Interview with Anish Srikrishna, CEO of Times Professional Learning

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Picture_ Mr. Anish Shrikrishna

How will NEP 2020 shape the future of Indian education? What is the expected impact of the newly announced NEP 2020 initiatives? Anish Srikrishna

NEP 2020 aims to create a holistic structure for the growth and penetration of education across India with the inclusion of technology. The introduction of vocational learning from grade six will help learners develop their skills at an early age and choose their career path as they pass out. Its implementation will ensure universalisation of education as foreign universities will be allowed to open campuses in India. The introduction of four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate programmes, greater autonomy to educational institutes, the opening up of online degrees from prestigious universities and the setting up a National Research Foundation will lead to industry-driven employment
opportunities for learners. These measures according to the NEP will increase the GER in higher education and vocational education from 26.3 per cent to 50 per cent in 2035 by adding 3.5 crore new seats to higher education institutions.                        
 

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What are the emerging trends in the higher/executive education domain? How has higher and executive education evolved since the pandemic hit?

The overall trend in Higher Education is to bridge the gap between industry needs and academic curricula while making education more accessible and affordable for the learners. There has specifically been a shift in demand for skills in emerging technologies. Against this backdrop, there has been an immense demand for and onboarding of courses ranging from Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, and Gamification, among others. The emphasis is on accelerated programmes, upskilling, and online certification, with a focus on enhancing employability by staying current and relevant. Institutes have curated their programmes based on occupations making them accessible and affordable. Several industry-specific degree courses and micro-credential programmes have gained traction, which is focused on a particular skill set. Blended and hybrid course models have become the norm for dissemination of these programmes and in future, they will likely replace brick and mortar institutions.
 
How has digitization impacted the ed-tech domain? How is it helping individuals achieve their higher education/executive education goals?

COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of digital learning and brought in a revolution in the education sector at all levels. At long last, it has become possible to envisage scale in private education at a large, national level and this has helped bring to our learners high quality, curated learning content at affordable prices from the comfort of their homes. The Indian EdTech sector has reaped the benefits of the technology boom along with the vast penetration of digital devices and high-speed internet, which have eased the onboarding of online education during the pandemic. Several highly
reputed institutes have offered skill-specific courses giving greater accessibility, affordability, and acceptability to learners. Due to disruptive changes owing to COVID-19, technology has acted as an enabler in reducing the distinction between online and offline programmes. This has led to both first job seekers as well as working executives opting for these programs to develop their skills.

Is upskilling becoming imperative for a working professional? What are the reasons? How are hiring trends evolving in the current scenario? Which jobs do you foresee demand for in the next 5 and 10 years?

All professionals are looking for continuous professional development based on rapidly-changing trends and industry requirements, which call for upskilling at several levels of work-life. Upskilling has become a more pronounced need with the pandemic accelerating digital transformation at workplaces. Despite the current situation that has affected growth and hiring, there is immense optimism that we will reach the FY2020 levels of recruitment and aim for steady growth going forward. During the last 18 months of lockdown, we have seen rationalisation in terms of hiring, especially across high-touch service industries including tourism and hospitality, banking, retail, etc. These industries are slated to regain traction now with incremental growth emerging from the non-metros. Also, the growth in demand for software services during the pandemic has led to a shortfall of qualified personnel. This sector has witnessed a reverse supply trend as companies are forced to recruit at a premium. Over the next 5-10 years, I envisage the traditional hiring sectors like tourism, hospitality, and banking & finance will start picking up with a focus on new growth from tier II-IV cities due to the development of infrastructure. Demand for professionals excelling in coding, critical thinking, AI, ML, etc. will continue to be highly sought after.

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How do TPL’s offerings benefit students and professionals in charting a successful career trajectory despite the upheaval in the global economy and nature of jobs?

Times Professional Learning’s market offerings are through its two brands, TimesPro and TSW or The Second Wind. TimesPro has been focused on market-driven employability programs and enables young graduates to gain first employment. The focus has been in sync with industry requirements, which finds resonance among youth. For instance, over the last five years, TimesPro has graduated over 20,000 students who have found gainful employment across the banking & finance, supply chain and analytics sectors and the brand has recently launched a programme in Full Stack Web Development. We have also introduced a novel, learning enablement scheme called LEAP (Learn, Earn, And Pay) where we offer students the opportunity to pay their fees only after getting a job. Our executive education programmes offered by The Second Wind (TSW) realises the skill gap in the workforce across levels of management. We offer the best-in-class programmes in technology, management and leadership from premier institutions in India like IIMs, IITs etc., and some global institutions, which are relevant to working professionals looking for skills.
 
Could you describe the journey of TPL? Where do you envision TPL over the next decade? TPL’s expansion plans and growth outlook?

Times Professional Learning has had a phenomenal growth path. Over the past five-six years, we have grown to become a provider of professional skills for a wide age demographic of 18-55 years touching over a million learners across our segments. While we started off as a hybrid learning company with a network of physical centres, we have been able to quickly pivot to a fully online presence since March 2021. We have grown revenues @ 95 per cent CAGR over the past six years and we expect to further grow at 10X over the next five years. We expect the Indian market to drive that growth, along with learners from the neighbouring countries, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, who would be attracted to the mix of skilling and employability courses that we offer. 
 
What are the key offerings and USPs of TPL?

Times Professional Learning is committed to fulfilling the aspirations of its learners through various undergraduate and postgraduate courses along with executive education programmes; vocational job-oriented programmes (timespro.com); and an array of corporate training solutions (timesprofessionallearning.com). It also offers various executive education solutions for working professionals under the brand The Second Wind (timestsw.com); and a wide spectrum of organisational learning and development interventions at the corporate level. TPL also fulfils skilling and training mandates under various state and central government initiatives across the country. TPL provides learning solutions across the entire professional life cycle and works with a mission to make quality learning more accessible using high-end technology infrastructure.

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