Preparing the Workforce for Future
At present, India is one of the youngest nations, with close to 65% of its population below the age of 35. By 2020, the country is set to become the youngest country in the world. Not surprisingly, today the millennials in India are driving the way organizations to operate, which will only gain more prominence in the coming years and decades. It is also estimated that over the next 20 years, India will have nearly 10-12 million people added to its workforce on an annual basis.
This phenomenon coupled with technology disruption through the advent of big data, Internet of Things, robotics, augmented reality and machine learning is changing the dynamics of skill development in India. When technology and people come together, brilliant things manifest. But while we have a huge workforce to our advantage, which is expected to grow even more, are we grooming it well enough to take up the challenges of future work scenario?
With the rapidly changing economy, organizations cannot always recruit talent with skills they need. Rather, they must internally develop most of the skills they require. Faced with these gaps in talent and skills, organizations need to move beyond HR and training.
The HR function is experiencing a huge shift. Organizations are relooking and evaluating the HR function to include new titles and roles such as Chief People Officer, Chief Talent Officer and Chief Experience Officer that are becoming increasingly pervasive and relevant. This is because today HR is not just about people management and drafting policies, but having an extended role that improves the employee’s perception of the company, keeps them engaged and gives them a sense of pride and ownership.
What this means is that HR of today is not limited to hiring and firing but also training the workforce for tomorrow and retaining it. This is even more relevant for bridging the skill gap due to the digital disruption.
Essentially, the growing skill gap will increase demand for training. Companies are struggling to bridge the skills gap resulting in increased demand for training. The largest skills gaps include communication/interpersonal skills, managerial/supervisory skills, critical thinking and problem solving, leadership skills, process improvement and project management skills and technical skills. To address these gaps, the need of the hour is to develop more practical, experience-based learning techniques and embrace technology as that in the coming time will be the key enabler for skill development.
Today, digital learning has expanded the boundaries of continuous skill development for organizations. Additionally, technology has paved new ways of imparting training to the employees. On their part, organizations must build frameworks and embrace technology to fill the skill gaps.
Here are some of the approaches to prepare the workforce for future:
Developing competency models: Competency models help organizations identify the skills and competencies needed to be able to perform a job successfully. So once the necessary competency for robotics or machine learning is identified, organizations can clearly understand the potential gaps in their workforce and close them effectively.
Provide a personalized learning experience: Once the competencies have been defined, finding the skill gap for each employee will become easy. Managers must work with the employees to identify their competency gap and create a personalized learning experience for them.
Mobile First: Mobile phone penetration in India is set to rise to 85% - 90% by 2020. But how does this affect learning? Millennials are tethered to their smartphones 24x7. Also, considering the short attention span of millennials, what was taught earlier in long classroom sessions or eLearning courses has now transformed into bite-sized information, giving way to what is called micro-learning. These are short training capsules focusing on a specific learning objective. These modules are typically 3-5 minutes long and provide just-in-time learning to the employees.
Today, working in a fast-paced professional environment demands instantaneous, applicable and concise content that an on-the-go, the modern learner can consume and digest easily. This makes integration of bite-sized learning and L&D very essential. Through this integration, organizations can address employees’ existing challenges, while creating a positive impact on business and employee engagement.
Video-based: Think about the popularity of YouTube in the recent years. The fact that human brain processes visual cues 60,000 times faster than text, reinforces the use of videos for learning. According to a study on customer training completion rates, courses with videos have 51% completion rate as against 36% for courses that are without videos.
To fill the skills gap, organizations will need to make their training more engaging and interactive, while integrating video learning as the way forward.
Content Curation: Another concept that is changing the way organizations are bridging the skills gap is through content curation. Today, an average employee spends 9.5 hours every week looking for relevant information. Just like a library where a curator manages books in a particular manner, content curation prevents wastage of learners’ time by providing them access to valuable information that is relevant to them.
Consider it as a portal of information specific to an employee’s role, job responsibilities, and department. This could include information available within the organization as well resources outside the organization such as publicly available videos on YouTube. Such a repository offers relevance and just-in-time training. However, bear in mind that content curation is an evolving process. Organizations need to gather customer feedback and pay heed to evolving business needs.
Lastly, it is critical to make sure that the gaps stay closed. Skill development is not a one-off event and it is of essence to regularly update the organization’s competencies, assess the current needs of the employees and use the right learning enablers to bridge the gap.