Chittaranjan Sahoo, 34, had joined IT major Tech Mahindra as a software developer. But when he saw the demand for data science skills growing exponentially, he decided to upskill via RIDE, the company's learning and development platform. Sahoo pursued an edX course on data science, developed by the University of California at San Diego. After completion, he was selected to work for a telco client and will soon move to the US to work onsite.
According to S.V. Nathan, Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India, "Employees today are as good as their last learning. With the rapid pace of technological advancements, companies are expecting far too much from its workforce in too little time." However, most companies do not have the resources to ensure that up-to-date, quality content reaches its employees on time, at their specific locations. "MOOCs can synthesise all requirements and bring it in the shape and form that people can use anytime and anywhere," adds Nathan.
Organisations, both new and old, big and small, are tying up with MOOC players to help their employees learn and grow. Tech Mahindra has partnerships with a handful of providers, including edX, Pluralsight, Udemy, FutureSkills (promoted by NASSCOM), SAP Learning hub, Mettl and kPoint, among others.
Employees at Tata Communications have unlimited access to Coursera, Skillsoft and Pluralsight, among others via an on-demand platform that enables self-paced learning. Understandably, benefits here are twofold. Employees get personalised content and learn at their convenience. And companies can offer some of the best courses at scale and far lower costs.
As each company has tie-ups with multiple providers, does it lead to a content overload? Vaishali Phatak, Group Function Head, Technical Learning Services, at Tech Mahindra does not agree. "The USP of each player varies in terms of content and focus area and even functionality. Hence, we have to meet the requirements of all functions which serve immediate needs or the needs for future skills." More than 75 per cent of Tech Mahindra employees completed their courses on these platforms. Studies show when companies push for MOOCs, the completion rate goes up. For example, over 4,000 employees at Tata Communications completed various skills certifications last year. Besides, several business units of the telco have functional academies which provide customised programmes. Managers and leaders often ask their teams to acquire specific skills and pursue relevant programmes.
Finally, do learners feel motivated and engaged to pursue their second innings at school? According to Nathan, companies must enable and promote a culture of learning. "They must get the point across that their people need to work on new skills. On the other hand, organisations should make sure that courses are curated with the learners in mind and offer an aspirational value," he says.