More than degrees, having the right skills is increasingly going to matter for getting the best jobs in the near future.
And while students from top-tier institutes manage to get the real-work experience through their academics, same cannot be said for aided schools or institutes which don’t have a well-equipped infrastructure or faculty to train the students — or students from homes who can barely make ends meet, as they’re the ones who get left out.
In such situations, most of the time, students pass out lacking necessary skills to help them get the jobs they want in today’s world.
To better prepare students and not let finances be a hurdle limiting their skillsets, a group of young graduates from IIT, BITS and IIM’s have started an initiative dubbed ‘India 4.0 – Dr. APJ’ named after our former President) with a promise to educate one crore children from financially backward families.
We got to interact with Girish Akash, IIT Kharagpur graduate and the Vice President of iB Hubs who’s ed-tech startup NxtWave is working on bringing this vision to fruition.
Built by over 500 IIT & IIM alumni who want to make a difference
iB Hubs, the parent company behind NxtWave was established in the year 2016, by a group of young graduates from leading technical institutes of India like IITs and IIMs.
A team of over 500 talented individuals, most of the team members have left their high paying jobs at companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Intel to make India a global leader in 4.0 technologies, Girish calls this the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.
“We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0). A new wave of technologies is disrupting every industry across the globe — technologies like AI & ML, IoT, Data Science, Cyber Security, AR & VR, Blockchain and more. At the same time, 4.0 technologies are creating tremendous opportunities, says Girish.”
He added, “The Future of Skills Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum estimated that 13.3 crore new jobs will be created by 4.0 technologies by 2022. Even with the availability of tonnes of opportunities, more than 60 percent of the young graduates are still being unemployed. It’s because there is a huge gap between what we are learning at the colleges and universities and the industry requirements at the moment.”
“NxtWave is on a mission to bridge this gap between industry & academia by rapidly building industry-relevant skills in people, and connecting them with 21st-century jobs. We’re imparting the right knowledge to youth through various programs empowering them to seize the 4.0 opportunities that are available to them in abundance.”
A promise to educate one crore poor kids for free
Girish explained how NxtWave is trying to bring the dream of our former President to fruition, by offering ways to upskill them and make them ready for the world out there.
Girish explains, “Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has always been a role model for technological development and excellence in innovation. NxtWave envisions every Indian child to dream big like Dr. APJ. Through Project ‘India 4.0 – Dr. APJ’, one crore children from financially backward families will be given free 4.0 education. Building 4.0 skills right from an early age open up immense opportunities for children, be it in the job market or to create innovative products.”
He added, “In addition, children are also trained to develop the right mindset, accelerating both their personal and professional growth. Equipped with the right mindset and 21st-century skills from this program, the children will get ready for well-paid jobs in 4.0 technologies.
Changing lives of over 15,000 kids as of now
The India 4.0 Dr. APJ initiative has already commenced starting October 2020 and as of now they have seen a really positive response from students around the world, “We have received more than 15,000 registrations and people are actively learning on our platform. The project is scaling up with many governments and bureaucrats ready to be part of something like this and make it bigger. With such an interest, we look forward to scaling this up very soon.”
The tech powering this initiative
I was curious to learn what kind of technology is iB Hubs and NxtWave is making the most of to train kids for the future, “For the curriculum and course content, we have in house technology experts who have been building world-class Products in IoT, Cyber Security, AR/VR etc. for quite a while now,” said Girish.
He added, “We have a strong technical team from premier colleges across India who are involved in the development of tech involved. They have pretty much built the advanced learning platform and a complete ecosystem to handle it at scale.”
Challenges while creating a solution for India
An initiative with such a magnitude is bound to be surrounded by several challenges to make ends meet. Girish explained, “There are several challenges such as increasing awareness of 4.0 technologies, overcoming language barriers for children in different parts of the country, identifying the right children, and so on. However, the team has systems in place which would help solve these problems, and that is their major USP. For example, for solving the problem of the language barrier, they would train the children in English also.”
He added, “On the other hand, for increasing the awareness related to the 4.0 technologies, stakeholders such as the Governments have been starting various things for children like NEP. To ensure the right children are benefitting from this program, the team has been reaching out to local NGOs and government schools to identify children from financially backward families.”
Applying for India 4.0 Dr. APJ
Girish revealed criteria for kids who want to sign up for the course, “Children can directly enrol on the website. Children who are 5th – 10th class students from financially backward families are eligible. By financially backward family, we mean family with a combined annual income of less than INR 1.2 Lakhs as well as the total value of family-owned properties worth under INR 5 Lakhs.”
He added that kids who aren’t financially backward and want to upskill their knowledge, they can apply for it too, “For children who don’t meet the above criteria and want to learn 4.0 Education, we have designed a separate CCBP 4.0 program for them,” he added.