Technology’s role is to enhance work done by leaders: MU's Pratham Mittal
The world of work is having its reskilling moment - organisations are fast realising that to keep up with the many technological advancements happening around them, it is essential that they ensure their workforce is highly competent and relevant.
To better understand the much-talked about talent skills gap, necessary upskilling/reskilling initiatives and technology’s role in the midst of it all, PeopleMatters spoke with Pratham Mittal, founder at Masters’ Union, a practitioner-led higher education institution where courses are taught by leaders from reputed organisations such as Google, Twitter, Reliance and Morgan Stanley.
What are your thoughts about the talent skill gaps plaguing industries across the country today?
Traditional management education in India today does not emphasize core technology subjects as much as it should. Graduates from traditional business schools are not exposed to tech-driven knowledge and learning that enables familiarity with basic technological frameworks and applications. When graduates are placed and employed, they ultimately need to reskill. To address this and ensure that graduates are job-ready from Day One, the training process needs to be updated. Pedagogies focussed on experiential learning are the way forward, where students learn by doing and applying what they learn. When human capital is job ready on the day they complete their educational pursuits – the results speak for themselves.
What do you think about the constant upskilling that has to take place today as newer and newer technologies emerge, making a lot of jobs redundant at breakneck speed?
Technology has brought human capital to the zenith point. From ChatGPT to Tome, AI is closer than ever before to imitating and replicating human skill. Yet, limitations are just as much a part of technology as anything else. Technology cannot overtake human skill because it is yet to become sentient. Management jobs by principle require an understanding of human behaviour and human capital - therefore some of the job deliverables (such as end timelines for delivery) that are repetitive in nature will be taken over by tech. This does not mean technology will put humans at risk of losing jobs and relevance. Technology’s role will be to enhance the work done by leaders and managers, by assisting them to improve factors of their work such as pace and progress. Leaders and managers need to learn to work alongside tech, and not let it cripple them in a way that they are dependent vs empowered.
In which direction should the present education system evolve to be able to push out a more skilled and industry-ready workforce?
There are 3 major reformations that are required in our education system - curricula must be designed in sync with industry needs, teaching needs to involve practitioners from the industry who provide direct industry access to students, pedagogies need to go beyond just classroom/rote/traditional learning formats and need to include more hands on and experiential learning. Education can become truly relevant to industry with increased industry exposure, relevant curricula and learning formats that foster learning by doing.
From a purely educational point of view, what method or pedagogy do you think works best to create not only motivated and skilled students but potential leaders?
Amongst pedagogies, clinical pedagogies (which involve physical purpose driven problem solving) work the best. Some call it clinical or actively-engaged learning and some call it experiential learning. Implementing what you've learned, as soon as you have learned it is a valuable way of recalling and retaining. When one simulates anything in a safer environment, it becomes possible to take risks that one would not take otherwise. A pedagogy that builds the spirit of learning by doing is the one that facilitates true immersion in the concepts that students learn.
What are some of the innovative practices that you think can be implemented on an organisational level to focus on talent as well as talent management?
Providing a safer environment to fail, not penalizing people for failed attempts, encouraging employees to have startups and initiatives of their own and avoiding putting employees in boxes and silos – all of this should be the norm. This kind of a model may have initial implications on the comfort of the old model, with attrition being the greatest risk organizations are not ready to face. There is no point in fostering the fear of attrition – the failure rate for such a model of work could initially be high – but teams come out stronger when given the ownership to operate.