UNext reimagines traditional learning in new campaign

UNext Learning Private Limited has launched a multi-film ad campaign that seeks to reimagine traditional learning choices and address some of the current challenges in the higher education ecosystem by going online. The ad films with the tagline ‘Aapka Next, Aapka Right’ created by McCann Worldgroup highlight how students today can overcome the obstacles of distance, accessibility, affordability, and quality content by choosing a next generation online learning partner in UNext to continue their higher education. UNext plans to offer a wide variety of online courses and degrees from top universities and colleges enabling students/learners to have better outcomes and opportunities in their lives.

Commenting on the new campaign launch, Ambrish Sinha, CEO, UNext Learning, said, “In today’s connected world, access to quality higher education is a fundamental right of every student. In the face of increasing cut-offs every year, paucity of seats at leading institutions, and high costs of higher education, learners often feel powerless and are at a loss. Our ad films aim to ease concerns around improving access, increasing affordability, providing good quality content & pedagogy, and enhancing outcomes for the learner community in the online higher education space. This message has been conveyed in an uplifting manner through relatable real-life scenarios to alleviate the stress currently associated with higher education choices. It also brings alive the feeling of empowerment that UNext as a technology platform offers each and every learner – from students seeking graduation degrees to working professionals seeking a career boost.”

Speaking on the creative collaboration, Dileep Ashoka, EVP and General Manager, McCann Worldgroup, said, “It is matter of great pride and joy for us to be partnering UNext in the launch of this game changing higher education platform. The platform meets a clear need gap in the offline education ecosystem and seeks to correct the same through empowerment of the aspiring student community. The strategy and creative work are aligned to this objective and seek to highlight the many predicaments faced by millions of students and provide a solution. The stories are real and rooted – located in the family milieu as higher studies is something that the family gets involved in. We are sure that these will connect and make the necessary impact to empower the student community and give UNext a solid launch.”

Speaking on the ad films, Sambit Mohanty, Head of Creative – South, McCann Worldgroup, said, “They say nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. This applies to UNext as well as the students who aim to enrol there because now they have the liberty to pursue their degrees from renowned universities without high cut-off marks, financial or even geographical constraints. It is this shift of power into the hands of students that our campaign highlights beautifully with the tagline ‘Aapka Next, Aapka Right.’”

The ad films will primarily run on digital platforms and will also be aired on television during the India-England cricket series.

Check out the ads:

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Attrition on the rise: Campus placement jumps in 2021, IT job roles most in demand

As the economy is recovering, hiring activity is showing sharp signs of growth. The Indian job market has witnessed sequential growth for the second month in a row, with a 15 percent rise in June 2021, after a pandemic-linked decline in April and May ’21, reveals Naukri JobSpeak’s report.

Another survey reveals that about 84 percent of employers are actively hiring. What is interesting to note is that campus hires, viz. freshers are being preferred by many large and mid-size organisations. Among the organisations that plan to hire from campuses this year, 47 percent anticipate hiring for less than 50 positions while 12 percent put their forecasts between 51 and 100 positions, reveals CareerNet’s Hiring Outlook.

Hiring takes off after a pause

Hiring was paused and deferred during the first COVID wave but soon organisations have started to adapt to the new normal. The trend of hiring freshers is on the upswing due to the gaps created over the last 15 months, said Sujatha Kumaraswamy, Chief Executive Officer, MeritTrac, online assessment company. During this time, assessment companies have also augmented their capabilities to provide a seamless assessment experience online that is as close as possible to an offline one. This has helped build confidence in HR professionals as these assessments ensure the best-fit hire in the most scientific way possible, Kumaraswamy said.

What has also helped is the slew of assessment tools to measure a candidate’s cognitive, behavioural, domain, communication, and other critical skills. “HR leaders are increasingly convinced of the efficiency and are adopting these newer methods to find the right candidates for their teams. From what we’re witnessing and as per a survey we recently conducted, blended and digital modes of assessments are here to stay – both for their convenience and their effectiveness,” said Kumaraswamy.

