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June - 2016 - issue > CEO Insights

Free Online Learning - A Scalable Solution to India's Skill Shortage

Mike Feerick, CEO & Founder, ALISON
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Mike Feerick, CEO & Founder, ALISON
An Ireland based global online learning community, ALISON provides high-quality online education resources to learners in the areas of IT Literacy, English Language, Financial Literacy, Math, Business Skills and Health & Safety

The government of India's aim of creating a 500-million-strong skilled workforce by 2022 is both ambitious and an economic necessity. The only way to up-skill so many people in a meaningful way in such a short space of time is to embrace and develop the growing opportunity of free online learning. India and the world must face this unique challenge together; it is estimated that by 2022, 17 percent of the world's workforce will reside in India making the up-skilling imperative not just an Indian but an international one. According to a 2014 Economic report by the National Skills Development Authority, only two percent of India's workforce is adequately skilled for the modern workplace.

Free workplace learning solutions pioneered since 2005 are changing the up-skilling landscape of the world of work at a very rapid pace. Free learning ecologies have the capacity not just to change and empower individual lives, but to change and empower whole economies. Freemium models hold the greatest potential. The view of 'Free' services as somehow inferior is being left well behind as people fully accept and engage with other no cost services such as Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, knowing full well that a flexible business model allows these companies to be both free and hugely profitable at the same time.

Free learning ecologies mean that the cost of providing education and skill training is not borne by the student directly, but by advertising and the sale of optional parchment and other learner premium (paid) management solutions. All learners can access the learning for free once they can gain access to the internet, currently estimated at 35 percent of the population of 1.36 billion people.

For India, the free online learning revolution matters most in regard to practical workplace skills training, helping people to upskill and to secure better-paid employment. India needs modern workplace skills, from accounting to project management, from digital literacy skills to human resource management and from sales and marketing to coding skills. In a Manpower group Survey, 67 percent of Indian employers reported that they struggle to find employees with the necessary skillset.

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