By Avinash Joshi
To embrace new responsibilities driven by automation and new technologies it is estimated that by 2025, half of all employees worldwide would need to reskill or upskill. – The World Economic Forum’s research (WEF)
This serves as a timely reminder of the importance of regularly updating skill sets in a world that is changing rapidly. While it creates a compelling need for individuals to adopt a growth mindset and devote time and effort to re-skilling themselves in order to compete in the knowledge economy of the modern world. The responsibility for strategically allocating resources, making investments in learning platforms, and fostering intellectual curiosity and learning for the future of work also falls on businesses and institutions.
New job opportunities and role redundancies
As the world moves rapidly to a skills-based economy, there will be new skills that will be in greater demand, and there will be skills that are no longer relevant. Technology, itself will make many of the jobs redundant. For example, the World Economic Forum estimates that 133 million new jobs in major economies will be created to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
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As demand for talent outstrips supply, more and more employers are emphasizing the importance of skills vis-à-vis degrees. Many employers are shifting to skills-based hiring as it opens up the base to a higher number of potentially high-performing employees, who were previously not considered due to the lack of a specific degree. Skills are hence, undoubtedly, the new currency, whose value, will keep on increasing, if employees take care to sharpen and nurture the skillsets in tune with market dynamics. For example, given the fact that cloud and security related skills are in great demand, it is wise to focus on upgrading on these skillsets for a successful career.
The pandemic has transformed the workplace in ways that will never fully revert back to their earlier patters. In its recent report, McKinsey observed the rise of automation and remote working which pushed significant workforce transitions on businesses, especially roles with involving manual effort and physcial interaction. This also indicates a shift towards higher skilled roles, which is where individuals need to upskill themselves to keep pace with the shifting demands of a post-pandemic workplace.
From an organization perspective, the focus should be on initiating multiple initiatives which are focused on overall employee development going across both soft and technical skills. This could include instructor led sessions, self learning resources, experiential learning and even off-site programs. Organizations should also look beyond the traditional ways of acquiring skillsets. For example, at NTT India, we have started looking at giving opportunities to women who have taken a break in their careers and are now looking to get back into technical roles. This not only encourages diversity and inlcusivity, but also helps in building a multi-generational workforce, which is attractive to future employees.
Digital skills will also be absolutely vital to succeed, and almost every profession will require individuals to have basic digital skills. It is necessary now, and will be more necessary in the future. A report titled ‘Building Digital Skills for the Changing Workforce’ found that over the next year, the number of Indian workers requiring digital skills for their jobs is projected to increase by 27.3 million, which represents 7% of India’s workforce. The alarming fact is that only 45% of employers in India have a training plan in place, which can affect their current and future competitiveness. Thisshortfall in digital skills can prove extremely detrimental to the growth of economies at large. It is clear that digital is not a choice, and every entity – individual or corporate – has to be digitally prepared and capable.
In a fast growing economy, the best talent is in short supply. Lack of key skills required by the business can threaten the growth. Hence, companies must focus on transforming or upskilling the key skills of their employees, which not only expands their capabilities, but also enables the company to take advantage of newer business opportunities. The focus must be to improve the skillsets of all employees on a continual basis, so that every person who joins your company, must feel that he or she is learning something constantly. A bigger focus must also be on building a inclusive culture, which will help in creating a solid foundation for transforming the organization, its capabilities, and consequently its business and future.
In closing, these prescient words by Alvin Toffler, the well-known futurist, seem apt, “The illiterate of the 21st century,will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
Looking forward to hearing from you.
(The author is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at NTT India. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)