Reinventing oneself through the skilling game

Last week at the 9th India CSR Summit I had the opportunity to interact with a lot of professionals. Invariably, the discussions would move towards resignations and layoffs. What stood out in that was the role skilling had to play.

Statistics show that if you have been employed after 2015, 30% of your skills have already become redundant. Imagine what happens to those who have been working for more than two decades! They would perhaps soon find themselves redundant and their skills obsolete.

As per the India Skills Report 2021, only about 45.9% of young people can be considered employable. India has a population of almost 50 million young, productive age force eyeing for jobs. If one were to go with the above report, less than half of them would be employable.

This raises a big question on the gap that exists between skills, education and employment. This gap cuts across all sectors and all designations.

You are in charge

The obvious answer to bridge the gap can be found either in upskilling those who are already employed or devising new skills-based education curriculum for the unemployed. While the later can be deliberated at length in discussions pertaining to the social sector, allow me to focus on how the current breed of employed professionals can upskill themselves.

There was a time when almost all organisations had a vibrant in-house learning and development function. Today, online training has become more ubiquitous. What drives this change is the underlying strong belief and credo – ‘you are in in charge of your development and growth.’ This is also the reason why development dialogues with managers assume importance.

What is given is that one has to be up to date with the new demands and skills required in a job and be agile enough to acquire the right knowledge that can help one navigate this ever dynamic and fluid situation.

Your attitude will determine your skill sets

In my conversation with various people working in the area of skilling, it occurred to me that the barriers they spoke of, cuts across geographies, education and designation.

For instance, the biggest barrier is attitude.

Many live in a utopian world that the knowledge, years of experience and degrees that they possess will help them surf the tide. If that were true, LinkedIn would not have put in place a robust learning platform offering knowledge and training for almost every conceivable skill. The perception that there will not be much to gain from upskilling is the biggest barrier. In a study conducted by the by the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, which surveyed 1,056 knowledge workers across Europe on why they were not adopting a continuous learning mindset, it came out that 77% did not believe that learning will have a significant impact on their ability to do their jobs. Additionally, 65% believed their current skill set would sustain them throughout their careers!

The world of communicators/PR professionals demands a lot of them not just in terms of stakeholder engagement, narrative and context setting but also new skills that continue to evolve with the changing scenarios.

There was a time when communicators focused solely on internal messaging. Over the years, the universe expanded to media and investors. Then came in the government and reputation management skill sets. Advocacy became big time. Social media skills were not far behind either. One had to learn to juggle multiple platforms with equal ease. Today, we have ESG and sustainability riding the wave of popularity that demands that communicators and agencies remain abreast of all that is happening in this arena. This calls for constant upgradation of knowledge and skills.

If you have to stay in the game, you will need to ensure you have the skills that can propel your learning and growth. You will have to remove time to juggle new learnings along with your regular workload. To understand what skills are needed in the future you will need to be sharp and perceptive to the changing order of the world and the new demands that the workplace will put up.

Time to therefore gear up, get hands dirty and learn some new skills!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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