Up­skilling Work­force For The Dig­i­tal Age

Up­skilling the work­force to be dig­i­tally lit­er­ate is cru­cial for or­ga­ni­za­tions to keep pace with new tech­nolo­gies dis­rupt­ing busi­nesses across in­dus­tries

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In this fast-chang­ing world of tech­nol­ogy, a mas­sive on­rush to­wards ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, au­to­ma­tion, as well as mul­ti­ple dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tives are bring­ing a big shift to the world of work, with con­sid­er­able im­pli­ca­tions for work­force skills.

Re­ports sug­gest that about half of all work ac­tiv­i­ties glob­ally have the tech­ni­cal po­ten­tial to be au­to­mated by adapt­ing cur­rently demon­strated tech­nolo­gies. While some skills are likely to be­come re­dun­dant faster than you would have prob­a­bly thought, and some new skills will rise in de­mand. Deal­ing with such tran­si­tions are cer­tainly not go­ing to be a cake­walk for busi­nesses. They need to in­vest heav­ily in ei­ther hir­ing new tal­ents or up­skilling the work­force.

TECH SKILLS IN DE­MAND Uti­liz­ing cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy to drive pro­duc­tiv­ity, in­crease ef­fi­ciency, and spur in­no­va­tion is the num­ber one busi­ness im­per­a­tive for cor­po­ra­tions around the world.

As a re­sult, the or­ga­ni­za­tions are not only see­ing an emer­gence of new job roles, sub­ject mat­ter ex­perts as well as a set of hy­brid pro­fes­sion­als around cy­ber­se­cu­rity,

mo­bile app de­vel­op­ment, UI/UX, Big Data an­a­lyt­ics, cloud, In­ter­net of Things, au­to­ma­tion, ro­bot­ics process au­to­ma­tion, Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence/ma­chine learn­ing/ Nat­u­ral Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing, Aug­mented Real­ity/ Vir­tual Real­ity, etc.

Up­skilling in ma­chine learn­ing and AI is a great op­por­tu­nity to be ready for growth that the AI wave will bring. Up­skilling in ar­eas like Big Data, Data An­a­lyt­ics, Data Min­ing, Data Sci­ence, Plat­form En­gi­neer­ing, Cloud, Dis­trib­uted Com­put­ing, Ag­ile, DevOps, Cy­ber­se­cu­rity, Test­ing Au­to­ma­tion is also in de­mand.

UP­SKILLING VS. HIR­ING TAL­ENTS

Hir­ing new tal­ents is of­ten the first thought when com­pa­nies think of ac­quir­ing new tech­nol­ogy skills for their teams. In­di­vid­u­als also want to work for or­ga­ni­za­tions who are lead­ers in the dig­i­tal space, and they ex­pect their or­ga­ni­za­tion to pre­pare them for the new roles.

Now the ques­tion is be­tween hir­ing tal­ents and up­skilling- what is more eco­nom­i­cal and vi­able in the long run?

A re­search by So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­sources Man­age­ment says that com­pa­nies spend al­most 6-9 months of an em­ployee’s salary try­ing to hire skills from out­side of the com­pany. This comes with sep­a­rate ta­lent on­board­ing costs, re­quires ad­di­tional time, cul­tural im­pact among oth­ers. Be­sides, the de­mand for dig­i­tally savvy ta­lent is quite high and hence can be tough to find.

In that sce­nario, up­skilling the ex­ist­ing work­force makes

THE SKILL GAP HAS MADE PRO­FES­SION­ALS AND EN­TER­PRISES HIGHLY VUL­NER­A­BLE. UP­SKILLING IS THE ONLY WAY OUT AND IN­DIAN COM­PA­NIES ARE IN FACT ACT­ING VERY FAST ON EN­SUR­ING THEIR EM­PLOY­EES ARE BE­ING SKILLED ACROSS NEWER TECH­NOLO­GIES

—Kr­ishna Ku­mar Founder and CEO of Sim­plilearn

sense and is also the eco­nom­i­cally ef­fi­cient op­tion in the long run and it con­trib­utes to em­ployee re­ten­tion and im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“The skill gap has made pro­fes­sion­als and en­ter­prises highly vul­ner­a­ble. Up­skilling is the only way out and In­dian com­pa­nies are in fact act­ing very fast on en­sur­ing their em­ploy­ees are be­ing skilled across newer tech­nolo­gies. Com­pa­nies are part­ner­ing with train­ing com­pa­nies like us to de­velop and de­liver on­line train­ing for their em­ploy­ees,” said Kr­ishna Ku­mar, founder and CEO of Sim­plilearn.

But it should also be kept in mind that all em­ploy­ees are not equally com­fort­able with reskilling and up­skilling pro­grams. Or­ga­ni­za­tions, there­fore also need to iden­tify which em­ploy­ees it should in­vest time and money on.

Sun­dar Subra­ma­nian, Pres­i­dent – Global De­liv­ery, Mpha­sis, how­ever, feels or­ga­ni­za­tions need to main­tain a fine bal­ance be­tween hir­ing and up­skilling. Multi-skilling the em­ploy­ees at dif­fer­ent lev­els also go a long way.

