Aptech Limited: Unleashing your Potential through Dedicated and Innovative Approaches

Aptech Limited
Dr. Anuj Kacker | President and Executive Director | Aptech Limited

The prominent e-learning solution providers offer engaging and seamless training and education programs in a cost-effective manner.  They help clients to fulfill their specific business objectives with their agile and contextual services.

One such leading e-leaning company which is delivering cutting-edge customer-focused solutions is none other than Aptech Limited. Established in 1986, in Mumbai, the company provides a plethora of vocational and non-formal academic curriculum-based training programs.

In an interview with Insights Success, the company shares about its various training programs, its journey in the e-learning industry, its opinion about the e-learning market space, and its plans. Following are the highlights of the interview:

  1. Kindly mention in detail about your company/institution

With over three decades of strong experience in the vocational skill training and non- formal academic curriculum-based training programs, Aptech Limited is a pioneer in the non –formal vocational training business in the country with a significant global presence. Ever since its commencement in 1986 and with a current presence of over 800 centres globally, Aptech Limited has effectively ventured into diverse sectors ranging from IT training, media & entertainment, retail & aviation, beauty & wellness, banking & finance, pre-school segment amongst others. Aptech Limited has successfully trained students, professionals, universities & corporates through its two main streams of business- Individual training and Enterprise Business Group.

Under Individual Training, Aptech offers career and professional training through its multi brands- Arena Animation, Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC) (both in Animation & Multimedia), Lakmé Academy powered by Aptech (beauty and grooming), Aptech Learning (Information Technology, Aptech Hardware & Networking, English Leaning Language & Banking & Finance), Aptech Aviation & Hospitality Academy, Aptech International Preschool amongst others.

Enterprise business includes Training and Assessment Solutions for Corporates and Institutions (Aptech Training Solutions, Aptech Assessment & Testing Solutions). Aptech Limited has been recognized as a Great Place to Work (2017 & 2019) won the Golden Peacock National Training Award (2019) and appraised at Maturity Level 5 of People Capability Maturity Model (PCMM) in the year 2020.

  1. Brief us about the featured person and their journey in the e-learning space.

Dr.  Anuj Kacker currently holds the position as President and Executive Director, also a member of the board at Aptech Ltd.  In this executive role, Dr. Anuj is responsible for Individual Learning and Skill Development retail business lines for all of the brands at Aptech Ltd including Arena Animation, Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), Lakme Academy powered by Aptech (LAPA), Aptech International Preschool, Aptech Computer Education, Aptech Hospitality& Aviation Academy etc.

Dr.  Kacker heads these business lines at Aptech Ltd both for India as well as International. Under his stewardship, he has been instrumental in accelerating the company’s rapid growth and expansion making a home-grown brand Aptech Ltd, a global entity. Dr.  Kacker has proved his mettle in developing the business in countries across four continents and culturally as diverse as India – Vietnam, Middle East and Nigeria. Over the last three decades through these and similar initiatives for building employability and skill development, he has impacted millions of lives, especially the youth.

By virtue of his long experience, strategic foresight and achievements, Dr.  Kacker is a well-respected stalwart in the Training and Skill Building Industry. He is active in many governments, inter government as well as trade bodies including the ASEAN-India Business Council, The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). He is a member on the Governing Board of the Media and Entertainment Sector Skill Council which is the nodal body in India for developing the skill ecosystem for Media and Entertainment. Dr.  Kacker is the recipient of the ‘Indira Super Achiever Award’ which recognized his contribution to Talent, Competence & Skills Building.

Dr.  Kacker is an Electronics Engineer from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and has a post -graduation degree in management from Indian Institute of Management (IIM, Kolkata), – two of the most premier institutes of higher learning and research in India.

  1. What is the current industrial scenario of the Indian e-learning market space?

India has become the second largest market for E-learning after the US. The sector is expected to reach US$ 1.96 billion by 2021 with around 9.5 million users. In India, the online education market is forecasted to reach ~US$ 11.6 billion by 2026.

The pandemic has remodeled the old chalk-talk teaching model into one driven by technology. The number of those enrolling for virtual classes has witnessed an exponential rise and the trend is likely to stay. Policymakers in India are now looking to drive engagement at scale while ensuring inclusive eLearning solutions.

India has 35 million students enrolled in higher education contributing to a small gross enrolment ratio (GER) of 26 per cent. China with a larger population has a much higher GER of 51.6 per cent. If we are to achieve the target of 50 per cent GER by 2035 as envisaged by the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, we have to give prominence to online learning.

A futuristic aspect of the Narendra Modi government’s Budget 2020 was the announcement of National Digital Educational Architecture (NDEAR) “for administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs”, which could lead to a learning management system. LMS is driven by AI, supports delivery of online learning and acts as a platform for online content and courses, both in synchronous and asynchronous modes. LMS also includes intelligent algorithms to make automated recommendations for courses based on a user’s skill profile as well as extract meta-data from learning materials in order to make such recommendations even more accurate.

  1. What is the current industrial scenario of the global e-learning market space?

E-Learning Market size surpassed USD 250 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to grow at an exponential CAGR of over 21% between 2021 and 2027. The advent of several new technologies, such as AI, VR, and cloud based LMS, will drive the market growth. The emergence of an AI-enabled e-learning solution will help in the development of smart content, digitized study guides, and real-time questioning.

