Building future job-ready workforce

According to the World Economic Forum study on Future of Jobs (2020), by 2025, over 85 million jobs will be made redundant by emerging technologies while 97 million new roles will take shape. Even before the impact of such numbers on employability could set in, the Covid pandemic and the rise of industry 4.0 proved that hybrid culture and greater dependency on new technologies is here to stay. As a result, the biggest challenge for employers across industries is bridging the skill gap caused by redundancy or changing industry demands.

Skills groups such as critical thinking and analysis, problem-solving, and skills in self-management such as leadership, stress tolerance and flexibility are becoming more prominent in the current market. Employers have started to notice these skills gap in their workforce and to mitigate this rising trend, companies are picking up the mantle to equip their workforce with the right skill prowess. Industry trendsetters like AT&T, Amazon and PwC have already adopted a forward-looking strategy of upskilling and reskilling their workers by means of training, education, and other capabilities to function efficiently and meet the demands of a rapidly evolving technology landscape.

Moreover, today, executives are able to weigh in the benefits of upskilling existing workers, and making it their business priority. Studies indicate a five-fold increase in employer provision of online learning opportunities to their workers, a trend that is bound to rise with time. It would therefore be prudent of employers to acknowledge their duty in providing employees with the opportunities and resources to upskill themselves, for their own survival as they stand at the helm of an uncertain future.

Employer benefits of upskilling

Tumultuous environments have given rise to work cultures where employee satisfaction and well-being takes precedence. Employees today seek non-financial motivators in line with job enrichment (more challenging/fulfilling tasks) and job enlargement (more number of tasks). By providing appropriate opportunities and resources, organizations can maximize employee experience (EX) and lower attrition rates, positioning themselves as an employer of choice. Studies further show that reskilling efforts pay off in the form of enhanced bottom-line growth, improved performance, employee satisfaction and better customer experience.

Another compelling case for employers to invest in reskilling their employees is that such a transition is not just a social good; it’s a competitive imperative. Since upskilling helps automation drive, organizations that reskill employees can look to save additional investments over the years. Upskilling is both hence cost-effective and has significant mid- to long-term dividends, not just for employers but also for the society at large.

Changing industry demands: Indian landscape

Automation, digitization, and AI are transforming almost every industry, changing existing job roles and skills required in series. Working professionals in India agree that a skills gap exists, with 76% expressing that they feel personally impacted by it (Udemy 2019 report). A further implication of this change is that organizations also need workers with the right skills who can use and apply these new technologies at work; a gap between the adoption of new technology and the skills to use those technologies arises leading to diminished productivity gain in companies if the workforce is not appropriately skilled to handle these ‘new’ jobs.

In such a scenario, upskilling of workers takes centre-stage, with employers driving this paradigmatic shift forward. The pandemic was testament to the fact that Indians are up to the task of adapting and upskilling themselves, equipped with the learning agility to retrain to meet changing industry demands. Indian companies have been presented with a ripe opportunity. If implemented diligently, upskilling can significantly increase our economy and introduce new jobs in the next decade.

The disconnect

Reskilling and upskilling has been touted as one of the top ten disruptive investment areas, with online education poised to become a $313 billion market by 2030. However, in a country like ours, getting appropriate funding to finance these upskilling courses remains a challenge for learners across the board. A PwC survey found that 78% employees think employers should pay for upskilling/reskilling as workers struggle to pay for it themselves. Chief executive officers realize their responsibility, and have demarcated improvement in skills and adaptability of their people as key focus areas. At this juncture, fintech companies and NBFCs are stepping in with solutions to bridge this burgeoning gap, in the form of education financing, offering affordable and accessible financing packages and solutions for organizations to fulfill their learning and development goals.

As opposed to traditional tuition/course fees, reimbursement programs and discounts, these offerings in partnership with notable institutes, have customized programs designed to cater to employees’ unique requirements, eliminating the need for them to take out expensive loans to upskill themselves. Given India’s massive workforce, learning new skills is not just for individuals seeking new jobs, it’s equally essential for professionals on the fly. Self-sponsored employees are given the option to take zero-cost EMI loans with the advantage of such services being that they can provide financing solutions irrespective of an individual’s credit score and history, making these programs highly accessible for learners of all backgrounds. Support in terms of learning flexibility, and admissions and career counseling are also provided, which in turn, is opening more doors for our massive workforce.

As organizations grapple to stay on top and keep pace with disruptive technological innovations, continuous upskilling becomes the prime differentiator when it comes to their success. They are not expected to mitigate the disconnect when it comes to future skill and talent management alone; hence forging creative partnerships with relevant players will be the key to an organisation’s relevance and competitiveness in the coming years. With fintech companies paving the way forward, greater avenues for online learning and financing are being made available for learning, ensuring democratization and customization of education. The education financing industry is still at a nascent stage in India, however, it provides a viable solution to the problem of financing and is surely set to expand exponentially in the coming years.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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