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Why Upskilling the Workforce is Now a Matter of Survival


Massive workforce shifts in 2020 have forced countless workers to refresh their current skills — and build new ones. According to Simplilearn’s recently released survey report titled ‘State of Upskilling in 2021‘, that was conducted to understand learners’ experience in the past 12 months and their expectations for the coming year, the key message is: Upskilling the workforce is now a matter of survival for organizations in a post-pandemic world. Needless to say that six in 10 respondents said they enrolled in upskilling in the past year to strengthen their career.

Obstacles in the learning process

However, there are a number of obstacles in the learning process, as over 30% of employees said that they are lacking key skills in their domain area and an equal percentage believe that in terms of the pandemic impact on career plans, they feel stuck. The report found that most respondents learned or planned to learn the following new skills – Data & AI (48%), Project Management and Scrum (34%), Cloud Computing/DevOps (32%), and Digital Marketing (21%). These are considered the key tech skills to survive in the hyper-digital world.

The survey which covered sectors such as BFSI, IT Consulting, ITeS, Manufacturing, Pharma, healthcare, among others, however, paints an optimistic picture, citing that 85% of respondents look forward to post-pandemic recovery and growth and 57% of respondents said upskilling themselves is the next step in their career development plan. The problem that nonetheless exist is that professionals said that lacking key skills is an obstacle as they are less likely to get new jobs or be assigned vital projects without those skills

“The pandemic has created a new world of work, and while the nature of jobs may change given automation and technological intervention, one thing is certain: everyone, irrespective of their age, will have to spend time on either upskilling or reskilling,” Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Simplilearn said.

According to him, every conceivable job will have new technologies to learn going forward as these roles fit and refit into a changing economic landscape. To embrace this change and grow successfully, one must stay motivated and put in efforts towards making learning a lifetime priority.

He added, “Given the rapid changes in the professional landscape, employees across industries must understand how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions. At the same time, companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. This dynamic is about more than remote working or the role of automation and AI. It’s about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models.”

Of all the industry sectors, people in BFSI are very optimistic that there will be a post-pandemic boom. Again, while people across all company sizes are optimistic about recovery from the pandemic, those in mid-sized companies (501-2,000 employees) are a little more cautious and somewhat less certain about the recovery.

Building a culture of continuous learning

Building a culture of continuous learning has several important benefits for enterprises as well as their employees, the study suggests, emphasizing that large enterprises emphasize continuous learning. Nearly one-third of people in small companies (50 or fewer employees) took a chance on changing their career paths and a little more than that in midsize (501 to 2,000 employees) and very large companies (over 10,000) reported feeling stuck,higher than in other sized companies

Nearly half or 47% of people in companies with 2,001 to 10,000 employees were more likely to upskill in their current work area, the highest percentage of any company size group

The study also shows that digitally-mature industry sectors are seen to offer more opportunities and less career stagnation. Of the various industry sectors, people in manufacturing (45%), BFSI (39%), and Information Technology (38%) were more likely to upskill for their current work.

Most learners understand that upskilling is crucial, and the overall demographic is mainly optimistic for the future. In addition to learners’ individual efforts, companies should craft a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities, social and emotional skills, and adaptability and resilience. That will help the workforce cater to the needs of new-age business models. Ultimately, upskilling and reskilling are the keys to a better career in 2021 and in the years to come.

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