By Supriya Menon
Newer technologies bring with them the promise of a better tomorrow – for industry, society, environment and people. They also bring with them the need for newer skills and capabilities that can scale up to meet the demands of the future. The fourth industrial revolution requires us to reimagine the ways in which we interact and leverage with technology to drive development for industry, countries, economies and human beings. In my experience, there are two aspects to this. One, learning new skills to use new technology effectively to fully leverage its power for good. And two, upskilling to learn new skills in order to avoid technological unemployment. The good news is that both these considerations can be addressed with a comprehensive training strategy.
As the tech landscape gets more competitive, and the need for innovation rules the roost, organizations have realized that their talent pool is their biggest asset. Our research indicates that 65% CIOs believe that lack of innovation is affecting their ability to stay ahead of competition. Of course, an important point to note here is that 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.
Organizations across domains are increasingly investing in learning and development strategies to equip their teams to leverage new technologies. Opportunities to reskill and upskill are also key factors for driving employee motivation and engagement. Our research indicates that IT professionals need at least 10 hours of training to keep their skills current and a well thought out training strategy involving classroom, online and on the job learning can benefit both the employee and employer meet the demands of the digital era.
Training and development are also extremely critical factors in driving customer satisfaction. As India’s digital transformation journey moves into the next phase, CIOs are moving out of their operational roles to focus on matters of strategy. They expect strategic counsel from their partners to help them monetize their digital investments. The 2018 Business Survival Compunnel Digital indicates a customer’s digitally enabled interactions with an organization’s brand, people, and technology are likely to influence their decision to continue their engagement with the company.
Legacy skillsets, jobs involving routine activities and an inability to innovate are significant inhibitors in the current technology economy. To begin with, there is a significant gap between academic courses and the skills required on the job. According to a recent study 9 out of 10 technology sector employees feel there is a huge gap between what is taught in class and what is expected on the job.
The need, therefore, is to make academic training relevant and industry focused. The second, more critical challenge is that of people already on the job who are finding their skills outdated. According to a joint report published by industry lobbies FICCI and NASSCOM, 37% of the Indian workforce will be in jobs demanding drastically different skill sets by 2022.1 Reskilling the workforce is essential to for them to be able to complement and leverage emerging technologies to drive innovation and future growth for the organization.
There is no denying that technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning will increasingly impact jobs across sectors. But the situation is not as dire as it might seem at first glance. 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’.”2 Comprehensive training and reskilling measures are critical to not just safeguard against technological unemployment but also drive innovation and future proof the organization. From my interactions with customers and industry peers I can safely say that most Indian organizations understand the value delivered by reskilling programs and are actively investing in them. We can look forward to meeting the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution with a workforce that is skilled and equipped to leverage emerging technologies for good.
(The author is the Director – Education, VMware India)
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