Lokesh Mehra is one of the leading figures in learning industry. With his expertise on e-learning and training, he currently serves as the Director of workforce development in Oracle. From the current state of Indian education to the trends we should be looking forward to , Lokesh Mehra shares some interesting and enlightening insights that can benefit students and people from education industry alike : –
It is said 80-90% of engineering and MBA students are unemployable, what are they lacking? Is the problem with the education system or does the problem lie somewhere else?
It’s a double-edged sword – while our institutions are grappling to keep the curriculum in sync with the ever-changing technologies (Yes, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is here – artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, IoT – all drivers of disruptive change) and in-demand skill sets, the industry is ideally wanting students to be equipped with knowledge about latest technologies. A balance is sought where institutions can ensure students are very well versed with fundamentals and industry experts can mentor students to keep them abreast on trends. The onus will still reside with students to hone their collaboration (team work)/ communication skills and critical thinking (out of the box solutions). Our education system too needs a revamp where the focus moves from rote learning (Information memorization and brute-force recall) to application orientation i.e. Problem-solving, curiosity, and innovation are key.
With initiatives like Skill in India, is government finally waking up to the skill-gap trouble? Is it enough, what other steps can be taken?
The Government has already woken up to the ripple effect felt in the socio-economic, geopolitical arena with the burgeoning population and breaking demographic structures with urban migration. By 2030, India’s GDP is expected to be $10 Trillion and growing between 8%-10% a year and there is an immense need for a lot more trained people in the workforce to be deployed and those who can manage machines or design better ones. Skilled people are required to raise the productivity of agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Unfortunately with India being too large, any steps taken seems small. I feel the Govt. is in the right direction but needs to ensure technology is being leveraged more extensively for scaling the skill-related initiatives pan India.
One must never stop learning even after getting a job, what is the corporate world doing to achieve that?
Any individual joining the corporate world as a new hire would have to do most of the on-boarding online, completing some mandatory training spanning company values, products and ethics. Ongoing technological changes make it imperative for every employee to be up-to date. On an average in Multinationals, most of the employees have to undertake 32 hours training annually perforce, which could be Online or instructor led. Majority of the corporate also have tie ups which enable the employees to carry out not only technology but soft skill training too.
What is the current state of e-learning in India, where do you see it going?
The India e-learning market touched almost USD 11 Billion in 2016 with a CAGR of 17%. Some trends that we would witness would include gamification, personalized and adaptive learning, knowledge networks and virtual simulated practice environments. Affordability and micro nugget learning would be key factors.
What does it take to get hired by a billion dollar tech firm like Oracle?
Tough to answer as this is contingent on many variables namely domain knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit, risk taking ability and agility to implement things. Other traits like Customer Insight, communication, market trends are considered inherent for any individual.
You have started so many business lines successfully, how do you approach new projects (as in preparation and the routine before embarking on a new challenge)?
Its back to basics like any other business – the 5 W’s – i) what are you planning to sell, ii) who would be your audience, iii) where can they be found or targeted, iv) why should they purchase from you and iv) finally the timing – when. For instance an education project would have academicians and institutes possibly attending a common forum during exam season, seeking a product that could reduce some pain points for them.
What has been the toughest challenge/project you have ever taken?
Building a new product or hiring the correct resource are the toughest. If you don’t have the right individual who cannot position the product in the right manner, you are doomed.
If there was one thing you could advise college student all around India, what would it be?
Focus on problem solving rather than assimilating information.
What’s at the top of your mind presently ? What’s next for you?
Top of mind: How technology based interventions can disrupt education
What’s next: Reaching Mass scale via MOOC’s using Mobiles leveraging Gaming
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