Upskilling Vs Onboarding: What Do Companies Prefer For Data Science Roles?

With technologies seeing newer dawn in Indian businesses, more companies are looking to adopt disruptive technologies such as analytics, data science, artificial intelligence in their working. To enable this, companies will have to look for a workforce that is skilled enough to adopt these tech innovations and bring newer competencies in the market.

This is where the need to reskill or replace comes into the picture. We have seen in the past how companies such as Cognizant and many other tech companies have laid off employees who were not able to keep up with the changing technologies and failed to upskill themselves in this highly tech-driven time. The world is changing at a fast pace and companies need to alter the ways they work by incorporating technology in their processes.

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We have published numerous studies and reports in the past which suggests that there are a lot of job openings in data science and AI field that currently needs to be filled up, which clearly indicates towards unavailability of talent that can be addressed either by reskilling or making new hirings.

But what do companies usually prefer — reskilling or hiring? Let us find out.

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Reskilling Has Become A Go-to Game For Companies

Most companies and business leaders are posed with the question of how to build capabilities in an organisation so that they can ride the wave of digital transformation. Companies are desperately looking for people with skillsets that meets the need of the growing technological demands and many companies face the question of whether to invest in hiring or reskilling.

In a recent talk by Sohini Mehta of Wipro, she put out simple yet effective points on why reskilling will be always better than hiring new people. “Hiring my sound very simple but the fact is that there is a huge scarcity of talent in the market and getting people may come at a very high price point,” she said.

There are other factors such as investing a lot of time in the new hire to familiarise with the company culture, meeting the company’s expectations, making them learn the workflow and processes from the scratch, apart from many other challenges.

Mehta, therefore, believes that reskilling can be the best option. “Reskilling existing workforce in the company not only builds the talent pipeline but helps in improving employee stickiness to a great extent as you would have loyal people who will stay with you and work with you for longer,” she says.

It may, therefore, be always in the interest of the company to build talent internally and provide a 360-degree complete learning framework that trains an employee across different roles. Providing an integrated and immersive experience to the employees can boost up their skills while benefitting companies in the longer run.

While talking about reskilling, Mehta also focuses on the fact that companies should focus on not just training a single skill but a cluster of skills that will be relevant for longer years. Some of the skills that are currently picking up are automation, RPA, robotics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, IoT, connected devices, fintech, data analytics, machine learning, blockchain and many more.

While many prefer reskilling over hiring, there are others with a mix point of view. Nikhil Barshikar, founder and MD of Imarticus Learning says, “Advantage of employee retention is that their work experience gets complimented once their reskilling training is completed. But at the same time, one should also continue recruiting new employees with skills and knowledge in AI, Data Analytics, etc. as they bring a fresh perspective and set of skills that will help the company grow even further.”

Companies That Are Taking Reskilling Employees Seriously

Many tech companies today are introducing online courses and sessions that enables employees to learn new skills in a self-paced learning environment. Some of the steps that companies are taking are build training systems and portals, invest in introducing newer capabilities in the company that enables more employee engagement and increases value in the long run. The old models of learning have become obsolete and companies need to develop newer models for reskilling and introduce a learning-centric approach, creating a personalised learning experience.

Ashutosh Dabral, Co-founder and CEO, Hush says that companies should upskill existing talent who have showcased a potential to learn new things and also onboard fresh talent from time to time. “A company should also support employees efforts through subsidy/reimbursement of these courses,” he says.

For instance, Wipro has something called the School of Decision Sciences which is essentially a data science transformation and tech-stack enabled programme which lets an employee train on a variety of skills. The programme is 6-months long and has seen a lot of interest coming from the employees not only from analytics domain but also from other domains to re-skill themselves. The course essentially comprises lessons on data, how to handle data, algorithms, modelling, visualisation, storytelling and industry use cases.  

Tech Mahindra has also taken initiatives in reskilling a majority of its IT workforce in digital and future skills such as blockchain, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and automation, and 5G. It has partnered with FutureSkills to drive upskilling in key digital future-skilling initiatives.

Visweswara Rao, Senior Vice President and Chief HR Officer at CSS Corp, told AIM, “Many organizations today are looking at a mix of internal and external talent that can be groomed for emerging roles. We run a digital career progression platform called ‘Reimagine’ which fast-tracks employee learning in AI, cloud, analytics, robotic process automation, DevOps and IoT in the organisation.”

Why Reskilling Wins Over Hiring

Replacing existing employees or making a new hire may be quite cumbersome and expensive compared to re-training employees. It may not be the best course of action in many ways as onboarding fresh talent requires both time and money, replacing older employees may have a negative impact on the morale of the existing team and affect brand reputation and there is always a risk of hiring the wrong person for the job. In fact, new hires may become obsolete over a period of time, making the company come back to square one, essentially meaning that it is only a short-term solution to replace old, already trained employees to newer people.

While there is no denying that there is a skill gap when it comes to the analytics market and companies need to take thoughtful decisions while making a move that best fits in the interest of the company. This article gives a birds-eye view of what may suit better for tech companies in the highly tech-driven environment and the approach may vary in different companies based on the requirements and facilities they have.

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by Vijayalakshmi Anandan

The Deep Learning Curve is a technology-based podcast hosted by Vijayalakshmi Anandan - Video Presenter and Podcaster at Analytics India Magazine. This podcast is the narrator's journey of curiosity and discovery in the world of technology.

Srishti Deoras
Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.

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