The current Covid-19 crisis has undoubtedly accelerated the reinvention of business models and new ways of working. In fact even before the crisis, new technologies were disrupting jobs and new job skills. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14% of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and other disruptive technologies. Hence reskilling is not a new phenomenon. But the coronavirus pandemic has only made this question more urgent.
In a recent conversation with CXOToday, Sumed Marwaha, Regional Services Vice President and Managing Director, Unisys India, believes in the current scenario, reskilling and upskilling can certainly give your employees more diverse skill sets that would fit into evolving enterprise business goals.
Reskilling the need of the hour
To meet this challenge, Unisys like every year hosted its Cloud 20/20 event, a technology project contest in India that attempts to bridge the gap between industry and academia. The contest attracts engineering students from across the country, encouraging them to transform their innovative ideas into demonstrable projects.
“This year we received 3250 plus member registrations and 319 project submissions from 130 colleges across the country,” he said, explaining that during a typical Cloud 20/20 evaluation process, the submissions pass through multiple rounds of evaluation, post which the top six teams are shortlisted for a face-to-face event in Bangalore. The experience offers outstanding experiential learning opportunities as the best student teams from across the country come together on a single platform, pitching their ideas to an eminent jury and audience made up of Unisys leadership, subject matter experts and industry leaders from the technology space,” said Marwaha.
However, Marwaha was quick to point out that that the pandemic however made Unisys rethink the event format and convert what used to be a physical event into a completely virtual one, considering the health and safety of everyone in the picture.
Adapting to the new normal
Workers across industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions, and companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. It’s about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era, he believes.
“It is imperative that individuals also take the onus of keeping themselves updated on industry developments and skill sets required so they remain relevant and competitive. Technology is changing every day and these are exciting times for the very same reasons. Those who are willing to learn and stay abreast are sure to emerge as winners,” he said.
According to Marwaha, the IT sector has a very dynamic landscape with new skills coming up every few months. Companies are interested in investing in employees who focus on continuous learning and upskilling. Information security, micro-segmentation, robotics, blockchain, AI/ML, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and data analytics are some of the skills that are in great demand. Given the dynamics of work and working arrangements in and post the COVID-19 crisis, data security experts that are familiar with the ever-evolving threat landscape are likely to be in high demand.
The upsurge of virtual events
The growing acceptance of online media and social networking websites led to the popularity of virtual events such as webinars, chats, virtual summits etc. In the lockdown scenario, we have noticed an upsurge of virtual events.
Though there are challenges in getting virtual forums up and running and attracting the right audience, they also present the possibility of remote attendees are participating from any corner of the world at no additional cost and therefore promote greater networking and knowledge sharing.
Making a reference to Cloud 20/20, Marwaha said, “The virtual event was also a result of our focus on the health and safety of all our stakeholders. Although the COVID-19 pandemic altered many aspects of the event, the Cloud 20/20 team is proud to have kept the commitment we made to the student teams when we rolled out Cloud 20/20 Year 11 contest towards the second half of 2019.”
“Additionally, we also lived up to our promise of onboarding the deserving candidates as interns and fresh hires with Unisys India,” he said.
“Today, we see large corporates choosing to host virtual events to fill in the engagement gaps posed by restriction on physical movement and face-to-face engagements. We expect to see a surge in demand for secure virtual events over the next few months,” summed up Marwaha.