In 2020, campus hiring was severely hit across 82 percent colleges in the country due to the pandemic. Firstnaukri.com, an end-to-end campus hiring platforms from the house of Naukri.com, conducted a survey with over 1,300 students across campuses in India which revealed that it impacted internship offers of 74 percent pre-final year students.

But come 2021, and the situation has changed. But why are campus freshers being increasingly preferred? Many of India’s blue-chip firms are actively hiring off campuses. According to reports, India’s largest IT services firm TCS said it has plans to hire about 40,000 freshers from the campuses this year. Infosys too is expected to hire around 35,000 freshers.

Demand and attrition

The recent 8-10 months have seen a spurt in hiring due to both demand as well as attrition. Employers have hired two to three times higher than their average hiring volumes, said Pasupathi Sankaran, Chief Operating Officer, HirePro-technology platform for enterprise recruitment in India. Startups, on account of investments, have also witnessed a hiring spree. With increased hiring, also comes higher attrition, which in turn creates more demand.

“Organisations are increasing their campus hiring volumes to balance this phenomenon. It helps them create a supply chain of trained professionals. Employers are aware of this trend among their peers and competition. This is leading to a war for talent, especially in engineering campuses,” Sankaran said.

Freshers are preferred as campus give students work experience. Of course, it is of a virtual reality kind. But that too helps. Prof. (Dr.) NN Sharma, Pro President, Manipal University Jaipur said, “The amenities provided are to enable students to apply what they learn to projects in virtual laboratories. Our courses, for instance are tailored to help students develop and strengthen problem solving and creative thinking skills through real life case studies. And while fresh graduates may lack hands-on experience, they bring a fresh perspective.” Besides, it is also cost-effective for corporates to hire directly from campuses and build a strong pipeline of emerging talent.

The reality is that hybrid work culture is the new reality. Organisations are working on a new hybrid model of remote and on-site working. Sarita Digumarti, Co-founder & COO, Jigsaw Academy- a data science company, said, “The new model promises increased productivity for individuals and small teams, more flexibility for individuals, and enhanced employee experiences. Amidst such scenarios, to groom campus hires, organisations must opt for virtual high-engagement interventions that will build the competencies of the new campus hires before they join the organisation.”

Jobs in demand

Data is the key to everything in this interconnected online-offline world. According to NASSCOM, India’s tech industry is expected to see a growth of 2.3 percent touching $194 billion in FY 2021. This confirms an increase in opportunities in tech industry sector.

Students are keen on studying data science and analytics that can be applied to any sector – HR, marketing, healthcare, banking, etc. “With the rise of social media, digital marketing is also seeing rapid growth. FinTech is seeing tremendous growth worldwide. Corporate law will see an uptick. With businesses going online and borderless, lawyers will need to safeguard IP, privacy and data aspects of an organisation and ensure legal compliance with various rules, regulations, and authorities.,” said Dr Sharma of Manipal University

Freshers can be prepared for an array of jobs if they have the proper skills in their arsenal. “Freshers can land job roles such as Data Analysts, Business Analysts, Data Scientists, Cloud Engineers, Cloud Developers, People Analysts, to name a few. It’s pivotal for anyone entering today’s workplace to have skills in emerging technologies like Data Science, Cloud, AI, Product Management, Digital HR among others. Thus upskilling themselves in trending technologies, over and above what they learned from their college or university, is going to give a boost to their career,” said Digumarti, Co-founder & COO, JigsawAcademy.

Salaries for freshers can range from Rs 2 lakhs upwards. The remuneration for fresh graduates is determined by the industry vertical, nature of the organisation, job role and the tier of college, said Pasupathi Sankaran, Chief Operating Officer, HirePro. “For IT services, it varies between Rs. 3.5 lakhs and Rs. 8 lakhs; for IT products, it falls in the range of Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs. For graduates, the band is wide open from Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 20 lakhs.”

