#Asia How can edtech startups make learning more relevant in a digital-driven world?


Edtech startups and schools need to help students cope with the increasing demands of soft skills such as leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, and adaptability

Everyone needs an education. It provides you with a distinct perspective on different aspects of life and the world, instills valuable insights to make you a complete person, and above all, helps you select and follow a career path. Unfortunately, a widening gap between skills needed by employers and what education systems are teaching to students makes it difficult for people to meet many jobs’ requirement of critical skills.

McKinsey published a study, Education to Employment, on how education impacts the opportunities and growth in employment. It highlights the alarming problem of mismatch between the job skills employers need today and the skills that education systems worldwide impart to their students. It also draws to attention the many kinks in today’s education system and its inability to cope with the increasing demands of soft skills such as leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptability, and several others.

The issue

A good relationship between skills acquisition and the education system is of paramount importance for solving some of the pivotal problems of the world. Education is the key to unlocking the underlying potential of individuals, countries, and communities. An educated workforce can bridge the poverty barrier, promote civic participation, fortify gender equality, and solve many of the global challenges we face today.

Workers need to focus on learning skills that make them adaptable and flexible in the event of drastic economic shifts and prepare them for uncertainty. They will need a diverse range of skills, including proficiency in numeracy and literacy, coupled with the ability to solve problems quickly, think critically, and work collaboratively. As the digital technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, employees must gird up their loins to respond to the challenges put forward by economic uncertainty, climate change, globalisation, and existing and possible health epidemics.

In other words, the world leaders need to realise the urgency of rethinking the direction of education and take stringent measures to set it on the right path to ensure the younger generation becomes skilled and productive members of the community.

The emergence of the edtech startup scene

Digital technology has roots in almost every area of the global economy, whether it is service, retail, manufacturing, or education. The digital revolution has resulted in a sharp increase in business demand for tech-savvy, highly skilled workers. However, the traditional education system has turned a blind eye to this growing need for the soft skills as well as technical and digital skills in our younger generation.

In the last decade, many online education startups have sprung up after observing the need for a paradigm shift due to the reluctance of education systems moving towards innovation. Hence, the trend of e-learning was promoted. These edtech startups are providing an open source platform for anyone around the globe to acquire the skills in demand by making courses available to them online.

Furthermore, young startups with personalised mentorships and internships are also popping up in a bid to offer the bridge to the skills gap caused by education. For example, Coursera is one such established platform that is continuously updating its list of short courses, called Massive Openly Online Courses, to best cater to the growing needs of employers.

A talent shortage survey done by ManpowerGroup showed that more than 35 per cent of the employers reported facing difficulty in filling certain positions because they lack the right tech skills. With the help of these online platforms, people can opt for training programs, as e-learning provides affordable and easy access to a whole host of learning tools. These resources focus on building a particular skill set and are suitable for a variety of employment opportunities.

Future-proofing people through tech

Edtech startups, employers, and economists should join hands with educational institutions to enforce a business model that not only helps the current workforce to learn the required skill sets but also endows the graduating lot and future workers with talents that make them employable. The digitisation of education and the workplace allows educators and employers to work together in establishing training opportunities that are flexible, convenient, and cost-effective, as well as prepare individuals for the future.

The skills mismatch and the increasing talent gap negatively affects the competitive edge of a business as well as its productivity. Worldwide education systems need to revisit their standards and revamp their curriculum with courses and subjects that teach skills needed today by companies and employers. Doing so will help in bridging the skills gaps, allowing the workforce to be confident and well-equipped to face the current and future challenges, and contribute to the consistent business growth and productivity.

While it may take time to bring out a broad scale change in education systems, governments, educators, and employers can rely on education-technology startups to supply them with the training opportunities to impede the growing skills gap.


The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

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