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US-based edtech unicorns Udemy, Coursera and Udacity expect India to be one of their largest markets outside their home turf after a huge surge in online learning due to the pandemic.

While many of India’s homegrown online edtech firms are school curriculum-oriented, overseas learning platforms focus more on professional courses and soft skills programmes.

San Francisco-based Udemy saw a boost in subscriptions as more people opted for online learning to upskill or reskill themselves in recent months. It also witnessed demand from its consumer-faced marketplace and corporate learning service ‘Udemy for Business’.

“India has consistently been one of the top markets for Udemy, and our India operations have always been a priority. We have seen a huge rate of growth in online learning in India during covid," said Irwin Anand, managing director, Udemy.

Enrolments at Udemy tripled in India as people stayed home and used the platform to stay busy, increase productivity or just learn a new skill. Three of the 130,000 courses offered on the platform—communication skills (606%), financial analysis (311%) and business fundamentals (281%)—have led growth in the past six months.

As the pandemic pushed users to online learning, investments in edtech startups jumped to $1.88 billion during January to October compared to $440 million in 2019, according to data from Tracxn, led by fund-raising by Byju’s, Unacademy, Eruditus Executive Education and Vedantu.

Betting on further growth in India, Anand said it is working toward localizing the product experience. Additionally, in India and the Asia Pacific, Udemy plans to increase the team by 50% to add customer service roles, sales operations and marketing jobs to support local customers that include companies like Samsung Electronics, Vodafone, Tech Mahindra and Wipro Ltd.

“Udemy has been an essential partner in upskilling a third of our workforce with content on the latest and more in-demand skills," said Anurag Seth, vice- president and head of talent transformation, crowdsourcing and business continuity, Wipro.

Online learning platform Coursera has been investing in India by partnering with colleges and universities. It has added 5 million learners in the past 10 months compared to 1.4 million in 2019.

“We are expanding our course catalogue and also growing university partnerships in India. We are already working with ISB, IIM-C, and Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee, and will add many more top universities in the near future," said Raghav Gupta, managing director, India and APAC, Coursera.

According to a recent Coursera Impact Report, India has the second-highest number of Coursera learners at 9.8 million, after the US’s 14 million.

Mountain View-based Udacity offers nano degree programmes to help learners with new-age technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and is focusing on India to support its growing student and enterprise client base.

“There are hundreds of thousands of open positions in new skills, and nowhere near enough candidates to fill them. Our programmes are designed to provide hands-on training to enterprises," said Gabe Dalporto, CEO, Udacity.

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