Survival of the fittest: Multi-skilled talent is the key to bridging the industry skill gap
“According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself,” Leon C. Megginson, Professor of Management and Marketing at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge.
Gone are the days when one skill could serve a professional through his entire career. Today, it is no longer sufficient to have skills in one domain; professionals also need cross-domain knowledge and cross-functional skills to stay relevant and thrive in the competitive skill landscape. Agility and versatility is the need of the hour and continuous learning is the key to staying relevant in the IT industry.
So, how did this need arise?
Traditionally, business transactions were time-consuming processes because projects were handled by multiple departments in an organization. Take for instance, a production environment. Due to lack of multi-domain knowledge within the team, developing, testing and deploying the entire project takes place in silos, making the process time inefficient.
IT industry’s history is full of multiple cases wherein by the time the project was deployed, the client requirements had changed. It was evident that the problem was with the bulky organizational structure and one-dimensional skill-sets of the teams. These setbacks led to organizations realizing the importance of having an agile workforce which could function seamlessly between verticals.
The importance of having an agile workforce is necessitated by the dynamic nature of the market, where the requirements are ever-evolving and shipping on time is a matter of survival. In such a scenario, organizations need professionals who can handle various tools and responsibilities. This is already prevalent in the start-up environment where stringent timelines and changing requirements have prompted professionals to develop multi-functional skills. It is now time for larger organizations to adapt to this requirement.
The emergence of Full-Stack developers is an apt example of this multi-skilling trend which is also reflected in hiring practices. In web development, organizations are now looking to replace individual front-end, back-end and UI/UX developers with Full Stack developers. This is largely because projects nowadays require professionals to be flexible in terms of their skills. While it is completely acceptable for a project to be handled by a team of combined experts, most companies are now looking for generalists.
Another major reason why companies are now hiring Full Stack Developers rather than specialists in different domains is because professionals with multiple skills make great managers.
Full Stack developers allow speedy optimizations and increase in efficiency. Similarly, managers working in the technology domain are required to have cross-functional knowledge in the domain they are working in. Knowledge of multiple tech stacks and incumbent technologies such as DevOps, Big Data, Cloud Computing and new-age programming languages, and even technologies of the future such as Artificial Intelligence, can be an asset for managers. This shift in focus, from specialized skill-based jobs to multi-pronged roles, has made multi-skilled talent as the default hiring choice in technology companies.
So, what can organizations do to create a multi-skilled workforce?
The answer is not to re-shape the hiring policies, but to focus on the continuous learning and development of the workforce. Today, most companies are achieving this by either training their employees internally with the help of their senior professionals or by partnering with learning platforms like Edureka. The conveniences that online training brings to the table makes it one of the top choices for most companies today.
A capable, multi-skilled workforce can open new, potentially lucrative, opportunities for the organization and also help retain people who want to move to multi-skill sets rather than limiting themselves to a particular domain.
So, what can HRs do to ensure do to ensure that their company’s goals are met?
As per industry trends, the focus should be on hiring professionals with a multi-skill background and experience. Most MNCs and newer startups have already started adopting this trend. So, the key takeaway for professionals looking for a future-proofed career is to adapt to the industry trends and up-skill with multiple technologies in a given domain. As for human resource professionals, you could save your company a lot of time and effort by hiring these ‘Jacks-of-all-trades’ rather than specialists.