There is a lack of digital skills amongst the workforce of today. As per the World Economic Forum, about 55% of employees are likely to need significant reskilling by 2022.
By Pravin Daryani
The advent of disruptive technologies such as AI and Big Data is bringing about a significant transformation in the way organisations function. Businesses in the SME sector, in particular, greatly depend on digital channels and tools to enhance their operations. This is because it gives them a platform to gain wider exposure and reach, helping them compete even with larger enterprises without having to invest large amounts of money. But there is a lack of digital skills amongst the workforce of today. As per the World Economic Forum, about 55% of employees are likely to need significant reskilling by 2022.
The current scenario: According to a report by Omidyar Network and BCG, there are 55-60 million MSMEs in India, employing more than 111 million people. At a time where the demand for new skills is rising, creating a talent pool with the ability to adapt to and harness advanced technologies is the need of the hour. So, SMEs need to up-skill and re-skill their employees to equip them for the future requirements of their jobs. By implementing new processes, these companies will also be able to streamline operations to optimise output, thus enabling them to significantly cut down operational costs.
Audit skills to address the need-gap: Although the SME sector is ridden with challenges pertaining to infrastructure and funds, tapping into the digital wave may prove to be a one-stop solution. For this, they will have to start by equipping employees with the right skillsets. The government is taking steps towards facilitating digital literacy amongst SMEs with initiatives such as Digital India and Skill India to train their manpower. However, to make the most of such initiatives, these businesses must first address employee skill-gaps pertaining to the company by conducting internal audits at the workplace. This will help companies determine the extent to which business operations and functions need to be revamped, and skill development/recruitment programmes can be designed accordingly.
Top-down implementation: It is important that such decisions come from the leadership, as well as policymaking bodies such as HR teams so that the desired changes are effectively implemented across all levels in the company. Also, SMEs need to strategise the roll out of new processes, in a way that employees are prepared for the changes to come. One strategy is to roll out small changes smartly but gradually, thus introducing employees to new skills and processes before a complete revamp takes place.
Employee development: It is a key factor in facilitating businesses to make the transition to operations fit for the digital revolution of today. By building a strong workforce, equipped with the right skills and mind-set, businesses in the SME sector can leverage new technologies to boost productivity and innovation. This, in turn, will have a significant impact on the bottom line of these businesses, enabling sustainable growth.
The author is CMD, A&A Business Consulting Pvt Ltd