, from marketing to finance. Their key responsibilities also include monitoring and coordinating the A/B tests for an organisation. Data analysts leverage A/B testing in data science to optimise better user experience

Data engineer

It is the data engineers’ responsibility to create a framework upon which data scientists and analysts work. This means that they are responsible for creating the infrastructure by generating for the recording, viewing, and reviewing data. Large-scale databases and processing systems are designed and managed by data engineers so that other staff in their company can use these systems to uncover patterns and draw conclusions.

Data scientist

They accumulate complex data and derive insights for the easy understanding of all stakeholders involved. More than just research and analysis, they’re in charge of all things involving data, including arranging it and making it available, then drawing concrete trends and patterns from the data.

Data architect

They are responsible for developing data solutions and designing analytics applications for various platforms. Their key responsibilities include exploring ways to enhance the efficiency and functionality of existing systems, creating new database systems, as well as working to provide access to database managers and analysts.

There is a path for you to pursue a data science career, irrespective of your prior experience. But it requires skills, a thirst for knowledge, and patience to build a successful career in the domain.

Here are a few pre-requisite skills that will get you hired in this field:

Programming skills

Data science professionals are expected to have a good command over statistical programming languages, like R or Python, and a database querying language like SQL.

Statistics and probability

When you start writing, you need to be familiar with grammar to construct the right phrases. In the same way, knowing statistics and probability is a must for a data science professional. Understanding the definition of descriptive statistics is a must — mean, median, mode, variance, and standard deviation — for creating effective models.

Data visualisation

It is imperative to visualise and communicate data, particularly with companies where data science professionals are seen as people helping others make data-driven decisions. This includes explaining insights and how strategies work with viewers, to both experienced professionals and novices.

Communication skills

Formulating the problem statement is an indispensable quality of an expert data science specialist. At the beginning of every project, the stakeholders communicate to the data science specialist the requirement, and then the latter formulate a problem statement. Data science professionals must be able to articulate how insights can help them boost the company’s revenue.

Learners can acquire proficiency in these skills by pursuing a certification course in data science. Jigsaw Academy offers a placement-guaranteed Postgraduate Diploma In Data Science programme, in collaboration with Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), a perfect blend of data science and emerging technologies.

Halappa Guruppanavar, Data Scientist, Healthcare and BFSI at Tata Consultancy Services, shares his career transformation journey. He says: “As a BBM Graduate, I had almost accepted that I could never get into analytics. The Postgraduate Diploma programme didn’t just help me get my dream job but also enabled me to get a 110 per cent salary hike.”

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Redefining HR

From being an auxiliary wing of any organisation to a strategic partner, the Human Resources (HR) department of an organisation has come a long way. This was largely due to the application of People Analytics in all operations. An oft-cited example is how Nestlé’s HR team used methods and techniques of People Analytics and Digital HR to help its leaders and managers examine gender pay gaps and develop better inclusive policies.

In recent times, it has become imperative to support and identify the value and potential of employees to achieve sustainable business growth. According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends survey, 73% of HR leaders said that integrating People Analytics would be an important focus for their businesses in the next five years. Some of the most in-demand roles in this section are:

HR Analysts collect, compile, and analyse data and statistics. Employee-relevant activities like managing personnel inventories, talent acquisition, management, and operational improvement are a few of the many key aspects of this role. They are also extremely pivotal in providing appropriate recommendations for recruitment and workforce planning.

Global People Analytics Specialists are in charge of collecting, analysing, and maintaining employee engagement data. They also play an important role in conducting employee surveys as well as upward feedback. The role includes monitoring and auditing human capital data to ensure integrity and security in an organisation. They must also help in local office inquiries and assist in establishing collaborative relationships with IT, data providers, and clients in local offices.

Human Resource Information System Specialists are responsible for the implementation, support, and maintenance of the HR information management system. They act as an advisory to the management for any system requirements and resources. Their primary responsibilities include providing technical support and day-to-day responsibilities involve assistance in maintenance, troubleshooting, and design of HRIS and other HR applications and systems; securing data integrity, maintaining regular reports of employee record data, and analysing data flows.

Getting started

An effective and promising way for a successful career in People Analytics would be to take up a certification programme. Contrary to earlier times, HR professionals now need to be equipped with the knowledge of emerging technologies, be able to employ SaaS when necessary along with being able to apply analytics to derive definite conclusions.

