Centre for Emerging Market Solutions, Indian School of Business (INDIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 3301-3306
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
India is in the midst of an unprecedented phase of demographic change. Nearly 63.38% (about 760 million) of India’s 1.2 billion population is in the working age group (15-59 years of age). India’s ‘youth bulge’ can pay rich dividends only if the population can be skilled and employed. We face a daunting task to build a 700 million globally employable workforce, with 200 million university graduates and 500 million vocationally skilled people. Currently, India is ill-equipped both in terms of quality and quantity of institutions to provide skill training to this massive labor force. The vocational training market in India is very complex. The market has huge variations in customer needs across sectors, geographies and income segments. Such a market has led to a fragmented industry with several players finding their own niche. Currently we do not have any standardization process to keep checks on the training providers.

The current assessment techniques such as pen-paper based assessment, online assessment and teacher evaluation have a lot of drawbacks as an assessment tool for standardization across country as big as India. The biggest problem is all these assessment techniques cannot be scaled easily. For example, pen-paper assessment require physical presence of the examiner and the examinee at all the places to administer tests, online assessment are expensive as they require huge infrastructure to setup, teacher evaluation cannot be trusted as there will be mis-alignment of incentives, the teachers who trains the student will have bias for the students and they will want the students to do well in the standardized tests. Hence, there is a need for a cheap and scalable alternative to standardize skill training across India.

Half the population of the earth uses mobile communications. Mobile phone coverage is reaching small towns and villages. Due to economic growth and falling prices of electronics more and more people are able to buy handsets of their own.
In 2011, there were only 10.1 internet subscriptions per 100 people. Whereas, there were 72 mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 people. The cellular subscriptions are rapidly rising since the beginning of 21st century. Although, Internet is the future, voice will still dominate emerging economies for at least another decade.

Interactive voice response (IVR) technology allows computers to register and respond to DTMF tone inputs given using telephone keypad. In today's information age, IVR is used in various scenarios, from call centers which identify and segment callers based on their input to banking, entertainment and retail industry. IVR is generally used when we want to retrieve real-time information from a database for example train arrival time, order status. IVR has many advantages for low-stake assessment as compared to traditional interview methods, these advantages include self-paced instruction, scalability, reduced cost, no interviewer bias, access to hard to reach areas, standardization and confidentiality. IVR also allows access to communities which are not socially integrated into the society.

Interactive voice response (IVR) has a huge potential to be used as a low cost assessment tool in emerging markets in the areas of low-stake testing. However, the technology is being underused in this field. In this paper we describe how IVR can serve as an effective and efficient tool for low cost assessment for vocational training standardization.
Vocational training, IVR, Mobile.