With many businesses transitioning into the digital space, the demand for new technical skills has accelerated across industries. But are we able to keep up with the pace of these changes? The answer seems to tilt towards the negative, a fact established by a World Economic Forum (WEF) report that stated that over 50% of workers in India would soon require massive reskilling to meet the talent demands of the future.
Speaking at Rising 2019, Global Service Delivery Head, Analytics at Wipro Sohini Mehta expounded on the importance of reskilling in the current job scenario and how one can achieve that. Building on this, she also delves into the latest trends in businesses across industries and how organisations are managing talent deficient.
To Reskill Or Not
Mehta begins by recounting how she, like most people in the packed auditorium, took the help of Google Maps to manage her time and understand the way to the venue. Further emphasising on how dependent we have become on data and analytics to get by our days, she added that search engines also use data science to run algorithms in the background in order to throw up relevant results for its users. “In fact, Google itself uses more than 20 petabytes of data everyday,” she added, indicating that it will not be what it is today without data science.
This segways into two interesting examples. First is the highly anticipated duel between IBM’s Project Debate and one of the best-ranked debaters in the world, and the second is Google Duplex, an AI application that mimics humans and makes it possible for users to book appointments. Both these examples not only highlights the potential of new technologies but also the importance of research advanced by these companies in creating new capabilities.
It also puts a spotlight on the need for new skills in the job market.
According to a Mckinsey study, about 375 million people – that is, 14% of the global workforce – will need to change their skill sets in the next ten years in order to stay relevant. In conjunction with this is the latent fear that AI is out to usurp jobs, making existing jobs redundant.
Concurrently, there are some studies that claim that more jobs will soon be created that will offset the ones lost to AI.
All this points to the fact that jobs are changing and we must prepare for that through reskilling.
How To Reskill
All this talk around data, analytics and AI have piqued the interest of people who want to pursue careers in these fields. But there is a popular misconception that only people with a strong background in technology are qualified to take advantage of these new business demands. That is not true.
Depending on what field one chooses, they essentially need to learn the skills to solve problems. For that, it is just as important to understand the business, be curious, and be passionate about data. They also need to be good storytellers to filter out meaningful insights from data and pick up on trends when proposing their findings.
Thus, there are various roles that funnel into data science projects. And this is just one piece of the overall opportunities in new technology. It also includes business analysts, data engineers, visualisation experts, and project managers, all which come with their own set of specialised skills. Given this, the biggest challenge would be to cultivate the discipline to reskill and make learning a part of daily life.
For more highlights from Rising 2019, check this out.
How Companies Can Build Capability In Their Organisations
The key question all businesses at some point must answer is – do we hire new talent, or reskill existing workforce? While hiring may sound simple, the truth is that there is a huge scarcity of talent in the market. Moreover, when a new person is onboarded, they may not scale up to the company’s expectations, or imbibe its culture.
Alternatively, developing existing talent seems more under an organisation’s control. Not only does it help build a talent pipeline but also improves employee stickiness to a great extent. Hence, it may be in the interest of companies to build talent internally and reskill existing employees.
How can this be done in the most effective and efficient way?
Companies need to inculcate a culture of learning in their organisations. Some of the commonly used methods include instructor-led classroom training, coaching, and onboarding programs. Taking the example of Wipro, it has taken a 360-degree comprehensive learning framework to train its workforce across different roles. This integrated, immersive learning experience is not only online – making it easily accessible – but also offers classes on a cluster of skills. And this is just one among the many approaches.
Although opportunities are abundant when it comes to reskilling the workforce, so are challenges. This can include budgetary restrictions, inadequate management support and organisational barriers. While it may be organisations’ duty to give the required training to reskill its workforce, it is not the only way.
The onus is on people to be motivated for their own self-growth, identify new opportunities of learning, and understand how they can be relevant in the industry. The ability to learn continuously will go a long way in their personal growth story. One way of doing this may be by setting targets and investing time in self-learning to take a leap into the unknown.
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Anu is a writer who stews in existential angst and actively seeks what’s broken. Lover of avant-garde films and BoJack Horseman fan theories, she has previously worked for Economic Times. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org