Several employees in the IT sector are opting for what is called ‘career cushioning’ to safeguard themselves against the mass layoffs in the sector, according to HR experts. Career cushioning becomes extremely helpful during uncertain times like these when layoffs are rampant. Career cushioning is essentially having an alternate safe bet to protect oneself from any unforeseen situation in one’s professional life, said Vijay Yalamanchilli, founder, Keka, an HR tech company. “The best way to do this is through upskilling, having a side hustle, and taking on challenges at the current workplace,”” he said.
Career cushioning can be in the form of a hobby outside of work that can serve as an additional source of income, Yalamanchilli explains. “You can always learn to let it progress into a full-fledged career option. Next, build skills that complement your primary field of work. If you are a product manager, having hands-on experience in designing UI/UX will help immensely. If you are a back-end developer, try being a full-stack one,” he said.
Over the past one year, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other tech companies have reportedly laid off more than 70,000 employees. HR experts believe lack of variety in one’s skillsets can be dangerous in such times and career cushioning through new skills can help. “A lot of employees or professionals lose opportunities because they have been trained in only one kind of technology or they are working with software which has not been updated. Technology now is multi-faceted and the best way for career cushioning is upskilling in different skill sets,” said Vidur Gupta, director of Spectrum Talent Management.
While there is no one IT skillset that can offer career cushioning to an employee, the key lies in continuous upskilling. “A few relevant skillsets could be data analytics, data engineering, AI, Web 3.0, metaverse, 5G, etc. In parallel to the current job role, they can take up multiple courses in newer technology in their free time. These courses help the employee to stay up-to-date with newer technologies making them job relevant,” added Gupta.
A lot of companies, particularly in the IT services sector, have collaborated with edtech companies like Great Learning to train their freshers. “These organisations prefer our pre-joining models, where we deliver about 80% of the training before the employee’s first day on the job, giving organisations job-ready talent from day zero. For their more experienced candidates, they are opting for short-duration certification programmes in the data, tech and management domains,” said Ritesh Malhotra, head, Great Learning for Business.
In 2022, Great Learning witnessed an overall 120% increase in the number of professionals upskilled compared to the previous year, taking the total number of learners to 6.6 million on its platform. “Data Science was the top domain where professionals upskilled in 2022, followed by software development, cloud, AI & ML (artificial intelligence & machine learning) and cybersecurity,” Malhotra said.
In FY23, Wipro has upskilled over 45,000 employees on digital technologies such as big data, advanced analytics, cloud, mobility and usability, digital security and DevOps.At Infosys, employees are reskilled in new technologies on Lex, a learning platform developed by the company. Lex, available as a mobile application, has internal content from Infosys as well specialised third-party content.
In 2020, Tech Mahindra developed an AI-based upskilling-as-a-service (UaaS) platform to help employees learn new skills in 5G, internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), among others.