The right way to skill the world | The Financial Express

The right way to skill the world

G20 countries have to pivot from being talent takers to talent makers

G20, India
Rapid digitalisation facilitated remote work and new technologies secured productivity.

With India having taken over the presidency of the G20, it’s an opportunity to reshape the global economic governance agenda. Among other things, an area that needs priority is the future of work and associated skilling. The remote work experiment began in March 2020 when Covid-19 struck. Rapid digitalisation facilitated remote work and new technologies secured productivity. As people return to the workplace, we are seeing hybrid meeting environments, improvements in asynchronous collaboration, novel applications to sustain interpersonal connections, and the use of VR and AR.

New kinds of jobs have emerged, and consequently new skills—such as digital technology (AI and big data analytics, IoT, cloud computing, cybersecurity, RPA, blockchain, AR/VR, 3D printing), design thinking, critical and metacognitive thinking, communication, and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility—have become critical.

New communication channels, digital platforms and social networks have led to the growth of gig work, throwing the longevity of the traditional employment model into question.While all these changes were happening prior to 2020 also, the pandemic accentuated the shift. Amid decelerating labour force growth, abundant capital, and the growing importance of intangible assets like intellectual property and customer networks, the balance of power has shifted from capital to talent. Today, the workforce is a firm’s most precious resource and business leaders are aware that they need to change the way they think about their workforce to stay ahead of the technological and sociological changes.

Workforce transformation

The future workforce needs to be readied at three different levels:—First, skills have to become the new business and organisational imperative. Even as in-demand skills are changing, skill gaps are becoming wide. Assessing skill gaps, developing a skills strategy and delivering skills transformation at scale must become urgent priorities for companies.Industry-wide skill development programmes (such as MeitY-Nasscom led FutureSkills Prime) need to be promoted to democratise learning.—Second, supporting continuous education and research aspirations of employees is important. In this context, the New Education Policy 2020 ticks all the right boxes. It is bold, forward-looking and transformational, and aims to make higher education more holistic, flexible, multidisciplinary and well-suited to the needs of the future workforce. It is also reimagining vocational education.

These aspirations are in line with the OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 project, which states: “We need to replace old education standards with an educational framework that combines knowledge with the 21st century skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.”—Third, strike a balance between skill requirements across projects, geographies and countries to ensure seamless mobility of skilled workforce. This calls for evolving a framework where both employees and employers deposit a part of their earnings into a universal social security system, which can be leveraged for workforce mobility.For businesses in G20 countries to stay ahead of the game, they have to pivot from being talent takers to talent makers. This requires scaling investments in learning, thinking laterally about career journeys and cultivating a growth mindset.

The author is founder chairman, Cyient, and chairman, CII National Education Council

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First published on: 06-02-2023 at 03:15 IST