What made the situation worse for Arun was the dawning realisation – a tad too late in the day – that the company was actually right. In his constant endeavour to climb the corporate ladder, he neglected the prized abilities that had helped him bag the job in the first place. Determined not to let this blow bog him down, Arun enrolled for a short-term professional certification course in his field of expertise.
The training gave him the much-needed platform to validate his skills and technical expertise and got him back to programming. Three months after the trauma of losing his job, Arun bagged a better-paying job at a company that recognised his skills. For Arun and millions of others like him, re-skilling proved to be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
In a nation where the education system churns out 1.5 million engineers a year, the fundamental law of economics becomes frighteningly relevant: the wants are said to be unlimited, but resources limited. Multinational IT companies, once much sought after by graduates from every background just like moths to a flame, have now started focusing on achieving efficiencies through automation and thereby reducing their human capital.
The World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Report, 2015, highlights the primary issue as the mismatch between educational syllabi and market requirements. Most university programmes are unable to keep pace with the changing technological advancements, and are producing graduates who are, in terms of expertise, not quite industry-ready. Many of these beginners also lack the ability to collaborate successfully within teams or take initiative as self-directed employees, making them less attractive to the employer in the long run. The report emphasises the need for re-skilling to combat this mismatch to deliver quality workforce.
The problem, however, doesn’t end there. Brilliant young graduates who were hired by MNCs fresh from college have gone on to middle-managerial positions. Many of these managers possess 6-12 years of experience, and comprise 10-15% of the work force at leading IT firms, with roles involving resource allocation, software quality management, and training. These functions are now gradually being automated or replaced by emerging technologies like M2M (machine-to-machine communication), rendering their roles redundant. Unless these employees are able to demonstrate a certain degree of technical competence, they are of little use to the company, and are usually shown the door.
This issue is not restricted to IT alone, but is seen across sectors. If middle level managers do not embrace the latest skills that are in demand, they are paving way for bottlenecks in the company’s performance, with the company in turn axing them.
It is important for these managers to know business and adapt to change. To complicate matters further, companies across the nation are grappling with the problem of poor employability of the graduates.
Re-skilling has long been part of the central government’s national agenda to effectively leverage the demographic dividend. With 365 million youth in the age group 10-24, India will soon possess an employable workforce larger than the entire population of the United States. But numbers are one thing, quality quite another: imparting the right skills to make as many of these youth industry-ready remains one of the government’s key challenges.
The National Policy for Skill Development (NPSD), 2009, espoused a target of 500 million trained youth by 2022. To this end, institutional arrangements, such as a dedicated Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, a National Skill Development Mission with MoUs signed with Canadian educational institutions, and over 70 national schemes to cater to re-skilling have either been set up or strengthened.
As the demand for mass, organisation-wide training continues to grow manifold, companies need to evaluate which model of training would suit their own particular set of requirements. Companies are increasingly beginning to lean towards online certification training, as it offers employees from across geographies unmatched flexibility and freedom to learn at their pace. The employees, in turn, are bolstered with confidence and ability to perform better at the workplace. This assumes significance in context of modern-day, free-market businesses, where the educational background tends to be spread across a fairly diverse spectrum, and professional ability varies from one employee to another.
In an environment where continuous learning and bridging skill-gaps remain the only way to overcome the next big, disruptive change, the private and public sectors face a huge challenge in revamping the skills infrastructure, nationwide.
This goal can be achieved only through intensive, sustained, and coordinated effort. To this end, professional certification course providers are roped in to train and upskill employees in both sectors. Channeled funding and investment from the union and state government and a well-defined training module curricula aligned to the current industry landscape can play a significant role in terms of achieving the long term goals.
Source | The Hindu | 15th July 2015