Please give a brief overview of ProTeen; what encouraged you to come up with this platform?
ProTeen was conceptualised by UNIDEL’s founder and chairman, Mr. Sunil Dalal’s, to bridge the gap between career counselling and its accessibility that prevailed in the country. The lack of holistic guide for students in their academic and future career path restricts them from being equipped with the skills they need to survive and thrive in the new world of work.
Sunil decided it was time for the system to be completely overhauled and to achieve the same he started with building a team of entrepreneurially-minded business leaders, innovative and highly skilled engineers, analysts, and psychologists to develop a scientifically relevant and superbly engineered tech platform designed for both the web and mobile — ProTeen.
ProTeen is an integrated digital career guidance platform that helps students through the process of selecting an academic stream, identifying their interests and aptitude, and enabling skill development vital for 21st-century employment. It is designed for both high school and college students and is the essential, first step towards becoming career ready.
What sets ProTeen apart is its robust technology lineage and the science behind the product. The platform draws inspiration from the leading global body of research in cognitive psychology, development psychology, and occupational themes, and most importantly, Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. All this while taking a fresh approach to standard psychometric assessments in use today.
ProTeen operates across a network of students, academic institutes, individual counsellors, and third-party career centres. It has the validation, support, and backing of the Government of India; we are a part of NEAT 2.0, an initiative by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), a Ministry of Education agency.
The pandemic has led to widespread digitisation across sectors. How do you see digitisation and emerging tech transforming the education and career counselling ecosystem going forward?
Online education is going to be a major part of our children’s future. The Indian online education market has been mushrooming at a fast pace for the past decade and will be valued at $8.6 Billion by 2026, according to the India Online Education Market, by Segments’ report (July 2020). India has already experienced the EdTech boom since 2019, particularly in the K-12 segment, and this industry is on an upward trajectory after being triggered by COVID 19 and the subsequent school closures.
As we come to recognise the value of interpersonal relations in the wake of the pandemic, we foresee a winning combination of classroom education and online learning driving the new academic landscape. Educational bodies like NCERT and CBSE have already announced their intention of adopting this hybrid learning model. We see Information and Communications Technology (ICT) playing a crucial role in both teaching and learning, with educators adopting digital apps and tools to enable equitable access in the classroom. We believe the curriculum will also change to reflect this transformation, as spelt out in the NEP 2020. What is more, these changes will have a run-on effect on the emerging career counselling sector in India.
At present, only around one in 10 students get access to career counselling services. This scenario is set to change. Along with the shift from the traditional mode of learning, career counselling, too, has transitioned to a digital model with strong tailwinds from the pandemic. With unstructured counselling being eliminated almost completely, post-pandemic uncertainty will intensify the need for digital career guidance. We are poised to see new inventions and business innovations like never before. Already, gamification and technology are uplifting the career counselling landscape to new heights. Soon Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will provide students access to systems that personalise stream and career suggestions, mapping them to individual passions, interests, and skills. Gamification allows students to explore various 21st-century careers, give aptitude tests in a simulated environment, and even perform collaborative activities with peers for a real-world understanding of jobs. Such game-based elements are not only a familiar landscape for the youth but also make the journey of career selection an enjoyable one.
Please elaborate on some of the trends in career counselling and how you think career counselling has transformed over the years?
The career counselling industry has undergone evolution for over 90 years. In the early days, there were limited choices for students, and this meant a reduced need for career guidance. As globalisation opened up markets everywhere, unconventional jobs were created. New skills and talents are now in demand. Young students (and their parents) wanted to explore these novel opportunities, and the demand for career guidance grew. Career counsellors thus evolved to become the bridge between students and the perfect career. India now has a major deficit in this area — we need 1.4 million career counsellors to achieve the International School Counsellors Associations’ (ISCA) prescribed student-to-counsellor ratio of 250:1 — recognising the desperate need for career guidance availability for millions of Indian students. In fact, 44% of Indian youths polled in the Indian Education Diary’s 2021 survey considered career guidance to be a crucial step in choosing a field of study and subsequently, a career. Presently, multiple trends are reshaping the career counselling landscape.
Ever-evolving career opportunities: The post-pandemic narrative spells out a different career landscape from the one our parents and elders experienced. The job market is changing, and students will be expected to acquire new skills and expertise to distinguish themselves from other candidates. This kind of evolution is not new — we experienced a similar change with the invention of modern computing in the mid-1900s, and then again when the internet was invented in the early 1980s. Such continuous innovation-led disruptions influence the employment landscape and keep job seekers and the industry on its toes.
