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Preparing for the skilling revolution in the hybrid workplace

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By Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director, Barco India

There is no contention over the fact that people need to reassess and revamp their personal brands on a consistent basis. This adage has proved even more true during the ongoing pandemic. The opportunities brought by the pandemic-induced lockdowns, including hybrid work, contract work and gig work have made it necessary for employees and organisations, to relook at skilling and to invest in continual reskilling.

It is mission-critical now to embrace a continual skilling approach because businesses too need to be on a continuous innovation cycle. The mentality needs to veer away from a one-off crisis management strategy to a change mentality, that of a continuous approach to skilling. This is because digital is not just enabling businesses, it is where the business is, it is the business. Today’s digital-first world has turned all firms into tech companies. Digital transformation, therefore, is now seen as continual transformation. There is no option but to jump aboard the skilling bandwagon.

According to a World Economic Forum report of Future of Jobs, new technologies, demographic shifts and the impact of Covid-19 on the labour market have radically transformed the way organizations conduct business and the type of skills their talent needs to help them thrive in this new age of work. Nearly 50% of companies expected that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce, while more than half of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling. The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated these trends, increasing the need for large-scale, informed and collaborative action.

When companies need to be on an innovation cycle, talent needs to keep pace. In order to stand out from the rest of the competition—which has become more intense with increased digitisation—companies need to differentiate themselves and make their value proposition shine brighter than others. An agile, diverse and creative workforce that is continuously learning, adapting, acquiring and perfecting new skills is thus de rigueur. This is also important to turn around the Covid-propelled financial crisis, the greatest that we have ever witnessed. It requires companies to think fast, and react even faster to remain afloat. This makes upskilling, reskilling and innovative practices indispensable in any organization.

What’s good for the companies is that employees too have personal aspirations. That’s a huge driving force and boosts productivity. Companies that are smart enough to harness these aspirations, through career pathing initiatives, providing their employees with personalized growth paths, will see better engagement and loyalty among employees, and a significant rise in the positive outcomes.

The work environment is drastically changed now. Hybrid workplace ensured work continuity and created opportunities for business leaders to change work culture, redesign the workplace and invest in technologies in sync with today’s needs. Corporates can now identify talent across geographies and get them connected with the organization virtually. Freshers are being trained virtually, with flexibility of self-paced immersive learning courses. Education tech needs to be equipped with the right tech to explore innovative learning models, and advanced sight and share technologies to ensure conversations are seamless, discussions are effective and the context is captured, analysed and communicated with no undesirable disturbances. AI, ML, sentiment analysis and IoT sensors enable productive, distraction-free and effective collaborations.

ABCD, or Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud Computing and Data have transformed a range of industries and businesses. The digital spike has been so sudden that it caught India Inc unaware when the pandemic first struck. Industry body Nasscom says that for every 200 open positions for digital jobs in India, 100 coders are available. Naturally, there’s a scramble for talent.

Considering the limited pool of professionals with skills in emerging technologies, proficiency in these areas will be a key differentiator across all industries. Hence, professionals across technology fields will need to be reskilling and upskilling themselves to stay relevant in their careers. With a lot of work is being handled remotely, the ability to interact on camera in a professional manner during an interview is also of greater importance now.

The race to being seen as a talent hub is warming up across the world. For India to retain its lead in the digital era, we need to disrupt the traditional approach to talent development, and become forever-learners. It’s an exciting phase.

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