The picture is not all rosy though. There are some warts too. Though campus freshers are hired, many organisations find it challenging to train fresh graduates they onboard. Freshers not only require to be trained on tech skills but also need handholding in their transition from classroom to corporate work environment as well as understanding the organisational culture. Employers find it difficult to assimilate people to fulfil these requirements. That’s a major reason why lateral hiring is high.

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Indian ed tech companies can benefit from China’s crackdown on sector

China’s crackdown on education companies from making profits, raising capital or going public has wide ramifications. The policy also puts limitations on foreign ownership of these businesses, including merger and acquisitions (M&A), running franchises, etc. The companies aren’t allowed to hold tutoring sessions on holidays or weekends either.

However, there is a silver lining for India’s ed tech sector in this situation, said Abhay Chebbi, Pro-Chancellor, Alliance University. He said, China’s loss in the ed tech sector can be India’s gain if the latter can address four critical issues: last-mile connectivity (about two-thirds of India lives in villages), storage (to overcome frequent power failures), 24×7 availability, and pricing within the reach of all. “Without these initiatives, the sector will open the already deep societal fissures even more” he said.

Recent regulatory decisions for ed tech companies as a part of larger crackdown on large corporates in China can be highly debatable as it may stifle innovation and put constraints on enriched learning and development. Abhishek Kumar Rohit, Associate Professor & Co-Chair – Banking and Financial Services, T A PAI Management Institute, Manipal, said, Indian ed tech companies are well-positioned to benefit from this move as they can be the first choice of available global investments ready to ride on this booming sector. “This would help create better infrastructure in India which may promote deeper penetration of better education and much needed skill development. The EdTech firms should use this as an opportunity and assist in narrowing the inequality gap of learning opportunities in India at all levels.”

Given the fact that India is at a nascent stage in the journey of ed tech and online education across the board, be it primary, K12 or higher education, there is a lot of advantage. Ambrish Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, UNext, said, “The ed tech start-ups in India are regulatory-compliant and have benefitted from the government’s progressive policy in the higher education and skilling space. The low gross enrolment ratios and lack of infrastructure provides a very enabling environment for growth of ed techs in India to benefit and skill our human capital and help in increasing employability. With the aggressive regulatory clamp in China, there will be a migration of capital to India. This also provides an opportunity to Indian ed tech start-ups to build for the world.”

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The future of corporate assessments

The volatility of the pandemic led us to change many things in the way we work. While business continuity plans were quickly activated, and people grew accustomed to the new normal of virtual meetings and remote working, talent management on the whole presented a challenge for HR and other people teams.

In a traditional structure, candidates were assessed on their skills, aptitude, personality, and passion through human interactions and judgments which were prone to error and often biases. The best indicator of a candidate’s competencies and potential was an instinct-based decision. The talent pool was limited, jobs were not as specialised as they are today, and competition was negligible.

Today, the requirement of holistic parameters is evident. The potential to attract talent and develop them in various roles has become crucial for determining the performance of an organisation vis-à-vis its competitors. Digitalization has also led to the revision of talent strategies in organisations. With digital disruption, new skillsets and characteristics are in demand for a successful working environment. The growing need for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and Robotic Process Automation has fueled the needs of the recruitment industry.

In a recent survey conducted by MeritTrac and Behavioural Economics and Science Team (BEAST), 86% of organisations moved hiring and assessment online during the pandemic and 30% had no technology infrastructure in place for online hiring or assessment. The pandemic has dramatically altered the ways organisations worldwide operate, with their recruitment strategies and processes undergoing a radical change. Assessment tools that measure parameters like behavioural, cognitive, domain-specific, interpersonal and communication skills are gaining a lot of traction. Future-focused HR leaders are developing plans to hire strategically through technological advancements. Industry experts are hinting at the slow death of resumes as recruiters seek skill-based assessment to select the right fit for an organisation. This has pushed organisations to use tech-enabled screening for candidates. Employers can predict, understand, and match thousands of people to jobs faster using Artificial Intelligence, psychometrics, and cognitive testing.