The new-age career counsellor: Today’s career counsellor needs to be a trained and certified specialist, well-versed with the new work environment. They should be able to adapt to digital platforms and use such tools to not only explain 21st-century employability skills to students but also guide them towards the right career path. They must be future-proofed, with sharpened skill sets that can seamlessly aid students’ transition into the new world of work.
Integration of technology: Digital technology and associated services are an efficient way of delivering career counselling services to students everywhere, particularly in remote and rural areas. Today’s career counsellors use a variety of digital tools and technologies to provide innovative solutions to students. Virtual sessions, automated assessments, and technology-led activities (e.g., career role-playing games) are all tools in the new-age career counsellor’s arsenal.
Gamification in career counselling: Gamification makes the career exploration process more interactive and immersive. Peers can collaborate and instil fun into tasks that were otherwise performed individually — quizzes and role-plays. Gamified simulations introduce different careers, offering students a real-life glimpse into various jobs. Gamification also exposes students to real-life work scenarios from the comfort of their homes. These changes are only the beginning of career counselling in India. We foresee much bigger and better innovations that will shape our new normal for decades to come.
It is predicted that as the Indian economy evolves, digital education and career counselling will undergo significant changes over the next few years. What are your thoughts on the change and ProTeen’s role in it?
EdTech platforms are launching new solutions, academic institutions are learning to balance the hybrid model of instruction, and there is a widespread push towards online education. We predict that these trends will continue on a grander scale than pre-pandemic levels.
As we are still finding our feet in the new hybrid model, we are still in the nascent stages of balancing online learning with classroom education. Students continue to give in to immense social pressure to opt and conform with traditional job roles while battling a severe lack of expert career guidance. Add to this a burgeoning skill gap — by 2030, an estimated 260 million Indian youth will leave school without skills suitable for the modern workforce — which may result in a crisis that will negatively impact schools, universities, and industry. The pandemic revolutionised student and parent expectations and dreams — they are now opening up to new ways to discover their future academic and career path.
ProTeen envisions empowering these students to make informed decisions on the path to becoming career-ready. We combine scientifically backed technology with expert personal guidance for a holistic view of career development. We understand the importance of human intervention, which is why we have built a career counselling ecosystem to link every stakeholder across this landscape, whether they are students, academic institutes, individual counsellors, and/or third-party career centres.
We believe career counselling is not a luxury, it is a crucial step in a student’s academic journey. It is the only way to prepare generations of young students for a rapidly evolving world.
ProTeen recently came up with a revamped platform. Can you please elaborate on some of the new additions you have made to the platform?
We at ProTeen understand the need to keep up with the constantly changing educational and employment landscape. Therefore, the ProTeen platform is always evolving and innovating to ensure the best results for every student.
Starting out as a research project in 2015, ProTeen recently upgraded its next-gen platform in response to feedback from our users and the wider educational ecosystem. India’s first fully digitally powered and integrated academic stream and career guidance platform now has multiple new features for an even better user experience.
- ProTeen’ 3D Awareness Engine provides integrated academic and career guidance, analytics, and empowers students, counsellors, and parents
- ProTeen’s comprehensive psychometric assessment is built on parameters of Aptitude, Interest, Multiple Intelligences, and Personality- all measured through a proven scientific process.
- ProTeen’s analytics and insights simplify complex concepts to ensure that all students and their parents have a clear actionable academic and career path.
- Students in classes 8-10 receive recommendations for top academic streams and subjects, and those in classes 11-12 and older are recommended the best career options aligned with their psychometric parameters.
- Our most disruptive feature, Career Demos, allows students to experience various jobs from the comfort of their homes. This is integrated with gamified role-plays and activities for a holistic and experiential overview of hundreds of career options. These exclusive features facilitate an easy understanding of 21st-century careers.
- An upgraded dashboard presents students with personalised information, clearly defined steps, and an easy user experience for increased engagement.
- 100+ in-vogue and trending job options – from unconventional food taster to the trending social media influencer – have been added to the existing library of 500+ careers on our platform to help students make an informed choice in the ever-evolving career world.
- ProTeen has designed its platform’s architecture and technology for wide-scale collaboration with third-party education platforms like schools, colleges, universities, and other career counsellors; we can thus adapt to the needs of today’s tech-driven education and employment market.
- ProTeen addresses the digital divide students face in India, by connecting them with local ProTeen powered career centres. We have built a network of career centres and experts that facilitate smart career decisions from anywhere, anytime.