“Hir­ing fresh ta­lent and train­ing them is eas­ier as they pick up new skills very quickly. while, ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sion­als and em­ploy­ees, on the other hand, have the do­main knowl­edge and have a fair un­der­stand­ing of the cus­tomers’ needs. There are of­ten a lot of un­stated re­quire­ments from cus­tomers in terms of de­liv­ery and meet­ing SLAs, which new tal­ents might not even know. They are more so­lu­tion-ori­ented as well, ” said he.

DIG­I­TAL UP­SKILLING

“Ef­fec­tive up­skilling re­quires a bal­ance of tech­ni­cal and soft skills for or­ga­ni­za­tions to nur­ture the ta­lent they need

EF­FEC­TIVE UP­SKILLING RE­QUIRES A BAL­ANCE OF TECH­NI­CAL AND SOFT SKILLS FOR OR­GA­NI­ZA­TIONS TO NUR­TURE THE TA­LENT THEY NEED FOR OPEN JOBS

—Vi­nayPrad­han Coun­try Man­ager-In­dia, Skill­soft

OR­GA­NI­ZA­TIONS NEED TO MAIN­TAIN A FINE BAL­ANCE BE­TWEEN HIR­ING AND UP­SKILLING. MULTI-SKILLING THE EM­PLOY­EES AT DIF­FER­ENT LEV­ELS ALSO GO A LONG WAY

—Sun­dar Subra­ma­nian Pres­i­dent – Global De­liv­ery, Mpha­sis

for open jobs,” said Vi­nayPrad­han, Coun­try Man­agerIn­dia, Skill­soft.

“There was a time when on­line cour­ses were con­sid­ered in­fe­rior to tra­di­tional learn­ing pro­grams. But in to­day’s world of chang­ing busi­ness dy­nam­ics and tech­nol­ogy evo­lu­tions, dig­i­tal up­skilling has in­deed taken the front seat. As com­pa­nies ex­pect their em­ploy­ees to be more aligned to the lat­est skills, the de­mand for on­line train­ing has shot up to a great ex­tent. Flex­i­bil­ity, blended mode of de­liv­ery, in­ter­ac­tiv­ity, and abil­ity to ap­ply the skills on the job have led on­line learn­ing take over reg­u­lar train­ing with ease,” said Ku­mar.

The learn­ing con­tent needs to be de­signed and up­dated by sub­ject mat­ter ex­perts and in­dus­try lead­ers and also needs to be sup­ple­mented with ap­plied learn­ing projects and real-world case stud­ies, with hands-on prac­tice.

The de­liv­ery must com­bine self-paced on­line con­tent as well as in­struc­tor-led live vir­tual class­rooms.

The progress of up­skilling ini­tia­tives can be en­sured with pre- and post-course as­sess­ments and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions.

“I do be­lieve the adop­tion of new tech­nolo­gies in the In­dian IT sec­tor is not fast enough, given that In­dia is one of the largest job cre­ators in the global tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try. There are so many ca­reer spe­cial­iza­tions for which we don’t have the nec­es­sary ed­u­ca­tional in­fra­struc­ture in In­dia, and On­line Learn­ing cour­ses fill the gap. There are peo­ple who enor­mously ben­e­fit from spe­cialty tech­nolo­gies such as Blockchain, and whose lives and ca­reer paths change be­cause of them. On the whole, the tech­nol­ogy ecosys­tem needs to push for a more holis­tic ap­proach to work­force up­skilling to keep up with the mar­ket,” said RuchiBhalla, Vice Pres­i­dent, Hu­man Re­sources, Pit­ney Bowes Inc.

UP­SKILLING: AN ON­GO­ING PROCESS

“Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tives in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy into all ar­eas of the busi­ness to ef­fec­tively keep up in to­day’s ever-chang­ing dig­i­tal econ­omy. Hence, it’s im­por­tant for or­ga­ni­za­tions as well as em­ploy­ees to un­der­stand that up­skilling is not a one time process- but rather an on­go­ing com­mit­ment and re­quire­ment in to­day’s rapidly evolv­ing dig­i­tal world,” said Prad­han.

And it’s not just the in­di­vid­u­als in the IT func­tion in the or­ga­ni­za­tion who have to be dig­i­tal-ready; in fact, it’s even more crit­i­cal the lead­ers at all lev­els to pos­sess the com­pe­ten­cies needed to har­ness and drive dig­i­tal agenda.

There is a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion in a coun­try like In­dia, and that is pos­si­ble only if the work­force can be up­skilled to live up to the chal­lenge. Hence, or­ga­ni­za­tions need to in­crease their in­vest­ments in em­ployee train­ing and up­skilling at all lev­els of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

I DO BE­LIEVE THE ADOP­TION OF NEW TECH­NOLO­GIES IN THE IN­DIAN IT SEC­TOR IS NOT FAST ENOUGH, GIVEN THAT IN­DIA IS ONE OF THE LARGEST JOB CRE­ATORS IN THE GLOBAL TECH­NOL­OGY IN­DUS­TRY. THERE ARE SO MANY CA­REER SPE­CIAL­IZA­TIONS FOR WHICH WE DON’T HAVE THE NEC­ES­SARY ED­U­CA­TIONAL IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE IN IN­DIA, AND ON­LINE LEARN­ING COUR­SES FILL THE GAP

— Ruchi Bhalla Vice Pres­i­dent, Hu­man Re­sources, Pit­ney Bowes Inc.

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