Reskill or remain by the wayside is the new buzz among the lakhs of employees of the $150-billion-plus Indian information technology (IT) industry who are confronted with new types of technologies which are slowly making the old ways of doing things redundant. The advent of the digital world is definitely changing the way technology is being applied across various domains and this requires different kind of skillset. This requires the employees to reskill themselves on new technologies so that they remain in the reckoning. Indian IT companies have also initiated various efforts to reskill their employees and this is primarily to keep them ready for the next wave of businesses which will emerge from the digital domain.
However, many of these employees have also started taking courses from various online education providers on their own in their goal to reskill themselves. Says Kashyap Dalal, chief business officer, Simplilearn, on the demand scenario for their courses, “At Simplilearn, we have seen over 50% growth in learners opting for courses in Big Data, cloud, data science, Agile-Scrum, DevOps and cyber security over the last four months. We expect this to accelerate further in the coming months as it is becoming more important than ever for IT professionals to be skilled in the right digital domains to remain employable.”
Considering the fact that many of the older kind of jobs may not remain relevant with the advent of automation, employees realise that career progression depends on learning new skills. A survey done by Pluralsight, a technology learning platform said, 97% of IT professionals believe in the importance of building one’s technology skills and 74% of them have undergone learning programmes in 2016.
“With reskilling being a critical need for Indian IT to prepare for a digital-led future, it is important to understand how today’s technology professionals learn and how learning can be made interesting for them,” says Arun Rajamani, country GM at Pluralsight India. “Learning styles have changed over time and are becoming online, personalised and byte-sized. Online learning will play a key role in helping the IT industry reduce the skills gap by helping them assess their skills, find or build the right learning paths, get instant expert help and apply learning interactive labs.”
Today, the focus is on skill sets which revolve around the technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, Big Data, though niche for now but very much in demand. “We have seen a steady increase in demand for courses in newer digital technologies such as data science, AWS Cloud, Azure, DevOps, and Agile-Scrum among others. We have witnessed substantial growth over the last three months in categories such as DevOps (109 %), cloud (70%), Big Data and data science at 60 % and 45 % respectively,” says Dalal.
As demand pick ups for employees to reskills themselves, there has also been a change in the methodology on how this learning is delivered. For example, Infosys, India’s second largest IT services exporter, has brought about a change in the training programme it provides for its employees. Richard Lobo, executive vice president, head HR – Infosys, said, “Today it is much more agile, flexible and we are training people in more than one technology. We are also investing in people who have deep programming knowledge or specialised skills like artificial intelligence, machine learning or people who can handle large and complex programmes.”
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According to Lobo, the single biggest change in training for Infosys has been that it is more closely connected to business demands. “We are also teaching people the skills of today like innovation and design thinking. Reskilling has become important and people now realise they have to remain relevant,” he adds.
As learning becomes the key driver for both IT professionals and companies to keep themselves relevant in a fast paced world of technology changes, it is imperative that the mode of teaching also becomes exciting with concepts like gamification. The survey by Pluralsight said that gamified learning is associated with improved employee engagement and is seen as an innovative approach to learning using application of gaming elements.
“Learning must also be made interesting. It is exciting to see the rise of gamification in learning in India. Gamification brings in the three elements of progression, pride and play into learning and promotes a socially inclusive culture,” says Rajamani.