India has been a cradle of innovation and technology for centuries. In the recent decades, there has been a paradigm shift towards imparting high quality college education. With the advent of institutions like IITs and NITs, the quality of education has vastly improved but unfortunately it caters to a select few.
A large number of students have little access to quality education. They pour in big bucks, get admitted to private colleges, accumulate huge student debt and have negligible access to decent income opportunities. There is a perspicuous and stark dissociation between affordable education and rewarding employment. This colossal debt trap engulfs millions of students every year and renders them with a bleak future.
At the same time, India has witnessed a staggering surge in AI related job opportunities in the current decade. It is estimated that by 2021 there will be 3 million job opportunities alone in the AI domain. In the last 4-5 years, Data Science has become one of the most highly sought skills in the IT industry with salaries almost double of the conventional IT jobs. Because our traditional education model suffers from its inherent shortcomings, there is a tremendous gap between the demand and supply of workforce with relevant AI knowledge and skills. Even within the IT sector, the conventional jobs are not lucrative enough. They get meager income, which is insufficient at times to meet their monthly expenses and pay off their hefty education loans.
These are the major challenges which are being addressed by AlmaBetter founded by two IIT Kharagpur graduates, Shivam Dutta and Vikash Srivastava.
AlmaBetter is a platform to educate and prepare students for modern-day careers such as Data Science by combining the best aspects of MOOCs, vocational schools, apprenticeships and bootcamps. While studying with AlmaBetter, students don’t have to worry about paying for tuition or accumulating student debt. Instead, upon landing a job after graduation, they make small monthly payments.
“Traditional education puts all the risk on an individual student, while skill schools like AlmaBetter can remove the risk of education and provide equity on the skill frontier. Financial risk associated with education is a major cause of anxiety among students.”, says Shivam who heads the placement department at AlmaBetter.
Vikash, who heads the learning department, says “Education is a major component that can break down all social inequities, and AlmaBetter can provide a pathway to thousands of people to build their careers in Artificial Intelligence, thus making a profound impact in the world.”
Below is a comprehensive overview of the Data Science program currently offered by AlmaBetter:
Popular under the cognomen of Learn-Earn-Return or in short LER, the 8 month long program caters to final year students, graduates as well as working professionals yearning to get high paying jobs in the Data Science domain.
Students’ success is at the heart of the LER program. Ensuring appropriate learning outcomes is the utmost priority at AlmaBetter. Students have to go through live lectures, live doubt sessions, quizzes and assignments on a daily basis. At the same time, students are exposed to real world problems in Data Science through project based study, interview oriented learning and regular guest lectures by industry experts and professionals. A perfect amalgamation of learning approaches ensures that each student is able to master every topic and is confident enough to communicate those concepts even to a layman.
One of the remarkable features of this program is a perfect blend of personalized mentorship and dedicated career coaching. Each student has an option to choose their mentors. These mentors are highly experienced Data Science professionals coming from top companies and provide personal guidance to the students. At times students might face problems in understanding a particular topic or in solving their assignments, and that’s where the role of mentors becomes prominent. A friendly mentor provides adequate attention and motivation to students to help succeed in their learning.
AlmaBetter provides strong placement support for their students through an expanding network of hiring partners ranging from high growth startups to mid-sized companies and big corporates. The placement drive begins in the last month of the 8 month long program. Starting from resume building workshops, job portfolio creation and mock interview sessions, the profiles of students are forwarded to a plethora of companies operating in various domains culminating in high paying job offers from the participating companies.
Once the students are placed with a salary above 6 LPA or get a hike of at least 25% on their existing CTCs, they make tuition payments through small and flexible EMI options. This is ensured through an Income Share Agreement.
The Data Science LER program is an online program ingrained with most of the salient features of traditional physical learning. These initiatives allow for building real relationships among students even in a virtual classroom setup. AlmaBetter emphasizes intensely on group collaboration and community based learning, thus generating opportunities for students to showcase their calibre and share their experiences through standups and meetups. Sitting in front of a laptop for hours might be overwhelming for quite a lot of students and hence it is imperative to incorporate interactive classroom methodologies to foster the best learning environment for the students.
AlmaBetter has been gaining a lot of traction for quite some time with hundreds of students applying for the program on a daily basis. Out of these, highly committed individuals are selected for the program. At this moment, three cohorts have already graduated with high paying jobs in startups and MNCs. With promising success stories, AlmaBetter is all set to become a pioneer in the EdTech space envisioning to create the next gen tech workforce in AI and challenges the traditional education system.