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New Delhi: US-based edtech unicorns Udemy, Coursera and Udacity expect India to be one of their largest user bases outside their home turf, after witnessing a huge surge in online learning this year due to the pandemic.

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

San Francisco-based Udemy saw a boost in subscriptions in the country as more people opted for online learning to upskill or reskill themselves in recent months. It also witnessed growing 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 the covid situation," said Irwin Anand, managing director, Udemy.

Course enrollments for Udemy spiked by 200% in the country 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- communication skills (606%), financial analysis (311%) and business fundamentals (281%) - offered on the platform clocked maximum growth in the last six months as work-from-home also motivated professionals to learn new skills.

As the pandemic pushed users to online learning, investments in Indian 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.

“The clear standout sector for VC investment in India has been edtech...it’s quite a diverse area, going well beyond the traditional K-12 model," said Nitish Poddar, partner and national leader – private equity, KPMG in India.

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

“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 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 (IIT) Roorkee IIT Roorkee and will add many more top universities in the near future," said Raghav Gupta, managing director, India and APAC, Coursera.

Gupta added that enrollment grew 681% year-on-year, and he expects the momentum to continue.

According to a recent Coursera Impact Report, India has the second highest number of learners at 9.8 million, after U.S, that has 14 million learners.

California-based Udacity that offers nano degree programs to help learners with new age technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), data science, robotic process automation (RPA) and self-driving cars, is focusing on India to support its growing student and enterprise client base.

In September, Udacity tied up with a Bengaluru-based IT training provider to offer its nanodegree programs to more to over 500 tech companies including HP, IBM and Walmart. “There are hundreds of thousands of open positions in new skills like AI, RPA, and data science, and nowhere near enough candidates to fill them. Our nanodegree programs are designed to provide hands-on training in emerging and cutting edge technology so that enterprises can “create" their own candidates from within their employee pool," said Gabe Dalporto, CEO, Udacity.

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