Changing Landscape of Higher Education: From Corporate Lens

Neha Kharde, Founder & Director, NkubateAn alumnus of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, Neha holds MMS degree specializing in Personnel fumction, and has over 26 years experience in Corporate Human Resources field.

Indian culture has always placed a high emphasis on education. From villages to cities, through government and private education institutes, the value and investment made by a family is disproportionate to any other expenditure. The trend took root in early part of last century and fostered significantly from yester years.

The education sector in India is estimated to be $91.7 billion as sized up in FY18 and expected to touch a new high of $101.1 billion in FY19. With more than 850 universities and 40,000 higher education institutes rapidly growing as per the CARE Research report of 2018, the education sector in India has witnessed exponential growth.

This massive investment in education has given huge demographic dividends and healthy contributions to the biggest growth engine of our economy – the industry. Following factors have greatly contributed towards this growth story:

  • Belief on Education as a key driver of prosperity

  • Willingness to pay disproportionately higher fees

  • Greater awareness to grab higher quality of education (at a higher cost)

  • Corporate’s role in sponsorships or demanding qualified professionals

  • Availability of more women oriented courses

  • Growth of service sector in last four decades

  • Coaching classes, vocational institutes preparing the youth for higher education

  • Tie-ups with international universities for curriculum design and student exchange

At a macro level these factors have contributed to the rapidly changing higher education
ecosystem. However, at a micro level following trends to my mind, are contributing to individual’s uptake of higher education.

Personalised Learning: The preferred way of learning is shifting from classroom based learning to anytime, anywhere format adapting to the individual pace and comfort of learning concepts. The trend is fast catching up even in primary and secondary education though the genesis of that has been from adult learning needs and styles.

Integrated Learning: Learning of concepts integrated with application of same on some identified problems
has gained more acceptances in Corporate learning. It has improved the stickiness of concepts plus added the applicability to problem solve and thereby clearly assign ROI to various integrated learning programs. The impact felt is clearly higher than the non- integrated programs.

Making Learning Interactive: This ensures more engagement and motivation in continuing the learning / courses and helps to self check on absorption of understanding

Adapting New Technologies: Popularly referred to as gamification of learning – Social competition and exchange has proved to be a high engagement factor influencing adult learning.

Online Assessment Tools: These have helped in creating greater selfawareness in the leadership journey at various levels and, especially form a base for an executive education program.

Availability of Various Certifications to Bolster Niche Aspects of Education: This trend has caught up over the years and the need of the professionals to keep pace with the changing domain knowledge has prompted various professional academies to market education by way of certified courses as a key to skill building. From the Corporate lens, above trends have emerged in last few years and they have provided a strong impetus to higher education.

The crux of the transition from a management professional to a leader has to go through a funnel of customised assimilation guidance and coaching and that need is being addressed by mentoring

Based on my personal experience of last 26 years of hiring in the corporate world, a large chunk of it is based on management professionals stepping out of various business schools there is a changing landscape in terms of talent needs. Whilst in the earlier years, the expectation from the industry was to employ an entry level professional with some fundamental understanding of various organisational functions that has now become hygiene. Various new skills are sought after and broadly the demand of data scientists, professionals converting digital trends into business models, Digitization for creating unique customer and employee experience and in demand. Deep skills in technology areas like biotech, fintech, actuarial services, cleantech applications have grown in demand in last 2-3 years.

Apart from building the above technical talent pools, the ask on the HR teams is to scale up the incoming management talent into leadership roles quickly. Lets look at how the education institutes are responding to this need.

Some of the ways in which the business schools are responding to this demand is by way of organizing student exchange programs and widening the global experience of our students subjecting them to international standards of education and make them compete internationally.

Some of them have introduced simulated learning while others encourage taking up live project/part time work with organizations. Another novel practise that is taking some shape is in the form of offering corporate mentorship and is see more in premier business schools with a limited batch size. The crux of the transition from a management professional to a leader has to go through a funnel of customised assimilation guidance and coaching and that need is being addressed by mentoring.

Largely, the world is converging to serve the needs of an individual in a customised fashion whether it’s in fashion industry or catering to one piece of desert being served from a favourite shop-platformization of service has helped in a big way. In conclusion, the days of customising education to cater to the needs to individual/ industry are not far away. With the advent of platforms in e-commerce industry, content being made interactive and learning in byte size formats coupled with online/offline mentoring and coaching may bring this customized futuristic approach to higher education close to reality.