Even before the inclusion of analytics in this, HR was a crucial part of every organisation. The advent of People Analytics converged the job with the company growth, along with providing it with a tool for a scientific approach towards employee growth, retention, and satisfaction.

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What graduates who have completed their degrees online need to do to secure jobs in India

The COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the entire world seems to be far from over and continues to wreak havoc. With experts predicting a third wave of the pandemic, the lifestyle changes that the pandemic gave rise to such as work-from-home and online education are set to continue for an incalculable time. While under the circumstances online classes are the only way out for students, it remains to be seen if youth who have graduated in 2021 are able to secure jobs in India.

In fact, a LinkedIn survey states that 72% of students and 65% of fresh graduates in India were professionally impacted during the second wave of COVID-19 with their job applications getting rejected. Some of the other challenges being faced by students in pursuing job opportunities include lack of guidance for skilling and increased familial responsibilities due to COVID-19. Along the same lines, leaders in the academic domain spoke to Dataquest about the problems that “online graduates” may face in India, and how they could overcome these hurdles to become employable.

Challenges being faced by the batch that has graduated online in securing jobs in India

Dr. GK Prabhu, President, Manipal University Jaipur, says that although the online delivery of educational content has multiple advantages, the youth may find two major challenges: (a) lack of experiential knowledge especially in skill-based professional academic programs, and (b) lack of collaborating and networking abilities with peers and experts. “These two features are very important to enhance their employability in any sector,” he says.

Sarita Digumarti, COO and Co-founder, Jigsaw Academy, states that according to the latest India Skills report, students graduating in 2021 are slightly less employable than students who graduated in 2020. “There can be an array of reasons for this decline. The educational institutes, as well as students, are still adjusting to the concept of remote learning. This batch will undoubtedly lack a lot of practical knowledge compared to the ones before them. The industry needs have also changed by a great amount recently,” adds Digumarti.

Apart from the fact that students have studied online throughout the year, what makes the job market unrelenting is several industries have had to cut jobs due to the pandemic-induced recession. “Major challenge is to face an already tough job market fuelled by collapse of businesses and lay-offs triggered by the pandemic. To survive, many organisations have re-configured their businesses and processes, resulting into an array of newer job roles which require completely different skillsets. Many graduates from the batch of 2021 may be finding themselves unequipped to take up these roles. Moreover, disruption to learning and no on-site work experience in last one year may also be contributing to their woes,” notes Dr. Happy Paul, associate professor (HRM, OB and Communications Area) Program Chair- PGDM (HRM), TA PAI Management Institute, Manipal.

Abhay G Chebbi, pro-chancellor, Alliance University, is of the view that employment opportunities depend on the macroeconomic scenario. “Recruiters visit campuses to select the “best” talent available. The process usually consists of aptitude tests, technical interviews, and HR interviews. Since the economy was severely hit, most recruiters chose not to recruit at all, shrinking the opportunities significantly. The few that did well (tech sector, health care, e-commerce, edtech, insurance) recruited but in smaller numbers. Since supply and demand drive compensation, salary levels travelled south,” he says.

He further stated: AI took center stage in aptitude tests, with tech-based proctoring and evaluation. Graduates recorded videos on select topics. Interviews were precise, and anyone not fully prepared faced elimination. Mean and median salaries remain high. We have learned valuable lessons – the need for mentoring, intensive formative assessments, and engaging students in a virtual environment.”

What can youth do to make sure they become employable?

As the situation continues to appear grim, the onus now lies on students to make sure they obtain the required skills to secure jobs in India. “Youth need to participate actively in group discussions on virtual platforms and improve their collaborating and influencing ability. They should also explore online certificate courses especially those focused on contemporary topics and be innovative in their approach to problem-solving,” says Dr GK Prabhu.

In the same vein, Sarita Digumarti says that staying relevant to the industry requirements must be at the top of one’s list. “Various sectors will resume in 2021 after seeing a decline in 2020. Thus, the youth must ensure they are qualified enough for the job they want to apply for. To make up for the lack of hands-on experience, they can enroll themselves in numerous courses available today,” she adds.

