Skills gap that plagued the job market has further widened and poses a major challenge: Deepa Param Singhal, Oracle Asia Pacific

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Updated: July 01, 2021 2:14 PM

Approximately 70% of the surveyed organizations shared that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is fall in productivity. Organizations are embracing new ways of working with no other choice left.

job marketThe skills gap that plagued the job market has further widened and poses a major challenge for both employers and employees.

Performance plays a pivotal role in taking an organisation forward, yet most businesses today have a very weak system of reviewing employee’s performance and productivity. As per EY’s survey, there is a fall in productivity amid lockdown and Covid-19 crisis was identified as a major concern by most companies. Approximately 70% of the surveyed organizations shared that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is fall in productivity. Organizations are embracing new ways of working with no other choice left. There are still many challenges around productivity. They are realising that the old way of doing performance management will no longer work. But how exactly can HR leaders make performance management and productivity more useful for their people this year and, in the years, to come? In an exclusive interview with Financial Express Online Deepa Param Singhal, Vice President, HCM, Oracle Asia Pacific talked about ‘Rethinking people, performance, and productivity for post pandemic successes’. Excerpts:

Organizations and employees across the world are adapting to newer ways of working amidst global uncertainties and challenges. How important is talent management in the process of imagining employee experience and business growth?

In the Covid-19 era, HR leaders are striving to build organizational resilience and foster value. The pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing talent management trends in the HR playbook and compelled CHROs to reinvent the way talent has been managed traditionally. Post pandemic era presses on the importance of not just finding and hiring the right talent but investing in learning and optimizing workforce strategy.

The skills gap that plagued the job market has further widened and poses a major challenge for both employers and employees. This gap points to the divergence between the skills that employers need and the skills that job seekers possess, making it difficult for organizations and talent to work seamlessly. Surge in demand for skills in technologies like AI, ML, Data analytics has led to a shortage of skilled workforce proficient in IT. According to a recent survey done by Coursera, while Indians are good in areas like ML and mathematics, they still trail behind in data skills. In just 2020, over 5.7 million people enrolled on the platform and despite that, India continues to experience a digital skills gap. Evidently, the speed of digital transformation is trumping the speed of skills transformation. With this, HR leaders have a crucial role in tackling the issue by helping its workforce reskill and upskill within the organizational realm. They must ensure that their company has the right mix of required skills. Having a grasp of skills will help talent mobility, development and planning needed to adapt to rising needs. Perfecting your skill strategies will be key for the future and with AI powered skills engine and ML techniques, HR professionals can maintain an accurate record of skills data, which will constantly be updated to deliver actionable insights for employees, managers, and HR leaders.

The new norm of the workplace is not just an operational challenge but also a human challenge. How are HR leaders handling this knowing people are the biggest asset for an organisation?

The sudden shift in work culture due to the pandemic has brought new challenges for HR leaders. The biggest obstacle for many organizations on the operational side is delivering a personalized and seamless employee experience for their workforce, despite location on the people management side. With so many people working remotely, and many organizations now offering hybrid workforce opportunities as they return to offices, it will be critical for the HR leaders to ensure a consistent and collaborative experience for both remote workers and those back at in-office settings.

To tackle this challenge, organizations are realizing the need to invest in new solutions to create better employee experiences. Our Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) solution, for instance, assists both employers and employees by providing the technology to support evolving employee expectations and help HR navigate continuously changing demands. One of our most recent innovations within Oracle Cloud HCM is Oracle Journeys, which helps HR leaders create, design, and deliver personalized experiences for any employee task – from promotions to paternity leave. This type of personalized approach to the employee experience will help organizations ensure they are supporting their entire workforce in the most effective way, despite geography or workplace settings.

What should HR leaders do to make the performance of employees from reskilling and productivity PoV more impactful in 2021? And the role of technology in creating this impact?

The global pandemic has pushed most of the organizations to experience unpredictable business priorities. And focus has been shifted to reskill and upskill the existing workforce and all this is possible with intervention of new-age technologies. Changing technologies and now Covid 19 pandemic have disrupted jobs and the skills employees need for them. While employers understand the need to identify and signal the skills they require, as well as develop mechanisms to recruit, train, and retain employees, potential employees also want to upskill and look to their organizations to help them do so. Indian employees understand the importance of professional development better than their global peers. According to the Global Skills Gap Report by learning platform Udemy, 92% Indians believe that there is a skill gap and two thirds of them have been impacted by it. In such a scenario, companies then need to invest in honing the intellectual skills of its workforce by effecting tailored learning journeys augmented by digital tools, that re-create the best possible version of physical learning. HR leaders are expected to focus more on the power of AI/ML and analytical capabilities to get meaningful insights around trends on the performance management side which will affect retention of employees. While knowledge of AI, ML and robotics would be important, organizations would also be on the lookout for talent that is ready to upskill further as it’s the most efficient way to leverage the key talent in a post Covid reality.

What should be the roadmap and future of HR leaders especially in terms of employee skills evaluation in 2021?

With the pandemic upending work across the globe, business environments have transformed at an unprecedented speed. As a result, it has compelled human resources (HR) to develop new capabilities to remain relevant in the current times. While basic HR capabilities are important, they are just the bare minimum. In 2021, HR leaders are expected to enable the workforce and keep a tab of their skills in order to optimise them and help them grow further. It used to be challenging to do so with traditional repositories, but they now have technologies such AI, ML and IoT with cloud as their foundation to run smart devices at their disposal to do the job.

The roadmap to the future in terms of employee skills evaluation is two pronged— One, which entails bridging skills gap in leaders and two, closing skills gap in employees. The biggest leadership skill gap lies in adapting to the use of new technology. Digital savviness and the need for agility, will be required from leaders in the future. In a study done by MIT study, 82% believe that leaders in the new economy will need to be digitally sound. Therefore, HR leaders in order to respond to these demands need to empathize with their leaders and give them the right digital tools and training to thrive in a new digital economy.

With so much disruption happening in the workplace, how is Oracle HCM Cloud making a headway to empower CHROs and support the unavoidable shifts? Is Oracle relooking at their HCM portfolio to address the changing requirements of HR in the new normal?

Technology plays a crucial role in addressing the pressing needs of an organisation and simultaneously looking for a way out to evolve within the existing scheme of things. To emerge in the most difficult phase, businesses should concentrate on reskilling their existing workforce and making themselves strong. Oracle as a strategic partner to CHROs is helping them sail through in this new normal when comes to bridging the skill gap. We have recently launched Oracle Dynamic Skills solution , part of Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM), which allows CHROs to identify skill gap and foster the culture of career development for employees. With Dynamic Skills, decision makers can get insights needed to ensure they have the right talent both now and in the future by providing a comprehensive view of the skills within their workforce. Cloud-based offerings like Oracle Dynamic Skills are helping HR personnel. The solution maintains an always-accurate record of skills data within the organization, including job titles, employee capabilities, experience, and strength of skills. The solution comprises of three broad categories i.e. Skills Nexus, Skills Connector and Skills Center. With Dynamic Skills, HR professionals, and individuals can manage skills, thereby allowing HR managers to develop and retain the key talent of the organization more effectively.

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