Staying relevant: Reskilling workforce for AI, ML, IoT, era must for MSMEs, startups to survive, scale

Published: July 15, 2020 12:41 PM

Technology for MSMEs: Pandemic induced lockdown and the consequent social distancing have given a chance for online learning to showcase its effectiveness as a primary learning model, rather than as a supplement to traditional classroom training methodology.

The entire COVID crisis has proven a catalyst for reskilling.
  • By Ravi Kaklasaria 

Technology for MSMEs: At the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, all companies were forced to make quick changes and decisions to ensure their business continuity. While large and mid-size corporations had the means and resources to drive these changes, the start-ups and SMEs with their limited resources and budget faced severe hardships, especially because of the cost-cutting measures they had to employ, like letting go of the majority of their workforce. In this scenario, the only way forward for them is through reskilling and upskilling their current employees to create a leaner and agile team that will be able to perform multiple functions. 

Why Reskilling 

The importance of reskilling has been pronounced by industry reports for years. A 2018 report by the World Economic Forum had revealed that by 2022, 54 per cent of all employees will require reskilling and upskilling significantly. Also, most learning and development professionals today reiterate that the widening skill gaps in their organization, if left unaddressed, will negatively impact their organization’s future growth, ability to innovate,  ability to ensure customer satisfaction and experience, and deliver superior product service and quality. 

Additionally, there is a growing body of research that pinpoints the importance of training programs on employee engagement and retention with the organization. It has been found that when an organisation displays its willingness to invest in an employee, it reinforces the latter’s feeling of importance to the organisation’s goals.

Technology Adoption in Reskilling

The entire COVID crisis has proven a catalyst for reskilling. The chief among the changes that were unleashed by the pandemic was the quick acceptance of the digital mandate that has been hovering since a couple of years; though digitization was much talked about, it was ironically the crisis that accelerated it’s integration in society. With companies forced to go online because of social distancing measures, social-collaboration tools were the first instance of tech aided solutions that mushroomed. The rise and fall of Zoom and the increased use of Slack were some notable trends that we saw. 

Additionally, the pandemic has also resulted in an increased interest in the adoption of emerging technologies such as Robotic Process Automation(RPA), & Artificial Intelligence (AI) as companies have started preparing themselves for the seeming much more digitized post-pandemic era. 

As organizations, especially start-ups and SMEs continue to operate with limited staff, they are preferring to upskill and reskill their employees in the aforementioned digital technologies rather than hiring new skilled employees. This is primarily because the pandemic has forced them to create cross-functional teams, and hiring new employees will serve as an additional cost to the company in terms of time and resources.

Paradigm Shift in Learning

Pandemic induced lockdown and the consequent social distancing have given a chance for online learning to showcase its effectiveness as a primary learning model, rather than as a supplement to traditional classroom training methodology. Though virtual learning was nothing new, as MOOCS have been around for a while now, its forced acceptance during the pandemic situation has caused a major paradigm shift in the landscape of learning. 

Today, we can see that digital learning platforms like LnDCloud, Pluralsight, Udacity, and Coursera have become popular with start-ups and SMEs to facilitate their employees learning.  This is primarily because they come with a whole lot of learner-centric features such as real-time feedback, a high level of customization and hands-on learning with cloud labs that guarantee high learner engagement. Also, learning platforms offer a range of different learning models and approaches for users to choose from.

When it comes to employee training in emerging technologies and digital skills, there’s no question that outsourcing the training programs to leading training providers is the way to go. The main reason is that they have partnerships with several global certification providers such as EC-Council, RedHat, IBM, Microsoft, and many others. This enables them to provide industry-relevant and world-class enterprise enablement training programs in areas such as AI, machine learning, DevOps, internet of things, big data & Analytics, cloud computing, and cloud security to name a few.

Also, external training vendors are much more attuned to the latest learning models. Most of them today offer hybrid delivery models with flexible modes of learning and e-learning content. They also tailor their learning offerings to the needs of learners, like bite-sized content for mobile learners, graphics and charts for visual learners, audio files for auditory learners and the like. Moreover, the technology, the material, and the content they use for training are well-updated and flexible as compared to in house training methodology.

Reskilling and upskilling has attained new importance, particularly for start-ups & SMEs in this new economy. They will take longer to recuperate from the present crisis, so their experiments with different formats of virtual learning will continue as they seek to upskill and reskill their employees to fill up the voids that are brought on by innovations in technology.

Ravi Kaklasaria is the CEO & Founder of SpringPeople. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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