Dr. Happy Paul, on the other hand, is of the belief that students need to be open to learning opportunities as it is the skills, and not degrees, which will make youth employable in current times. He has the following advice for students: “Paid or unpaid, formal or informal, getting hands-on experience through industry projects and internships always add value. It is imperative to understand the business, its environment and keep oneself updated about what’s new in the industry/domain. Last, developing professional network, connecting with the experts, mentors and peer community, is another important skill for employability enhancement.”

That said, Abhay G Chebbi comments that developing 21st century skills are the only way out for students to become more employable. “Youth need to develop 21st-century skills – higher-order cognitive skills (analysis, evaluation, and synthesis), agility, and adaptation. Peer learning is more critical than teacher-led learning. Learners must take ownership of their knowledge, application, worldview, and social skills. Institutions must invest in technology–learning management systems, campus solutions, AI, IoT, and in-demand platforms. A hybrid model is here to stay. Both institutions and learners must appreciate the advantages of blending anytime, anywhere learning with face-to-face interaction,” he says.

Changes needed in the curriculum owing to the COVID-19 pandemic

While one may or may not agree with online education being the best medium for students to continue with their education, the trend is bound to be in use. However, a few changes could be introduced to help students acquire the latest skills. Here is what industry leaders suggest:

Teachers need to be more innovative while using technical platforms, and they need to create and manage curriculum content to instil interest in students and meaningfully engage with them. Teaching-learning should be more application-oriented, and evaluation should be project-based. Experiments should be conducted through virtual laboratories by extensively using AR/VR technology: Dr GK Prabhu.

The work-from-home culture has given rise to the dependency on online business tools and services. Being technically sound is important for almost everyone in the industry. Thus, a curriculum covering domains like Business Analytics, Product Management, People Analytics, Cloud Computing, Data Science, etc., must be developed at the earliest: Sarita Digumarti

The curriculum needs to be genuinely revised keeping in mind the current job roles and future of work. It must be more pragmatic, and practice driven. Developing the programs with industry partnership to allow more practical exposure is the way forward. The pandemic has increased the pace of technology absorption and many organisations may continue to have flexible work arrangements, so building competencies to be productive and effective in virtual world will help. In addition, focus on entrepreneurial potential of students may also aid in producing job creators: Dr. Happy Paul.

Quality must replace quantity – the pandemic has taught us that less can be more. We must scrap our obsession with sequential learning. Students must develop the capacity to learn in any order. The curriculum must always remain contemporary by including the latest developments long before such concepts find their way into textbooks. We must use design thinking to drive curriculum – what do employers want? How can we provide what employers look for? Faculty autonomy and commitment are vital – we need holistic educators, not “textbook” teachers: Abhay G Chebbi.

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World Youth Skills Day 2021: Check 5 domains that can upskill the youth to become job-ready

For the country’s youths graduating from colleges this year, the ongoing pandemic has made a bad situation worse. Before the pandemic, they had encountered an increasing inconsistency between skills they were learning in school/college and those that they required to get hired. Now, the entire world is under the shadow of Covid-19 and despite having higher education, it has become increasingly challenging for youngsters to kickstart their careers in these dichotomous scenarios.

According to the India Skills Report 2021 by Wheebox, “Only 45.9 percent of the youth were considered highly employable resources.” It has become more imperative than ever for the youth of today to upskill in industry-relevant skills to join the digitally intelligent workforce.

This shifting work ecosystem requires a change in the way we think about learning. They must be encouraged to “learn to learn” and “learn-unlearn-relearn” in order to gain new skills and adapt them to stay relevant with the current trends in the industries that will help them secure a recession-resilient job.

In today’s digital-fast world, getting groomed, be digitally fluent and be job-ready has become crucial. Looking at the current scenario, where working remotely is the new normal, every industry is looking for skilled professionals who can help them navigate this tectonic shift.

Therefore, it has become important for youngsters to have hands-on experience in emerging technologies, such as Data Science, Business Analytics, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, People Analytics, Digital HR, to name a few. Knowing how to develop data-driven strategies and decision making, having full-fledged knowledge of Cloud solutions, etc, shall surely make them digitally literate and ready for the job market.

Check five top domains that can upskill the youth to become job-ready

1. Business Analytics

Data has become critical to business success for organisations and to develop new growth strategies. Business Analytics helps organisations understand consumers’ changing demands and create new strategies to overcome the pandemic’s effects. It assists companies in obtaining profound understanding and support in data-driven decision-making and has become a key requirement for every company. And that is why Business Analytics and management leaders are highly sought-after.

