Srikanth is the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) at Mphasis.
The pandemic is transforming workforces into a new order as it sweeps through continents. Remote working, social distancing and lockdowns are melting old habits and shaping new behavior patterns worldwide. Enterprise leaders, unclear of the pandemic’s trajectory, are seeing the deep carves of digitalization etched onto an enterprise’s core and how that is catalyzing tectonic shifts at work.
The call for change is rising through the ranks of enterprises as new opportunities in software, data and solutioning emerge. Skilling the workforce is now vital for a smooth transition of the enterprise into the post-pandemic ecosystem.
A few pioneers have taken the lead. In March 2020, when Sweden faced an alarming decrease in airline travel and a growing surge of Covid-19 cases that put a strain on the healthcare sector, it did the unthinkable: reskilled the laid-off cabin staff of Scandinavian Airlines to support healthcare workers. Today, Sweden’s healthcare sector can manage the pandemic better as laid-off staff from airlines and other industries are continuously reskilled to offer a helping hand in saving lives, while earning a livelihood for themselves.
That is just one example of the hidden potential within our workforce and how the pandemic has offered new possibilities for us. It has ruptured the crust of legacy and human-intensive operations enveloping organizations and is catalyzing a spurt of digitalization. There is an immediate requirement for software developers and data scientists in the IT sector, but with next-gen skill requirements. Finding the right candidate in the mass of job applications continues to remain a challenge. Technology, domain expertise and design thinking are three skill pillars to strengthen tomorrow’s workforce. To mine the right talent, we need a two-pronged strategy: upskilling new hires and reskilling current employees.
Upskilling New Hires
The pandemic is widening the gap between education and new-age job requirements. An estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide are affected by a skills mismatch. Unfortunately, the class of 2020 is now entering one of the worst job markets in history.
Enterprises must invest in skilling new talent to inculcate digital data skills, problem-solving and continuous learning. Strengthening their emotional intelligence, resilience and adaptability will help them face a future driven by intelligent automation. Every new hire must have domain expertise besides excellent communication and soft skills. This approach endorses the increasing application of arts to educate students in the United States of America, known as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).
My advice to graduates is to gain as many skills as possible. Having just one qualification in coding C++, communication or statistics is not good enough. Graduates must focus on learning a diverse set of subjects that can help them understand and solve real-world problems.
Reskilling Current Employees
Before, teams would spend three years developing a software application, followed by five years of maintenance. Like an assembly line in an automobile factory, the software development life cycle (SDLC) mandated code to evolve as it slowly progressed from one team to another. It created hierarchies and silos that prevented seamless operations.
Fortunately, agile methodologies in product development are now replacing the SDLC. Enterprises are now leveraging the cloud to accelerate time to market, enabling continuous delivery of solutions as per customer feedback, advanced analytics to personalize offerings and automation to reduce manual work. The change in software development mandates new skills in DevOps, automation, cybersecurity, infrastructure and application modernization and next-gen data and application development. Unfortunately, while there is a high demand for software professionals with next-gen skills, Indian IT companies find it challenging to identify top-notch talent, such as cloud architects.
Today’s workplace mandates a “full-stack” culture, in which having a master’s degree in business management is only an initial step in career growth because the journey ahead needs soft skills, a solutioning mindset, design thinking, technology knowhow and the ability to learn the new.
A robust talent transformation paradigm will enhance employee performance and reduce attrition. The fundamental focus for tomorrow’s talent skilling is to transform unidimensional competencies into multidimensional skills. In the post-pandemic era, talent training and engagement in the enterprise will require platforms that offer hyper-personalized courses. By integrating cutting-edge user interfaces, automation and insights, these platforms play a crucial role in talent transformation in a post-pandemic world.
In order for the enterprise to arrive prepared to the post-pandemic ecosystem, enhancing the workforce through upskilling new employees and reskilling current employees is vital.
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