According to published global statistics,

  • The global industry has since its birth grew by 900% globally.
  • Since its inception, the online learning market fact suggests that by 2025 to hit the $325 billion mark with over two decades.
  • Global markets experiencing 30% annual market growth include Thailand, India, China, and the Philippines.
  • The Asian market, which is the largest consumer, sees a 20% annual increase in its revenue through the online learning industry.
  • As of 2020, mobile e-learning had grown by $38 billion. From 2017 to 2022, there is an expected upward trajectory of $6 billion.
  • At least 60% of internet users have indulged in online learning. This is because they can comfortably do it at the comfort of their time and place.
  • 80% of companies and 50% of institutional students have used an e-learning platform.
  • E-learning takes 40% to 60% lesser time for employees and students than conventional learning.
  • The majority of companies are shifting to e-learning. Around 42% of the institutions have experienced a rise in revenue strong as some costs, such as travel costs, have been significantly cut.
  • E-learning enhances the learners’ retention rate to 25% to 60% retention, unlike while having one-on-one tutoring, which has a retention rate of 8% to 10%. This is because one can quickly revisit what they learned, and they tend to have more control over the process.
  1. How is technology complimenting e-learning in the broader spectrum? How has the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic influenced the global e-learning space?

Online education has received a high degree of attention during the lockdown period mainly because it was the only method available. But online education is not a new discovery made during the Covid-19 period. The advantages and limitations of this medium are well recognized and documented. Pure online education has some definite advantages particularly amongst those who seek self-paced learning and flexibility of timings or place. This is true for many students who are working professionals.

This set also tends to be more self-motivated. Online learning also comes with severe limitations particularly in the younger age group who are below 25 years and are seeking career building skills. As I see it once the immediate need has passed both physical Instructor- led and Remote learning will continue in balance. Blended learning would also gain some traction. The form of medium will be determined by the learner profile, learning objective and convenience factors. The choice will be made by the learner as all forms of education will continue to be available.

Technology in education goes much beyond the use of web conferencing and Learning Management Solutions. All subjects that do not require hands-on skills will go the online way. Others that require competency-based skills need a blend of both online and offline modes.  However, what is certain is that learning providers will deploy a higher degree of technology in the delivery process irrespective of whether the student is in the class or sits at home. This trend is again not new but will receive a big impetus. The choice of such technologies will again be specific to the domain and the learner profile.

Our franchise partners are even today very conversant with use of technology for delivery. For example, our students from Arena Animation and Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC) use Augmented Reality in the class for learning their crafts. Students have access to many proprietary in-house platforms like Creosols and Online Varsity which all are designed to enhance their all-round learning and life skills. Such tools and mechanisms also are competitive differentiators which help the franchisees enroll students. We will continue to enhance the use of technology in delivery which will benefit our students and franchise partners.

  1. What would be your strategic approach to scale your business in 2021 and beyond?

Despite the pandemic, between March – Dec 2020, Aptech Limited across all its education brands –

  • Over 6.4 lac Tutor Hours and over 30.64 lac student hours delivered
  • Close to 4 Lac online classes/batches delivered till date
  • Close to 2000 students have been placed despite the lockdown and we have done 700+ webinars
  • We tied up with Vancouver Center of Entertainment and Arts, Canada for students from our media and entertainment brands that is MAAC and Arena Animation looking for career progression.
  • In association with Media and Entertainment Skill Council we conducted Biggest Virtual Job Fair with over 1500+ registrations

We will continue to leverage and build on our online capabilities considering the ongoing pandemic. Once the normalcy is restored, the company plans to tap into the Tier-2 and -3 markets to enhance business presence in the upcountry locations. The aspirations of students in smaller cities and towns are no lesser than the aspirations of students from urban cities. Online and technology-based learning is democratizing access to quality education. Hence, with our deep technology play we are well placed to cater to the aspirations of the students and professionals in Tier-2 and -3 locations through blended learning model.

  1. What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the e-learning space?

E-Learning Market size surpassed USD 250 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to grow at an exponential CAGR of over 21% between 2021 and 2027.

So, if you are really interested in a franchise or keen to make an entrepreneurial debut in this segment, this is as good a time as any. But the bigger issue is not the timing of the decision but really the decision itself. My advice to the budding entrepreneurs or franchise seekers is that –

(i)Evaluate the company on at least 3 parameters:

(a) Robustness of their business model

(b)Proven track record in franchise business/ Scalability

(c) Prospects of the domain in which you seeking to be a franchisee/ entrepreneur

  1. ii) Define the ‘I’ in your ROI. Let it be involvement instead of investment. In other words, be prepared to be “hands on”

iii) Be clear in your expectations – What will you be bring to the table and what do you expect from the franchisor/ investors

  1. Where do you envision yourself and your company to be in the long run and what are your future goals?

In the words of Jack Welch, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Therefore, what I envision personally and professionally is to mentor/ frientor younger talent and pass on my years of experience and in-depth understanding of the business to drive Aptech Limited to a bigger tomorrow of performance and success.

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