The current youth unemployment rate in India is at 16%. This alarming statistic points to a grim reality – young Indians don’t have the required skill set to succeed in the workplace. Our current education system is failing our youth, who lack communication skills to express simple ideas or have basic conversations with customers, colleagues, and management.
India is transitioning to services and knowledge-based economy, with spoken English skills becoming the minimum requirement for an entry-level position. The table below shows that the majority of engineering graduates fall short of the English skills required across a variety of job roles.
While we need to fix our education system and address the root cause of the problem at the K-12 level, we simultaneously need to address this large skill gap at the young adult level. The only we can bridge this gap is by leveraging technology-based learning solutions.
- Scalable: App-based learning allows us to reach a large number of people without compromising on quality. With smartphone and internet penetration (currently at ~40%) increasing rapidly every year, it’s only a matter of time before every Indian has access to a smartphone and online learning.
- Personalized: Each user goes through his or her individual learning journey based on their current level of English. Unlike a traditional classroom setting, students at different levels progress at their own pace.
- Vernacular Capability: Learning English from regional languages provides a sense of familiarity to students, who otherwise find learning conversational English to be an overwhelming experience. By breaking down words, phrases, and concepts in the user’s mother tongue, app-based learning also makes it a lot easier to learn English.
- Accessibility: Users can learn anytime, anywhere! App-based learning provides users with a degree of flexibility that offline classroom training cannot.
- Lack of Supply: Not only are the absolute numbers of good English teachers low, but they are also concentrated in Tier I and Tier II cities, leaving a large segment of the Indian population in rural India without any access to a quality learning experience.
- Low Cost: App-based programs have low operation costs on account of the training being delivered entirely on the user’s smartphone.
These programs can have an immediate effect on large workforces over the span of a couple of months. Spoken English programs delivered via apps have shown an average increase in 1 CEFR level (international scale of language learning) by the end of 20 hours of self-learning.
Tech-driven training programs do face a couple of obstacles before they are officially adopted by an organization’s HR / L&D department. App-based self-learning is still a relatively new concept, so organizations are hesitant to enroll their employees in these programs. Additionally, an element of intrinsic motivation is required to go through the course – even with the gamified features, multiplayer options, and leaderboards that allow employees and students to compete. Organizations also have a limited training budget & the importance given to spoken English communication skills vary depending on an employee’s job role. However, most organizations are started to realize that regardless of the degree of interaction with the end customer, spoken English skills are critical even for internal communication.
Over the next couple of years, we will see a paradigm shift in the way corporate training is conducted – from the traditional trainer led approach to a more app-based blended learning approach. Communication & soft skill training will be at the forefront of this shift, with organizations recognizing the importance of strong spoken English skills & the advantages of technology in upskilling their employees.
Author Bio: Udit Hinduja is the COO of enguru: spoken English app, which has over 25 million users across India. enguru has over 10 different domain specific courses (English for Retail, English for Hotels, English for BFSI, etc) & is currently being used by over 100+ companies, colleges, skilling centers and NGOs across the country to upskill their students & employees.