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    Tech grads sign up for 'bootcamps' to be more employable


    The demand for fast-paced and rigorous skilling programs, known as "bootcamps," has increased significantly in India due to a dull job market and the rapid pace of change in tech job profiles. Many young graduates are enrolling in these programs to gain new-age tech skills and improve their employability. Companies like Great Learning, Upgrad, Coding Ninjas, Scaler, and Newton School have seen a 2-3 times increase in demand for bootcamps in the last 6-12 months.

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    The decision to let go of the only worthwhile placement offer that he received while studying at Chennai's SRM College was a tough call, but Ram K knew he would not make much of it. The realisation that a bachelor's degree in electronics would only make him eligible for a business development role spurred the 22-year-old to sharpen his tech skills.

    Ram enrolled for a 4-month 'bootcamp' in data analytics with an upskilling company. "Upskilling is the only way to stay abreast with rapidly evolving tech jobs," he says.

    Demand for 'bootcamps' - fast-paced and rigorous skilling programmes - has shot through the roof as a dull job market and the rapid pace of change in tech job profiles are prompting young graduates to upgrade themselves on new-age tech skills. Many enrol in these bootcamps to gain a foothold in the professional world.

    Bootcamp, a word borrowed from the military lexicon, has become the master-key to open the doors of employment for many young graduates wanting to build skills in niche tech areas such as generative AI, machine learning, cloud, coding, cybersecurity, DevOps, data science and fullstack.

    Companies like Great Learning, Upgrad, Coding Ninjas, Scaler and Newton School have seen demand for bootcamps increase by 2-3 times in the last 6-12 months.

    Students from leading engineering colleges such as National Institutes of Technology and Vellore Institute of Technology, as well as several other institutes are queuing up to raise their skill levels.

    "The premium on skills is increasing even more as the job market gets tighter," said Hari Krishnan Nair, cofounder of Great Learning, which has seen a 90% increase in demand for its short-term upskilling courses in the last 6-8 months.

    "Even 12-18 months back companies were not so choosy when it came to hiring freshers. But the approach now is to get readily deployable talent," he added.

    Besides freshers, early career professionals (with 1-3 years of experience) too are looking to learn the ropes of the new-age skills and are adding to the demand.

    "The job situation in colleges is not so good and the kind of roles in demand, especially in the area of technology, is also fast changing. A lot of people are trying to bridge the delta by upskilling," said Mayank Kumar, cofounder of UpGrad, which he said is recording two-and-a-half-time growth YoY.

    In the edtech parlance, bootcamp courses are typically done in short, snappy 4-6 months modules. There are also some courses that run up to 12 months.

    The majority (75-80%) of the students are from engineering background, while the remaining are mostly from other tech, science or maths streams.

    The course fees for many of these programmes could range between ₹50,000 and ₹5 lakh, depending on the programme structure and placement assistance.

    "The market has definitely changed for technology jobs ... People have to upskill much more to compete for the jobs available," said Ankush Singla, cofounder, Coding Ninjas, whose learners include professionals, fresh graduates and people who want to move from non-IT to IT fields.

    "There is a steady increase in demand from working professionals looking to upskill and transition to better jobs," said Abhimanyu Saxena, cofounder of Scaler and InterviewBit. "Every month we start a new cohort. Currently we have 16-20 active cohorts, with about 2,000 learners in each cohort," he added.

    A strong trend towards data science and AI jobs is prompting many to upskill specifically in these two areas, said Siddharth Maheshwari, cofounder, Newton School, which launches a course every month, each of about 100 students comprising mostly early-career professionals. There is also a strong demand from non-IT learners looking to transition to IT jobs. "We've had learners from the pharma background going to data analyst roles through upskilling on our platform," said Maheshwari.

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