Article: DTICI’s Harshvardhan Kundalkar on future-proofing the workforce through skilling and learning

Skilling

DTICI’s Harshvardhan Kundalkar on future-proofing the workforce through skilling and learning

A learning strategy that is aligned with the main business strategy enables quicker identification of skills that will be relevant in the long run and ensure the future readiness of the organisation, says Harshvardhan Kundalkar, chief people officer, Daimler Truck Innovation Center India.
DTICI’s Harshvardhan Kundalkar on future-proofing the workforce through skilling and learning

The automotive industry is driving through a rapidly-changing landscape.

Software and data are now central to its future, along with great engineering. With this transformation, the expectations of the professionals working in this industry have also had to change.

Harshvardhan Kundalkar, chief people officer, Daimler Truck Innovation Center India (DTICI) says up-skilling and re-skilling have become the need of the hour.

“Upskilling and reskilling employees creates a significant number of opportunities, both for the organisation and the employees. From improving retention to attracting new talent, helping employees envisage their career advancement path, and getting them excited about new possibilities, the potential is infinite,” he says.

However, as with everything else, there are certain challenges across the board.

In an interaction with People Matters, Kundalkar dwells upon the methods and approaches that are effective in skilling, upskilling, and reinventing learning in the new normal.

What are the challenges in up-skilling/re-skilling today? The opportunities?

One challenge, of course, is to have a clear and sustainable skilling strategy that evolves as per the business strategy and to communicate the same clearly.

Organisations need to adapt to meet the new requirements of today, including allowing for continuous learning from any location.

In addition, sometimes scaling these programmes in a sustainable manner can be a challenge. For employees, time constraints could potentially be an issue.

At DTICI, we ensure that our employees can upskill and reskill from anywhere, at their own convenience and pace, while pursuing courses of their choice. Another challenge is that upskilling or re-skilling is not an instantaneous process. Both the organisation and the individual need patience to achieve long-term success.

At DTICI, our employees are our core strength and are at the heart of everything that we do. We have significantly invested in online learning. We provide best-in-class learning opportunities for a broad array of needs, from specific skills required by employees to scale up in their job, to acquiring cross-functional capabilities, soft skills, and more.

We also recently launched a campaign called "Unlock Your Potential," where we have a number of employee-centric initiatives to provide our employees with learning and development opportunities.

What methods and approaches are effective in today's environment for skilling, upskilling and reinventing learning? How do DTICI’s hiring, training and retaining initiatives reflect this?

Digital learning solutions and learning on the go are important in the smartphone age when it comes to reinventing learning in the new normal.

The modern workforce recognises the value of lifelong learning and is looking for methods to advance their professional development. As an organisation, it is our responsibility to ensure that our people are aligned to technology shifts and market needs.

Today, employees want to learn at a time and place of their choice.

In this regard, the first measure we took at DTICI was to introduce the Online Learning Platforms that have given our people the required flexibility. We are focused on investing in people skills and leveraging our strength and capabilities to reimagine cutting-edge solutions as the industry goes through a massive digital transformation.

Importantly, we have created a framework wherein employees can identify career opportunities of their choice prevalent within the company and apply for them based on capabilities that they have acquired.

Upskilling and reskilling are key levers for employees’ holistic growth.

How can incorporating learning and skilling into organisational strategy help in future-proofing the business?

Upskilling and reskilling are often seen as a means to bridge the skills gap for an employee and an organisation. However, more importantly, it bridges the gap between potential and possibility.

An organisation cannot succeed if its employees are not aligned to the changing market landscape and technology shifts. A learning strategy that is aligned with the main business strategy enables quicker identification of skills that will be relevant in the long run. This ensures the future readiness of the organisation.

We have formed a group of leaders from various technical verticals who keep a close watch on the changing industry trends and collaborate with us to design learning interventions and frameworks.

It is also important to embed learning as a culture within the organisation. Embedding it is an important element of organisational processes as is recruitment, individual development plans and career progression. Our people are our biggest assets. Equipping them with skills for the future is definitely a way to future-proof a business but also, to prepare them to be frontrunners in their field.

How can the automotive industry build a future-ready workforce? What is DTICI’s contribution to this?

At DTICI, where innovation is not only a part of our name but also the very DNA of the organisation, it is almost a way of life to constantly innovate.

Whether we are innovating to find new ways of functioning or experimenting with new technologies, we are working towards a new future. A key aspect of that is ensuring that while we learn and grow as an organisation, our employees learn and grow as future-ready individuals.

Equipping our people with the key L&D tools to chart their future career paths is integral to building a future-ready workforce.

The software and data-related skills that are needed in the automotive world are extremely fungible; thus, they are relevant not only in the automotive world but across industries. The investments made by DTICI and other automotive companies to up-skill their employees will contribute towards creating a workforce that is future-ready and can work across industries.

However, everyone, including academia, industry, and government, needs to work together to ensure our workforce is future-ready.

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Topics: Skilling, Learning & Development, #FutureOfWork, #Digital Transformation

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