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Why Reskilling Is the Answer to IT, ITES Skills Gap

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Each passing day, our daily lives and routines are being touched by enabling technologies that reduce complex tasks into simple ones. However, the downside of this fast-paced technology adoption such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, data science and machine learning is that there aren’t enough professionals who can work on the fast-growing demand for such services.

The fourth industrial revolution requires us to reimaging the ways in which we interact with and leverage technology to drive development within the industry, countries or economies. Hence, the need of the hour is reskilling and upskilling that will help employees navigate through the technological changes taking place across industries and workplaces.

Job reality bites

According to recent studies, the Asia-Pacific region is likely to face a shortage of 12.3 million workers by 2020, with the opportunity cost amounting to USD 4.2 trillion.  (Read the full report here)

“Professionals need to be trained in new skills and technologies that organizations presently seek to scale up in order to meet the demands of the future,” says Zairus Master, HR CEO at Shine.com.

“Today, jobs demand familiarity and expertise in disruptive technologies like AR-VR, blockchain, cybersecurity, AI-ML, 5G, and the Internet of Things (IoT). However, institutes and colleges are still producing engineers with the same skills that their predecessors had more than a decade ago. As a result, there is a huge mismatch between the demand and supply in terms of a skilled workforce. There is a critical need for more dedicated reskilling and upskilling initiatives aimed at getting the Indian workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow,” says Zairus Master.

Likewise, as the tech landscape gets more competitive, CIOs are moving out of their operational roles to focus on matters of strategy. Research indicates that two-thirds of the CIOs believe that lack of innovation is affecting their ability to stay ahead of competition. The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO report shows, legacy skillsets, jobs involving routine activities and an inability to innovate are impeding the current technology economy. Most importantly, there is a significant gap between academic courses and the skills required on the job, with 90% technology sector employees feel there is a huge gap between what is taught in class and what is expected on the job.

The other key challenge is that people already on the job are finding their skills outdated. This aspect has been well-articulated in a FICCI-NASSCOM report, which states that 37% of the Indian workforce will be in jobs demanding drastically different skill sets by 2022.

Hence, reskilling the workforce is essential for them to be able to complement and leverage emerging technologies to drive innovation and future growth for the organization. Experts also the need to make academic training relevant and industry focused.

Human Capital the Key

Tech innovation is only possible when employees can understand the many functionalities of a new technology and learn to use it effectively. Merely investing in a new technology solution is not the gateway to innovation; it is the people using the technology that hold the key.

Dr. Rohini Srivathsa, National Technology Officer, Microsoft India believes that in order to fully embrace tech intensity, organizations will also need to invest in their human capital. Organizations have to continually invest in their people.

“The rise of new technologies means that there is a necessity for workers to reskill and upskill to remain relevant and play a part in the workforce of tomorrow. In addition, CIOs and business leaders will need to drive cultural transformation within their organizations that values experimentation, agility, proactiveness and a growth mindset,” she says.

recent study by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific clearly shows that while 85% of businesses are willing to invest in skilling and reskilling of workers to create an AI-ready workforce, 65% of them have yet to implement plans to train their workers. Technology leaders must influence on the urgency to invest in workers’ training, as AI cannot progress without skilled individuals.

Learning Opportunity

In today’s digital economy it is imperative that employees are given opportunities to learn, develop, train and provide new ideas. Staff members need space to experiment, to challenge the organization and themselves. Whether it is a firebreak, hackathon or formal training program, each and every one of these methods works because they allow organizations to open their minds and consider the alternatives, believe experts.

“To succeed, companies must hire, develop, and retain talent better than their competition,” Pravin Rao, Chief Operating Officer, Infosys observes. He says, as enterprises progress in their digital journeys, winning companies should reskill workers in a culture of lifelong learning – invest in their people, who are the ultimate differentiator in a commoditized world.

There is no denying that technologies such as automation technologies will increasingly impact jobs across sectors. On a positive note, a good number of CIOs we speak to in Indian organizations understand the value delivered by reskilling programs and are actively investing in them.

They believe, comprehensive training and reskilling measures not just safeguard against technological unemployment but also drive innovation and future proof the organization. But the entire process of reskilling and upskilling still has a long way to go. As the World Economic Forum puts it, “The individuals who will succeed in the economy of the future will be those who can complement the work done by mechanical or algorithmic technologies, and ‘work with the machines.”

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