Article: Building India as a talent hub

Talent Management

Building India as a talent hub

A well-crafted skill development strategy could put India on to the path of being the global marketplace for talent. That may mean rethinking education not just from infrastructure and technology but from the teacher, students and employers' perspectives.
Building India as a talent hub

Technology in the workplace

What kind of a job could you get if you are a fun, creative person who can tell stories? There may be great job for that skill set combo. 

Every industry is getting impacted by new business models, disruptive technologies and entrepreneurs that are unafraid of taking bold risks. Hyper-connectivity makes it possible to work anywhere and that has huge implications for the competitiveness of the talent pool. Co-working spaces become fertile grounds for diverse perspectives. Artificial Intelligence is changing everything from how Amazon stores boxes in its warehouses to changing healthcare and the role of the physician.

Every role is made up of tasks. Technology simply allows us to disaggregate each task and assign it to machines that can do it faster and efficiently or to human beings who can do it cheaper. Very soon, we will see that some jobs have disappeared. Emails have changed the postal systems of countries. They deliver more packages for the eCommerce companies than snail mail. Automation may require an estimated 375 million workers to reskill for new jobs by 2030. New jobs are being created that have never existed before. Being a standup comedian is a thing now. As is the role of a ‘Tweeter-in-Chief’ that Twitter it looking for to run its Twitter account. The position requires a “fun, creative person with story-telling skills”.

At one level, we have high unemployment, but the employers do not find the right talent for several jobs. In the next decade, large organizations employing large numbers of people will co-exist with a booming set of gig workers and entrepreneurs. India’s talent strategy must have the vision to do this.

In the next decade, large organizations employing large numbers of people will co-exist with a booming set of gig workers and entrepreneurs. India's talent strategy must have the vision to do this

Education, skill, re-skill and upskill - at scale

Several new jobs will come up that have not existed before. That means rethinking our approach to education. The market for education is 8x the size of the software market. Talent Development is globally a $400 billion market. It is no longer enough to think about skilling the workforce, but to redefine the problem as building skills, re-skilling and upskilling the country. The skills needed to be an entrepreneur are very different from what it takes to succeed as a gig worker. The gig worker needs skills that are different from what employees need. Those who seek to pursue opportunities globally will need additional skills and qualifications. The jobs increasingly need skills of collaboration, communication, creative problem solving and coding. 

Fix education – identify few teachers who can inspire

There are great global benchmarks that we can draw upon. Singapore is a great case in point. In Singapore, school teachers get 100 hours of training a year to keep up to date with the latest techniques. Better to have big classes taught by excellent teachers than smaller ones taught by mediocre ones, is the model. “Master teachers”, train other teachers. Investing in education research helps to improve the outcomes. Content from successful educational startups like Byju’s and Khan Academy, if used by teachers who are continuously upskilled can prove to be gamechangers for building curiosity and love for learning.

Build a national database of skills

Having a rich database of skills could help build India as a talent hub. All educational qualifications need to be renewed annually. The skill base creates the possibility of using technology to match people to jobs in each profession or city. That could help employers and entrepreneurs decide where they have to look for someone with a certain skill. Supporting that with gamified assessment technology on the mobile makes it possible to take the performance anxiety that exams generate.

Self-learners are not the norm

While many people have signed up for online courses, the completion rates remain abysmally low. Access to content is not the reason why people are not continuously learning. Online learning works as a powerful way for people to build vocational skills and several others. Online learning is less effective for soft skills required at middle to senior levels in the organization. It is not enough to build learners. If one intends to build these skills at scale, one has to build teaching ability in every student.

Build self-awareness

Self-awareness can be the greatest input that enables people to make informed choices about their career. It helps them to make choices based on their motivations, preferences and values. Knowing their preference for working solo or risk-appetite or the negotiation skills, etc. can be valuable inputs in deciding whether one is best suited to be a gig worker or an entrepreneur or be an employee. There are many jobs where it is not possible to have previous experience. If you are applying for a job as a drone technician, it may not have been a job that existed before. How would one train for such a job? Learning ability matters disproportionately more in such matters. The desire to learn continuously is a lead indicator of how easy or difficult it will be to adapt to new technology or roles.

  1. Help the individual make informed choices regarding their education, skills, continuous re-skilling and upskilling.
  2. Create an educational system (based on research insights) that leverages technology to bring engaging content that teachers can be trained in every year.
  3. Encourage mastery and expertise – not degrees. Each degree must have validity for 3 years. After that the person has to take annual certification tests.
  4. Celebrate exceptional teachers. Make it an aspirational career choice.

Talent Development is globally a $400 billion market. It is no longer enough to think about skilling the workforce, but to redefine the problem as building skills, reskilling and up-skilling the country

The current government has got a mandate like no one has ever before. It is a chance of a lifetime to leverage India’s demographic advantage and turn it to demographic dividend. In a world driven by skills that are in perpetual beta, staying current is a necessary condition. Preparing a billion plus learners to learn, get skilled/reskilled and upskilled may be the kind of opportunity no country will ever have. 

 

Topics: Talent Management

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