Article: ‘Upskilling young professionals can unlock their collaborative and leadership potential’


‘Upskilling young professionals can unlock their collaborative and leadership potential’

The youth of today demand meaningful, not token, participation in decision-making and debates, particularly on issues that affect them. However, besides technical proficiency, young leaders require skills like problem solving, critical thinking, ideation, and creativity, says Uday Yedur, Head, Academic Relations and Infrastructure Markets, Project Management Institute.
‘Upskilling young professionals can unlock their collaborative and leadership potential’

Uday Yedur, the Head of Academic Relations and Infrastructure Markets at Project Management Institute, a for-purpose professional association with the primary goal to advance the practice, science, and profession of Project Management throughout the world, works on initiatives to help the youth become changemakers and leaders.

A PMP, an internationally recognised gold standard for Project Management certification, he also promotes Project Management education in colleges through academic outreach initiatives. A chemical engineer with about 20 years of experience working in the oil and gas sector, Yedur is an alumnus of the Centre of Executive Education, Indian School of Business.

In an interaction with People Matters, Yedur dwells on the need to re-imagine youth skills in the post-pandemic era and actions that businesses can take to help address the skills mismatch that young people all over the world are encountering.

Here are some excerpts.

Why do we need to reimagine youth skills in the post-pandemic era?

The future of work is changing fast. The pandemic has shown that work can be done from anywhere and we need to have a workforce that is willing to embrace change and be agile in the face of uncertainty. Collaboration, communication and innovation have been key attributes that have helped organisations and employees’ tide over this unprecedented phase of the pandemic.

As we continue to redefine ways of working, we need to take a closer look at how we can empower the workforce of tomorrow with skills that will equip them technically and professionally to do work that creates an impact.

The youth of today demand meaningful (not token) participation in decision-making and debates, particularly on issues that affect them. Besides technical proficiency, young and rising leaders require skills like problem solving, critical thinking, ideation and creativity etc

This is coupled with the industrial revolution and digital transformation that we are witnessing. The innovations in edtech have given way to self-paced, video based, interactive and hybrid modes of learning.

Hence, looking at the new ways of working that have emerged, ever changing talent needs in the market and technological progress we have made, we need a relook at the youth skills to build a truly resilient workforce of the future.

How important is youth skills development in the future of work?

Training young people and new graduates with project management and other related skills can also act as a catalyst to encouraging these rising leaders within your organisation. The key skills they should acquire are business acumen and various ways of working.

Upskilling young professionals through project management training can unlock their collaborative and leadership potential.

Additionally, a skill set those high-performing project professionals possess is what we call ‘power skills’ – the ability to use their interpersonal skills like communication, empathy, and an innovative mindset – to drive progress.

Today’s youth define the future of tomorrow and the impact of the skilling ecosystem on the overall employability of youth in India over the recent past is visible in the improvement in employability metrics.

Widespread skilling initiatives, e-learning, and emerging job opportunities have had a significant role to play in the overall increase in employability among youth.

Upskilling or capability development makes the youth future ready to not only apply skills like critical thinking and problem solving to daily work but also look at how they can make a difference and deliver projects that have a greater impact.

What are the new skills young people need to enter the workforce today?

A recent report by the PMI, in association with ARANCA, on the ‘Assessment of general skills development courses in India’ revealed that students and the entry-level workforce are interested in pursuing short-duration self-paced courses on power skills, preferably from standardised educational institutions, to improve their employability metrics.

It is becoming evident to students and job seekers that honing these skills can make the individual an asset who can aid the organisation by creating trust and psychological safety within teams while propelling their viability to the organisation and possibly advancing their own careers as well.

Today, technical skills alone aren’t enough to build a successful career anymore, and a mix of technical and power skills has become instrumental in adjusting to an agile workplace

Skills such as stakeholder and time management, active listening, analytical thinking, negotiation, complex problem solving, emotional intelligence, resilience and stress tolerance, etc. are needed in an ever-changing ecosystem that is under the confluence of technology and digitalisation.

How can businesses help address the skills mismatch that young people face all over the world?

Businesses can provide training opportunities, as well as actively encourage young professionals to become part of a professional community providing a unique setting to network with peers, learn about the latest trends, be mentored, and exchange ideas.

In the digital age we live in, it’s possible to connect to a global community of diverse experience and perspectives, which is vital for not only practicing interpersonal skills, but for learning about best practice.  

It is also important to remember that leaders can learn from young professionals entering the workforce. We can learn from their flexibility, their drive, motivation to make a difference in the world, and the value of fresh perspectives.

Coupled with a generation that is even more digitally literate than the last, young professionals bring so much to rapidly changing organisations – the key will be unlocking their potential. Therefore, there is a critical business case to empowering young professionals to be changemakers.

Investment in capability development and upskilling is a collective and collaborative effort.

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Topics: Skilling, Leadership Development, #FutureOfWork

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