Upskilling – An indispensable future-forward approach

In the current times, when business landscapes and ecosystems are undergoing seismic shifts, majorly buoyed by technological breakthroughs and innovation, staying relevant, valuable and remaining ahead of the curve are no more a matter of choice, rather, a matter of indispensability. Here is where upskilling and reskilling yourself comes into the picture. Taking into cognisance this trend, many premier academic institutions are offering online courses to help professionals hone their existing skill sets and learn new ones. Coursera, UpGrad, NIIT, MICA among others, are offering several business critical courses and an increasing number of professionals across sectors are undertaking those, thanks to the flexibility, convenience, affordability, accessibility and time independency that such online learning platforms bring to the table. Not only do employers value such courses, it also equips employees to handle new kind of job roles and operate cross-functionally. With start-ups mushrooming and divisions between different functions and operations dwindling and getting obscure by the day, such cross functional skills are a welcome aspect.

The learning dichotomy in India has also undergone a paradigm shift off late. Not too long ago, we were talking about the demand and skill gap businesses face, while the country struggles to provide the best-in-class theoretical education. It was a common phenomenon that organisations grappled to procure business ready employable professionals who has the relevant skill-sets. Many large enterprises addressed this problem by institutionalising their own academic training centres or by partnering with the academia. Now, a largely different problem stares at us; a by-product of dynamic technological evolution and the dire need for harnessing entirely new skill sets and expertise. With rapid technological progress, how businesses and consumers consume different technological advancements, integrated approaches of business, upskilling has altogether gathered steam.

Traditional learning pedagogy and the skill sets that worked aptly just a few years ago for one to build a successful career, are no more cutting the ice. To manage this increasingly widening gap, organisations across verticals and businesses are either forging alliances with premier educational institutions to offer online courses to aspiring professionals or are roping in business experts and assigning capital corpus to invest in organisational Learning & Development. Many organisations are, in fact, asking their employees to complete free courses available on LinkedIn to their advantage. In a rapidly changing business environment, consistent and continuous upskilling is absolutely inevitable for thriving and surviving. Any interested individual can sign up for such courses from a reputed institute, against a nominal fee, learn from the comforts of their homes, appear for exams and bag certificates.

Besides, online learning and digital learning has their own inherent advantages vis-à-vis traditional models of imparting education. Customised and personalised specifically designed digital content and technology support makes learning more holistic, democratic and up-to-date. Thanks to the internet, anybody from anywhere in the world can attend to any guest lectures and classes, happening anywhere, from the comfort of their homes, or on the go. The interactive and immersive nature of such learning systems, where aspirants can discuss concepts with a larger base of audience online and with professors imparting such courses acts as an added bonus.

In a predominantly education conservative country such as India, online and digital education sector has carved out a niche for itself in an entirely new way. What was once more confined to the colleges and schools, have now permeated the workforce sphere as well. Immersive, interactive and integrated learning methods, enabled by AI, AR, VR and gamification are bringing about revolutionary changes in the way we learn and apply knowledge.

The critical aspect to take note of, is that, many technologies that seem commonplace now will become redundant in the coming times. Not just human skills, even human controlled technology will become automated as we transition onto the future. According to the McKinsey Global Institute report, around 800 million global workers will lose their jobs by 2030 and will be replaced by robotic automation. The skill sets that will continue to remain relevant will be creativity, analytical and predictive thinking, adaptability, out-of-the-box thinking, leadership and capability to manage and collaborate. No academic institution can train individuals in all these areas. In fact, going by the prevalent trends, over 15-20% of professionals will be working in job roles that are not even present today.

As the COVID 19 pandemic and the lockdown to contain its spread has kept us within the confines of our homes, many are taking advantage of their available time at hand, away from their otherwise busy schedules, to hone and nurture new skill sets and come out of the quarantine as better and more equipped professionals

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

Bhaskar Majumdar
Bhaskar Majumdar, Corporate Affairs, Communication, CSR & Digital, Egis India & Member-APACD India Has more than 22 years of communication consulting experience in the field of Corporate Affairs, Strategic Communications, Crisis Communication & Strategic Brand Building. He has worked with Reliance Industries as General Manager, Corporate Communications and ESPN Star Sports as Manager Corporate Communication & Events. He has also worked with agencies like Genesis PR, Vaishnavi Advisory, Adfactors PR and APCO Worldwide (a global consulting firm).

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