Unlocking Opportunities: Freshers in Small Cities Embrace New-age Skills to Secure Jobs in 2024

A significant transformation is taking place in India’s technology sector as the global job market intensifies with heightened competition and volatility. A growing number of aspiring, young engineers from Tier 2 and 3 towns and cities are queuing up to acquire cutting-edge skills to enhance their employability and secure their first jobs for new-age skills.

Freshers in Small Cities Embrace New-age Skills

new-age skills

These engineers are pursuing in-demand new-age skills such as Generative AI, Machine Learning, data science, cloud computing, Fullstack, and EV design to respond to the changing job market. Edtech platform Great Learning has observed fresher enrolment from smaller towns like Madurai, Nagpur, Visakhapatnam, Coimbatore, Lucknow, Indore, Jodhpur, Mysuru, Guwahati and Bhubaneswar surge to 42-44% of the total in 2023 compared with 30-32% a couple of years ago.

Another edtech startup UpGrad has seen a more than 50% sequential jump in fresher enrolment from non-metros in the September quarter. The sharp increase in enrolment from the smaller towns and cities comes at a time when freshers with new-age skills are finding it tough to secure a job, especially as the IT cohort – the largest recruiter of white-collar talent – is skipping campus recruitments or taking sharp cuts in entry-level hiring, reversing from the pandemic-induced boom in hiring.

“There is a conscious effort by freshers in Tier 2 and 3 cities to acquire the latest skills to excel in a competitive job market as the selection process for entry-level talent is becoming more and more stringent in a tough job market,” said Hari Krishnan Nair, co-founder of Great Learning. “Many in the smaller towns do not have access to quality higher education infrastructure. In many cases, the college curriculum is also not up to date. This is prompting many young engineers and graduates to learn skills that could give the relevant proficiency that many employers are looking for,” said Mayank Kumar, cofounder of UpGrad.

New-age Skills

He said the job scenario in colleges is volatile and in-demand roles, especially in technology, are also changing rapidly. A lot of people are trying to bridge the delta by upskilling, he added. Youngsters, on their part, have been willing to pay between Rs 1 lakhs and 4 lakhs to upgrade themselves with the latest tech skills. The rising demand from smaller towns and cities also reflects increased access to new-age skills through remote learning, greater affordability as well as rising aspirations among young Indians with new-age skills.

“People sitting in tier 2/3 places now have the option to take a course in coding, Gen AI, or any other new age skill without having to move to cities, which was not the case even a few years ago,” said Shiv Agarwal, managing director, ABC Consultants. “The smaller towns also have a lot of disposable income and are willing to make that investment,” he added.

With many companies sharpening their focus on hiring from tier 2 and 3 towns, candidates too are prompted to reskill. Anandorup Ghose, partner, at Deloitte India, said: “Earlier many engineers in IT services companies would reskill themselves at their own expense as job-related growth was otherwise impossible in a rapidly changing tech ecosystem.”

Smaller companies, especially in the technology space, are unable to invest as much in upskilling their fresh intake.“Reskilling on their own is the only way to get a job because every company today prefers readily deployable talent,” he added.

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The current skill gap is also underscored in the number of unemployed engineers in the country. “There is still a big gap between what is being taught in many of the engineering colleges in the country and the skills needed by industry,” said Amitabh Jhingan, partner, EY-Parthenon. Upskilling programs and providers would continue to stay relevant for both first-time job seekers and career switchers and this trend is now moving into Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as well and the outlook for upskilling providers remains positive, he added.

new-age skills


The surge in enrolment from smaller cities reflects a significant shift in India’s tech landscape, with freshers keen on acquiring new-age skills to navigate the competitive job market. With the rise of remote learning and increased affordability, aspirants from Tier 2 and 3 towns are seizing opportunities to upskill and secure promising career prospects. As the demand for talent evolves, the importance of continuous learning and reskilling becomes imperative for both individuals and the industry at large.

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