Along with The Great Resignation, organizations are facing yet another challenge-the skills gap conundrum. A vast majority of employers globally are struggling to find skilled workers, especially in high-demand areas.
On one hand, employees are forced to learn new skills to augment business transformations and grow their careers. On the other hand, this widening skills gap is one of the top challenges facing global leaders today. How can we fix this gap?
In an exclusive interaction with us, Raghav Gupta, Managing Director- India and APAC, Coursera shed light on what can be done to fix the skill transformation equation to prepare for the future.
Here are a few excerpts.
A balance of human skills and technical skills
The need for L&D has accelerated quite a bit with the pandemic especially as businesses adopt more digitization. A lot of new jobs that are coming up require digital and data skills. So in general, we have seen an explosion in the need for learning and development. Another thing that we have seen is that on the Coursera platform, in 2019, a lot of the top skills learned were functional skills such as technology skills, data science and so on. But in 2020, a lot of top skills were human skills such as communication, mindfulness, empathy among others. As WEF clearly states, the future is going to be a combination of human skills plus digital skills.
Also, earlier L&D used to be a CLO topic, then it became a CHRO topic, and today it is a CTO-CIO or even a CEO topic as well because the business implication of L&D has increased quite a bit.
Fast-tracking the skilling process by focusing on skills first learning
We work with close to 2700+ companies. And I would broadly categorize these learning programs into three buckets-open learning, guided learning, and skills first learning. In open learning, you provide learning as a resource to employees and let them decide what they want to learn. The main objective here is to engage people and give them employee benefits. In guided learning, you offer content related to particular fields such as data science or technology.
The third bucket, which is the skills first learning, is where we see the biggest impact happening. These programs are based on what critical skills are required for critical roles in a company and how do you build those skills. These are the programs which seem to have the highest learner adoption and highest business impact. Instead of focusing on metrics like learning hours and course completion, these programs focus on skill building, being able to measure skills, and measure business outcomes as well.
The trifecta of tech, data, and business skills
Top skills to stay relevant for the future will possibly fall into three broad buckets depending on the nature of the organization and the business they are in. They are in the broad domains of technology-software and cloud; data-data science and related skills; and the third broad group would be business and leadership skills-which would be about how do you think and strategy in a virtual world, how do you think about managing virtual teams, and human skills around how does one think about mental wellness and well-being when there is a lot of burnout and blurring demarcation between work and life.
Leadership Academy-helping organizations build human skills
The future for us is a combination of digital and human skills.
And the Leadership Academy is to support organizations in building the human skills. The intent is to provide teams across the organization with job-based skills development paths, and equip them with the growth mindset and human skills required to thrive in a digital economy. If you are an individual contributor, your purpose might be to lead yourself or you might be leading a team if you are a new manager or an organization if you are a leader of a specific business unit or you could simply be leading a specific transformation. So firstly it’s important to understand the employees’ role in the organization and, depending on that, the Leadership Academy helps companies develop the next generation of leaders and high-performance teams amid a rapidly changing workplace, remote work, and back-to-office transitions.
For instance, one of the objectives of the Leadership Academy is to help skill new managers to manage a team of people. A skills first learning program lays down the skills that any new manager needs to have- communication, team work, empathy, leadership skills, and so on. So a new manager can take this course to help build these skills.
Leadership Academy features 42 skill sets that include the likes of Emotional Intelligence, Interpersonal Skills, Change Management, and Organizational Development as a part of Lead Yourself, Lead Teams, Lead Organizations and Lead Transformation. This content is brought from top institutions such as ISB, Yale, North Western University and even top tier companies. Ultimately, it’s important to call out that leadership is not meant only for business leaders. In our roles, across the organization, everyone has a leadership role to play. And that’s the purpose the Leadership Academy serves.
Remote work and online learning can spread the opportunity of economic recovery
Today, there are three broad trends that are at play. Firstly, remote work is not going away after the pandemic and we will see more and more hybrid work being adopted. Secondly, as skills change due to digitization and technology, all working professionals like us need to learn these new skills. The pandemic has forced everybody to get used to online learning. All of this is opening new opportunities for individuals irrespective of where they are located. They can pick up digital skills from a platform like Coursera and work for any company located anywhere without having to change their location. So opportunities are now being spread to a much wider geography.
And for the company, the reverse is also true. It does not need to limit the talent that it wants to attract within one hour of its offices. The entire region becomes its talent pool. Thus remote work and online learning can spread the opportunity of economic recovery of the country a lot.
One of our studies found that there is a direct correlation between stock performance and skill proficiency of the employees. So leaders need to set up a strategy keeping this fundamental element in mind. They need to focus on skills-first type of learning programs.
And lastly, instead of looking at the ROI through fairly classic metrics like learning hours, focus on advanced metrics-being able to measure skill development, being able to benchmark it with your peers and competitors, and being able to measure the business outcome of the skill development you did.
Measure if your talent pipeline became stronger, did the cost of your talent acquisition go down, and did it reduce your attrition rates? That’s what leaders should be looking at.
Join us at the People Matters L&D Conference to learn from some of the best minds in the L&D space. Register now.