Article: Upskilling the next gen workforce: The IBM way

Learning & Development

Upskilling the next gen workforce: The IBM way

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Chaitanya N Sreenivas (Chinni), Vice President and HR Head for IBM India and South Asia shares how IBM is investing in continuous learning of its employees.
Upskilling the next gen workforce: The IBM way

Learning matters. Beyond keeping things fresh to sustain professional creativity and passion, learning keeps people relevant in our ever-changing world. It is arguably the best job security tool one could have to achieve higher levels, honing new skills and seek promotions and raises at work. Organizations cannot grow if their employees are not learning and their skills aren’t aligned with the changing business demands. It is important for organizations to create an environment that encourages learning. 

Speaking on the need for organizations to encourage continuous learning, Chaitanya N Sreenivas (Chinni), Vice President and HR Head for IBM India and South Asia states, “To succeed, organizations need to offer compelling new experiences, establish new focus, build new expertise and devise new ways of working. Business leaders face a stark choice: Either digitally reinvent their enterprises, or watch their businesses decay.”

It is in this direction that IBM developed ‘Your Learning’, a powerful suite of learning technologies platform that can accelerate the knowledge curve for any medium- to large-size corporation. It can help every employee learn quicker, learn smarter, and help the company stay agile and top-notch.

Enabling efficient learning through personalization

While organizations around the globe are investing heavily to stay ahead of rapidly evolving technologies, companies need to change the way learning happens. It is important for companies to address skill gaps and how can they shed a ponderous, top-down approach for learning to be instead an efficient, flexible, and personalized experience for every individual in an organization.

Another challenge is that skills required have changed and the pace of change is much faster than what it used to be. Today, skills are measured by a combination of domain and broad technology expertise. Also, it is imperative to have the ability to learn coupled with a positive mindset for growth.  

Through its ‘Your Learning’ platform, IBM creates a personalized learning environment for each employee, providing a 24x7 interface that responds quickly, flexibly and creatively to the changing technical and business landscape. It provides search, browse, career roadmaps and plus customized learning channels. The cognitive ability of the platform is personalized based on the current role and most importantly it also addresses the passion & aspirations for future roles. 

Thus by offering compelling new experiences, establishing new focus, building new expertise and devising new ways of working, IBM designs and drives continuous learning.

Chaitanya adds, “The best companies personalize the best learning possibilities to each individual to help them grow and succeed.”

In this direction, IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities make smarter recommendations, improving search results, providing ever better learning suggestions to employees. The ‘Your Learning’ platform also taps into the power of social media, so that friends, colleagues and like-minded strangers contribute to help learners find what they need to progress and succeed. Through Watson’s cognitive power, IBM’s Your Learning can ask what each individual is interested in, see what those with similar likes and interests are consuming, then offer relevant suggestions. Cognitive analysis can help reveal unexpected career opportunities based on its understanding of each worker’s learning needs and desires. The personalized experience gives learners ownership over building their career, putting their destiny in their hands.

Also, IBM’s Learning Experience Platform brings together formal and informal learning –both inside and outside the enterprise –and puts it at everyone’s fingertips. Every learner sees personalized development opportunities on his/her homepage, which is intuitive and visually appealing. 

Constant reskilling is a continuous process

When it comes to re-booting and refreshing your learning strategy, Chaitanya believes that it’s a continuous process as IBM is aligned to technology shifts and market needs. 

“It becomes imperative for us to re-skill and up-skill our workforce in new technologies and keep them on par with ever-changing skills requirements. Skills are transforming at the same speed as technologies. The need of the hour is to maintain the pace by constantly reskilling,” he adds.

In addition, the organization also provides an opportunity & platform not just for Learning, but also practicing & applying it. 

Leveraging learning to build an inclusive talent workforce

Another advantage that continuous learning affords is building an inclusive talent workforce. For IBM, bringing together an inclusive talent workforce to technology is of prime importance. Identifying and promoting diversity into technology workspace is something it is investing in. Starting from the school and university level and targeting girl students to help build a pipeline, the organization has also instituted specific programs and training modules designed especially for women to enhance their skills in technology, especially for those who have taken a break due to various reasons. 

Chaitanya adds, “IBM is committed towards bridging the skill gap and empowering women with STEM Skills. Opportunities for women in STEM are driven by inclusion across career environments, empowerment to think freely, and the ability for women to bring their "whole selves" to work.”

In this direction, IBM recently announced significant collaborations across the country that will advance the skills and careers of more than 200,000 (2 lakh) female students in STEM fields. The organization believes that public-private partnership is the key here. Government bodies, educational institutions and corporates alike need to come forward and drive collaborative programs that can encourage women students to take up STEM-related subjects.

Further, the emergence of “new collar jobs”- jobs that combine technical skills in areas such as cloud, cognitive, security, data science, etc., will require a deep knowledge base rooted in higher education. This is an indication that we need to keep updating our academic curriculums to ensure that we have the right talent mix for a digital-driven economy. 

In conclusion, Chaitanya adds, “Ultimately, as organizations embrace new technologies, it will become more and more imperative to build a future-ready workforce in an extremely demanding and competitive environment.” And there is no doubt that continuous learning will be the most important tool to do so. 


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Topics: Learning & Development, Skilling, #SkillUp

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