Upskilling is a Cultural Issue

Shrutidhar Paliwal, VP & Head - Corp Communication & Media Relations, Aptech Headquartered in Mumbai, Aptech is a global Education Management company offering a suite of training & assessment solutions for corporate, government and academic organisations to help them gain a performance edge and their workforce productivity.

The Indian skills ecosystem is emerging and at a brisk pace for the last few years. At some of the biggest most respected international forums, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken about the government efforts to be supplemented by active participation from the industry to create skilling platforms. It’s time for an honest admission that a skilled India is not just in the interest of the government but more so for the industry. Even within companies,it’s not just the responsibility of human resource department. It is now a critical factor determining the operational efficiencies, and therefore, should be part of the COO, CFO and CEOs active KRA. Key HR officials are always on the anvil looking for opportunities not just in India but globally and for this, a quick turnaround or talented workforce is required. This requires training, re-training and letting of the untrainable.

A skilled India, with the number of youths slated to join active work force is the real growth story. One must understand that a skilled employee is more task efficient (in terms of productivity and turnaround time) than an unskilled employee. It’s a fact that the industry is on a fast paced change trajectory that forces it to adapt to the changing needs of the market. It’s no more a unidirectional, pipe model where the industry dictated the terms. Customers and external environment do most of the talking today. Setting up a process that promotes re-skilling and up-skilling is in the long-term interest of company and its employees. This requires much more than just drafting a company policy. It merits a change in company culture.
Up-skilling is a cultural issue. As a company expands, it is evident that it will face the issue of skill-gap among few of its employees. There are two ways to tackle the situation. One, induct a new employee base that is equipped with the right skills. Two,upskill the existing employee base with new skills. Progressive companies chose the second alternative as it also fosters a culture of trust and builds loyalty among the employees. Many companies are also adopting an on-demand learning model, where employees can choose courses themselves and complete them online at a certain pace, which is far more conducive.

This gig economy, where independent consultants, contractors, and freelancers create portfolios of work in lieu of one full-time job, has been transforming the way we work

According to FICCI report, India considered as a developing economy with a population of 1.2 billion occupies a unique and special place today, in the global skilling ecosystem. It also states that in coming six years the average age of the population is estimated to be within 29 years. It can be predicted that by the end of 2022, India can be considered as having the utmost working age inhabitants.

According to the NSDC report, the IT industry has tremendous potential for growth and is expected to touch the Rs. 24 lakh crore mark by 2020,on account of rising consumer and business demand. In addition to this, the electronics manufacturing and design sectors too have opened up and increased the demand for niche operating skills coupled with computer knowledge, which has been the primary requirement. There are opportunities galore. Yet in the same breath, we discuss the extent of unemployment and the dilemma of unemployability. The rise of micro entrepreneurship or the gig economy adds to the kitty here.

This gig economy, where independent consultants, contractors, and freelancers create portfolios of work in lieu of one full-time job, has been transforming the way we work. For the last one decade, more so in the IT and peripheral industries, companies are forced to replenish workforce skills, pooling resources and investing in human resource development, which has a lot of costs, and eventually we have seen they are pushed to adopt a policy of upskill/re-skill or perish attitude.

However, in the gig economy, the employer values the quality of worker results, not the process by which they are created. The upskilling or re-training for a certain job, is the mandate that the micro entrepreneur or the freelancer has on him or her. There is no coercion, no date to start training, but the job requirement forces the aspirant to learn, upskill and probably uplift in the chosen field. We have had instances where the latest animation course module is available only online and that too from the practitioner (industry professional) and not as such from faculty. So knowledge is everywhere, the chance to pick a course and take relevant lessons at one’s own pace is the norm.