Learning is known to be the greatest investment against unforeseen challenges and business disruptions. Hence, organisations need a talent pool of highly qualified professionals backed by solid learning interventions in industry-relevant hard and soft skills to gain a competitive advantage. In an exclusive interaction with the founders of Sunstone, a first of its kind higher education service provider with a solid presence and network across the country, People Matters gained incredible insights on what it takes to hire a future-ready workforce.
Piyush Nangru, COO & Co-Founder and Ashish Munjal, CEO & Co-founder, shared with us at length about the business value of investing in recruitment partnerships and how it empowers organisations to onboard talent with the skill-sets most in demand. Here are some exclusive excerpts.
With talent leaders increasingly recognising the importance of finding the right talent partner, how can industry-academia collaboration help build a future-ready workforce?
Piyush: Learning in the digital world has to evolve rapidly to keep pace with digital disruption. Businesses today are building a holistic ecosystem to deliver end-to-end solutions for their customers through partnerships with technology service providers. This inevitably impacts the skilling domain, and organisations have to collaborate with MOOCs, training providers, academia, other enterprises, and the government to build a future-ready workforce that is digitally equipped to take on the new business landscape. In line with this, The New Education Policy (NEP) also encourages digital modes of learning to enable more accessible and inclusive industry relevant skilling programs.
Organisations that have established alliances with academic institutions and use them for specific initiatives, including faculty upgrading, internships, curriculum revision workshops, and research incubation, can reduce post-recruitment training costs and lower churn rate as their learners develop more ownership in their roles.
In addition, when industry and L&D leaders work with institutes, they can develop custom certifications based on their unique and emerging requirements. This then helps train talent in line with industry and organisational demands at a much faster pace.
How does the business model of Sunstone address the current skill gap?
Ashish: Sunstone is a leading higher education service provider that works with academic institutions in up-skilling students for employability. It offers career-oriented, and industry endorsed training interventions for undergraduate and postgraduate students at over 35 institutions across 25+ cities. These programs are designed for hybrid delivery with an unparalleled focus on soft skills and personality development to provide students with a holistic educational experience.
Sunstone works closely with industry stakeholders to understand the skill gap in the current talent pools. It uses those insights to create relevant training interventions for a fresher to thrive in the workplace. Its learning management system also tracks every student on a real-time basis to measure their progress so experts can intervene at the right moment with a remedial action plan. By leveraging technology solutions, we scale up this model for thousands of students so that the fresher workforce can lead the way in closing the skill gap and heighten business performance from day one.
Since the inception of Sunstone, what has been some of its much-celebrated success stories?
Piyush: Sunstone has a multifaceted learning approach, and its vision is to bridge the gap between academia and industry by enabling fresher exposure to industry experts, workshops, webinars, alumni networks and more.
Our students come from various backgrounds, but we empower them to unleash their potential to get their desired job roles. We back them up with industry-oriented training, boosting their confidence by empowering them in soft skills. Our greatest success stories lie not only in our 100% final placement rate but also in building a workforce that is confident in the competencies they have and, most importantly, resilient against any challenges that they may face. After all, a resilient workforce is fundamental to carry your business to great heights in the face of unforeseen hurdles and business disruptions in the wake of rapid digital transformation.
In the face of mass hiring plans, how can businesses implement a more human and personalised recruitment strategy?
Ashish: We live in an era where technology is invariably the backbone of every industry and sector; hence, organisations and academic institutes must keep students updated on the latest technology interventions and trends. Regular briefing sessions on relevant technological breakthroughs and interaction opportunities with digital solutions providers would help gain the right insights about the industry. These will vary across sectors but learning from industry veterans will lead the way in building that future-ready workforce and bridge the ongoing skill gap.
The new generation of professionals has a different way of thinking which is why the best way to manage young talent and get the best out of them is to understand them and their caliber and accordingly channelise their energy. Practical learning becomes key to retaining the human touch and personalising the learning process to meet the unique business needs.
Students have to be exposed to real-life situations, manage expectations and solve complex problems. Immersive internships and boot camps at Sunstone play a vital role in this direction.
What are some words of advice that you would like to share with HR leaders as they re-invent their hiring strategies for the future of work?
Piyush: While a future-ready workforce is pivotal for business growth and expansion, employee well-being must also be factored into today’s hiring strategies. When businesses expand beyond physical well-being to include emotional, financial, social, and career wellness, they will witness remarkable growth in employee engagement, productivity and performance.
HR leaders today are actively seeking ways to bridge the skill gap. Still, employee experience must also rest on a culture of support and well-being to empower your employees to give their best and for your business to achieve success and the desired outcomes out of your recruitment process.