The cognitive assessment measures a candidate’s potential to learn quickly, solve difficult problems, comprehend unique ideas, and achieve set goals. The tools not only help to gauge logical reasoning, but also allow the company to assess decision-making and critical thinking skills. Cognitive or psychological assessments assist organisations to anticipate the accomplishment of employees in knowledge-based or vocational roles across different sectors.Behavioural assessments are pointed towards evaluating core skills needed to execute a certain job. They assess abilities that consist of skills, knowledge, and characteristics of an individual. These skills are basic components of a job and the assessment score assists employers to comprehend if the candidate is suitable for the job. Scientific assessments canaid organisations in bettering the disposition of their recently added team members.

We are set to witness a significant rise in remote and hybrid work models in the post-Covid world. The rapid shift to digital technologies will continue into the recovery. Digitization will also transform the employee experience, breaking down barriers of communication and fostering growth, efficiency, and innovation. Reports suggest that 64% of employees would opt for a lower-paying job if they could work away from the office. Along with other aspects of the hiring process, the progress towards virtual assessment has become essential and they are here to stay.

What would work best? An all-in-one advanced, comprehensive plug-and-play assessment solution that HR teams can use to schedule interviews, assess candidates while hiring, evaluate employees, and be able to view and download reports that give actionable insights. Assessment tools will keep on enhancing to keep up with the requirements of the new normal. The pandemic witnessed some paradigm shifts in operational processes, technology, assessment space, competition, and workforce demographics. With the help of these transformations, organisations changed their way of hiring and managing talent. The usefulness of scientific assessment tools has increased manifold and the trend will only grow in the coming years.

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Shiv Nadar University ties up with Jigsaw Academy to offer Data Science & Analytics for Business program

Shiv Nadar University, Delhi-NCR, has joined hands with Jigsaw Academy, India’s top ranked institute for Analytics and Data Science training, to offer a holistic Data Science & Analytics for Business (DSAB) program for students and young professionals to upskill themselves in preparation for a data-driven world that is increasingly becoming digital. DSAB is a comprehensive, eight month, ~200 hours certificate program delivered online in collaboration with Jigsaw Academy, which helps learners to get an immersive, hands-on training on the most relevant analytics tools that businesses around the world are using to solve complex problems.

Owing to the ever-increasing focus on data, gaining new insights and understanding the changing consumer mindsets have become points of paramount significance, and are factors driving the digital transformation of businesses across industries. Over the past few years, demand for skilled professionals in this domain has seen exponential growth.

Dr. Bibek Banerjee, Dean of School of Management & Entrepreneurship, and Director of Strategic Initiatives at Shiv Nadar University, Delhi-NCR, said, “Data is the asset that most 21st century businesses are leveraging to generate intelligence that is powering humans to collaborate with smart machines and create value that is redefining the boundaries of development. The Data Science & Analytics for Business program is designed to equip students with the cutting-edge skills required to create the ‘data-driven intelligence’ that guides such value-creating decisions in organizations.”

DSAB’s comprehensive case study-based approach to real-life business scenarios with practice on rich business datasets will allow learners to build a strong foundation in both, technical and business aspects of data science and analytics.

While talking about this collaborative initiative, CEO & Co-founder of Jigsaw Academy, Gaurav Vohra, said, “Analytics industry experts and hiring managers are very clear about what ‘kind’ of analytics or Big Data and Machine Learning professionals they want to hire. The Data Science & Analytics for Business program’s content caters to the unique requirements of job roles and profiles, creating analytics specialists, not generalists.”

Jigsaw Academy (a UNext company, backed by Manipal Group) is adept in emerging technologies and domains like Data Science, Business Analytics, Product Management, People Analytics, Digital HR, and Cloud Computing and offers upskilling opportunities through comprehensive industry-relevant curricula and unique hands-on experience to fresh graduates and professionals alike through capstone projects.

Shiv Nadar University is a multidisciplinary, research-focused University, and is India’s youngest-recognised ‘Institution of Eminence’, as recognised by the Government of India.

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