Even in lockdown, Indian professionals are trying to get a leg up at work

Keeping at it.
Keeping at it.
Image: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe
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Locked up inside their homes, Indians are taking online courses to prepare for work.

Online learning enrollments on American ed-tech platform Udemy surged 200% in India between Feb. 24 and April 12. The first case of coronavirus in India was reported towards the end of January. Between March 24 midnight and May 4, India was under total lockdown.

The most popular online courses attended to by Indians during this period were communication skills and business fundamentals. Globally, though, people were leaning more towards creative courses like photoshop and piano.

“When we look at an Indian learner’s point of view, soft skills and communication skills have not really been a major focus area either at school or a professional degree course. Curriculum is designed with more weightage given to core subjects, as a result, of which communication skills take a back foot,” said Yogesh Bhat, co-founder of Bengaluru-based coding boot camp Masai School. “The impact of this is experienced when one is applying for a job, where most candidates don’t make it past the HR round.”


India’s job market was already weak, with unemployment at a high of 7% before the pandemic. Now it’s at 27%.

“India is at a recession risk, and the job market, which was never on the rise, has now fallen abysmally,” Arjun Mohan, India CEO of upGrad, told Quartz. At upGrad, too, Indians have expressed a higher intent towards business and management programmes.  

Many professionals already had the hard skills for their jobs but during the lockdown, they began “considering subjects like communication and business acumen as their stepping stones to help them go up the managerial ladder,” Mohan said. “Learning softer skills and managerial skills will help fill the lacuna. Unlike Americans and Europeans who are trying to pick up a hobby, Indians now do not have a choice considering the uncertainty which looms in the Covid-19-stricken world.”