Today, Google search shows more than 34,60 million Business Analytics jobs are vacant in the country. Not only this, this domain offers one of the lucrative career paths for youths to fast-track their career growth. Reportedly, a Business Analyst with less than one year of experience earns Rs 3 lacs to Rs 5 lacs annually. Upskilling in this domain will empower youths to advance more quickly in their career ladder.

2. Artificial Intelligence

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) remains an emerging field, its extraordinary market success has yielded considerable potential. Acquiring talents with AI skills has become a huge attraction and requirement for companies. In the years ahead, various industries will see advancement and development in terms of AI as it is placed to be a successful emerging technology in the Indian industrial ecosystem.

As revealed by the Artificial Intelligence Report 2021 by Stanford, “India is ranked sixth globally amongst all the countries that are working relentlessly on AI and its implementation in the market.” Upskilling in the Artificial Intelligence domain will provide the youths a competitive edge in the job market’s rat race.

3. Cloud Computing

Cloud, the world’s worldwide server network, has emerged as one of India’s most reliable emerging technologies. According to IBM’s recent survey, “65% of companies say investment in IoT, Cloud, and mobility will be a priority this year.”

As organisations migrate their business operations and resources to the Cloud, it has become of utmost necessity to have highly qualified professionals. As a domain, it has a lot to offer in terms of business scalability as well as lucrative job opportunities to skilled youths. Acquiring high-level knowledge of Cloud solutions such as AWS services and Microsoft Azure, along with hands-on experience, will allow them to kickstart their careers effortlessly.


4. Data Science

Companies are able to optimise their business profitability by collecting, analysing enormous volumes of data, and drawing insights from it to discover solutions to business challenges.

Data Science has become a major asset for decision-making and profitability. An Analytics India Magazine’s study on the availability of opportunities in the Data Science space revealed, “In India, the number of vacancies for Data Science-related jobs has increased by 53%.”

Building proficiency in Data Science techniques and tools will allow youths to fast-track their careers in the competitive market with lucrative packages. According to Payscale, “An entry-level Data Scientist with less than 1-year experience earns between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh annually.”

5. Product Management

The ongoing pandemic has dramatically influenced consumers’ mindsets and demands, leading businesses to enhance their products and services to stay competitively relevant and sustainable. Whether the organisation is a big IT giant, building a state-of-the-art product or a small startup offering food services, it doesn’t matter. Organisations have realised that today, success is possible with efficient Product Management.

Thus, they are actively hiring professionals with proficient Product Management skills to join their product teams. Not only this, as a domain, it offers lucrative career opportunities to everyone with relevant skill sets, no matter from which educational background they come from.

Today, there are more than 20,000 vacant Product Manager positions available in the country, which means this is the best time for youngsters to upskill in this domain for building a promising career.

Conclusion

Today, education is not confined to what is taught in schools and colleges, but the scope of learning has become wider, owing to the evolving market and technological advancement.

To secure a career in the competitive and evolving job market, upskilling and remaining industry-relevant is crucial for youths. Acquiring expertise in the above-mentioned domains will offer great placement opportunities to the youths and help them build a promising and recession-proof career.

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Accelerating impact with digital HR

Even before the onset of the pandemic, analytics, along with digital transformation, has been revamping every aspect of the corporate world, including Human Resources (HR). Businesses today have been compelled to adopt a more agile working model to ensure that the workforce stays motivated, engaged, and productive. The new normal of working from home has triggered a ‘swift shift’ in workforce management.

According to a Gartner report, nearly 50% of the surveyed organisations stated that 81% or more of their employees are working remotely. This change in the workforce ecosystem has presented HR with new challenges. Over the last year, HR departments have been aggressively and speedily working towards creating new policies and regulations to ensure employee engagement and safety, new metrics to monitor employee productivity, and building innovative practices that can help them achieve a work-life balance while working remotely. And all this was achieved seamlessly by leveraging the advantages of ‘people analytics’.

