Harshvendra Soin, Chief People Officer, Tech Mahindra
Tech Mahindra represents the connected world, offering innovative and customer-centric information technology experiences, enabling Enterprises, Associates and the Society to Rise. A 4.9 billion USD company with 113,550 professionals across 90 countries, helping over 926 global customers including Fortune 500 companies.
Recently, at an industry event, I had the privilege to share my thoughts on future workplaces, where I dwelled upon the means in which technology is likely to impact our lives making it more connected and productive. As I would like to imagine and believe, this influx of cutting-edge technologies that the world is currently witnessing will unearth unforeseen possibilities for mankind in the future.
As businesses continue to transform in the digital age, it will require them to re-imagine their processes and re-evaluate their talent strategies. The workforce, too, will need to be prepared for a rapidly evolving future of work constantly analyzing what talent and capabilities they bring to work. They will need to possess cognitive capabilities like logical reasoning and creativity.
Skills required for tomorrow are very different and it can be an opportunity. But if we don't adopt and change, every opportunity can be a threat, too.
The speed at which these technologies are developing is rapid and in order to maximize benefits out of this potent scenario, it is imperative for everyone in the industry to re-train themselves and adapt to the changes.
"India's demographic dividend will not last long if we as a nation do not keep pace with next-generation technology skills or Digital Skills"
While the conjecture might sound fool-proof, there are many challenges associated with it, first and foremost being the ‘Skill-gap’. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) - the apex body representing the country's IT and business process management (BPM) industry, has also reclaimed the fact that there is an urgent need to re-skill about 50 per cent of India's IT workforce, as demand for it in new technologies remains unfulfilled.
Widening Skill Gap
Disruptive technologies like Augmented Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, 5G and Internet of Things have been unleashed in the digital realm; it is up to us to ride the exponential growth wave they offer. Using these technologies innovatively will need a tremendous amount of expertise. It is in this context that India and the world at large, are staring at a widening digital skill gap.
Campus to corporate is the biggest transition that a graduate goes through in their lives. For many aspiring candidates, the stark contrast between corporate requirements and their education qualification often leads to an ‘expectation mismatch’ that casts a doubt on their individual capabilities.
Every year scores of students enter into the corporate world. Without having any inkling about the industry trends, domain knowledge and skills associated with market.
Skill-based Education is the Need of the Hour
Being a core part of the industry, the onus is on us to ensure that we nurture the industry talent from an early stage and help them acquire skills that would improve their employability and at the same time, differentiate themselves from the humongous competition in the job market. It will also equip them in solving complex problems of the real world.
Reforms in the Traditional Education System and Curriculum
As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, it is critical for us to make India’s workforce future ready in terms of making necessary amendments to the education system and providing requisite infrastructure support to improve educational attainment levels across cities beyond metros. Our education system at both the school and university levels needs to be in sync with requirements of modern businesses. Stringent benchmarking criteria to accredit institutes across states could also help in improving the overall standard of education. Instead of focusing on conventional teaching, educational institutions need to collaborate with the private sector organizations to provide practical training to students so that they can learn the industry skills required for successful careers.
Role of Government and Industry
The government, with its reskilling drives and policy reforms, has an important role to play in overall workforce reskilling. The industry will have to extend its support to the overall reskilling agenda by embracing technology and startups. Additionally, initiatives like Make in India and Startup India can boost employment avenues across the country.
Role of Industry and Academia
Industry academia partnerships can provide students with a much needed opportunity to develop skills and hone their capabilities under the guidance of industry experts which may also end up in their placement as interns and full time professionals. NASSCOM has launched a mega IT reskilling programme ‘Future Skills’ in association with the IT Ministry, to reskill approximately two million IT professionals over the next four to five years. Such a partnership will prove fruitful for IT companies too as the training offered by them would help identify and recruit innovative minds.
Leveraging India’s Demographic Dividend
India's demographic dividend will not last long if we as a nation do not keep pace with next-generation technology skills or Digital Skills. We are looking at a future where physical and digital lines blur to enable an all-pervasive connected experience. This engaged worldview will not only require reskilling of human resources to front the digital revolution but also bring to the fore human-machine collaboration. Deep learning, unlearning and adapting to a new normal will hold the key to the success of individuals and nations.