The pandemic has offered organisations an exceptional opportunity to reimagine their workplace strategy. By incorporating people analytics and embracing digital transformation of the HR department, companies have taken a giant leap towards building a more collaborative and efficient workplace. A recent CEB Analytics study revealed that companies that have successfully adopted HR analytics can improve talent outcomes by 9%, generating a 4% gross improvement and USD 12.8 million in savings for every USD 1 billion in revenue. It equips HR professionals to make smarter, more strategic, deeply data-driven and goal-focused decisions during recruitment, employee engagement as well as employee retention. Google’s HR team, known as ‘People Operations’, has effectively reinvented HR within their organisation by incorporating people analytics. The result? High retention rates with an employee survey participation rate of over 90%. organisations today have begun to recognise the significance of analytics and digital transformation in workforce management.

Here’s how People Analytics & Digital Transformation will shape HR

  • Boost recruiting & retention: Utilising predictive analysis in personnel data, HR professionals can analyse potential candidates’ historical and real-time data sets. It will help determine whether a candidate is a good fit for an organisation before hiring thereby improving the organisation’s recruitment and retention process.
  • Strategic decision making: Analytics and digital transformation will enable HR agility to build flexible teams, facilitate remote working, third-party staff augmentation, digital processes, and streamline governance, thus helping them glean meaningful insights that will help in strategic decision making.
  • Reinvent HR: Incorporating digital HR will allow organisations to accelerate migration to cloud-hosted HR applications and platforms. Adopting advanced analytics tools and smart automation will enable HR leaders to eliminate manual tasks and replace them with paperless processes. Incorporating digital technologies and models in HR operations will improve recruiting, learning, performance management and strategic workforce planning capabilities.

It is abundantly clear that people analytics is the future of Human Resource Management. As per LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends survey, 73% of HR leaders said that incorporating People Analytics will be a major priority for their company in the next five years.

Companies are proactively looking for HR professionals skilled in utilising advanced HR analytics and digital tools to make data-smart decisions. Google search shows more than 1,690 lakh open people analytics job roles in the country. Honing your analytical skills can help you improve your decision-making competencies and empower you to become a future-ready data-smart HR professional in a dynamic workplace.

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Remote and reliable

Despite education moving online and schools and Higher Education Institutes conducting assessments and exams remotely, some people remain undecided about the reliability of the latter. As educational institutions prepare for the next academic year, online assessments will need to be on the schedule to ensure timelines are not derailed and students’ futures not jeopardised.

Sustainable innovation
The development of e-learning tools and new technologies has brought rapid changes in the way learners acquire knowledge and skills. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, the global online exam proctoring market was valued at $354.37 million and is estimated to reach $1,187.57 million by 2027. This goes to show that this change is a sustainable disruptive innovation that is here to stay.

A need for openness and accountability has emerged with the increasing popularity of e-learning. In India, our education system is exam-oriented; hence, it is important to have an assessment plan in place. Despite hesitancies, many institutions have adopted the secure and feasible option of AI-enabled exam management solutions to assess students.

Remote proctoring
The conventional method of physical invigilation has constraints in terms of its scalability and logistics. With the pandemic still raging, remote proctoring is a safer option, as invigilators can effectively monitor students through biometrics, audio, video, keyboard handwriting, ambient noise, and more. With these advanced AI-enabled tools, online exams can easily be conducted for multiple users across geographies without worrying about malpractice. It allows candidates to appear for an exam from any place as long as they have reliable Internet connectivity and a smart device with a working webcam.

Reliable assessments
While we find a way to successfully navigate the COVID-19 situation, we also need to analyse and establish new methods to impart knowledge, conduct exams securely, and assess and evaluate performance accurately. A speedy embracing of technology to transform education and assessments in the new normal will enable the system to become more authentic, appropriately automated, continuous, and secure. Online assessments allow the convenience of setting exam schedules, managing candidate validation and authentication, carrying out exams securely, and monitoring candidates online. Since everything is automated, evaluation is timely and error-free and there are no untoward instances like paper leaks, loss of answer scripts, or any malpractice during exams. Can an exam be more secure and reliable?

The infrastructure that is in place will play a key role in how quickly institutions shift in this direction. Remote assessments ensure data integrity by giving permission only to authorised personnel. In India, data infrastructure is crucial because institutions need to collect, store and assess thousands of students online, and ensure that data is processed in an appropriate manner.

While some institutions have got their data integration strategy well on the trajectory, it needs to be made mainstream. The second step is to advance towards learning analytics or use data to track how a student is progressing, assess behavioural change, and help them become successful individuals.

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