The Need To Bridge Gap Between Institutional Learning And Corporate Expectations | #education | #technology | #training

India’s talent pool constitutes a major chunk of its 1.4-billion population with approximately 1.5 million graduating each year with engineering and MBA degrees. Yet, the annual India Skill Report over years has suggested that less than 50 percent of them are employable, adding to the increasing rate of unemployment.

While campuses equip students with the necessary academic know-how, learners are often unaware of the hands-on skill sets they need to pursue in order to stay relevant in the workforce. Learning on the job is a common trope to discount the lack of skills in fresh graduates. While this results in a lack of proper transition of skills from the campus to the corporate segment, it is amenable to executive education in the corporate sphere.

Higher education has been experiencing a gradual shift since the introduction of Industry 5.0. The goal of Industry 5.0 is to rehumanise technology. It is all about using the best of digital technology for increased automation and scale. It’s improving a hybrid workforce’s human intelligence in terms of creativity, empathy, and emotional quotient. The push towards effectively arming the workforce with the right toolkit of skills has corporates taking up the training baton.

There has been a significant change in the field, both in terms of methodology and content. The pandemic has hastened an already demonstrable movement in teaching-learning techniques towards digital classrooms. This is an especially beneficial trend since it allows for the development of effective methods of workforce interactions to provide a comprehensive approach to learning.

Gaps in essential skills: From academia to workplace

There has been an increase in the number of high school and college graduates, but this hasn’t translated into higher employability. Top companies are adopting new strategies to recruit people, focusing on things like communication, agility, proactiveness and empathy. Such skills help candidates stand out versus those who only bring technical abilities to the table.

According to the results of a McKinsey poll, businesses are lacking the talent they will require in the future. The poll further confirms that skill building, rather than hiring, is the most effective way to close skill gaps in the next five years. We’ve seen a shift from the quintessential Learning Management System to focused upskilling efforts by corporates.

They’ve acknowledged that enabling the learning efforts of its workforce directly impacts business outcomes and growth targets. Keeping sustainable growth at its core, corporates are increasingly looking at online EdTech providers for business learning as an intentional strategic move towards building a robust and future ready workforce.

Mapping employee skills to corporate expectations

Academic institutions are cognizant of the limitations and are revamping their syllabus to suit the evolving workspace needs. With digital acceleration, India is currently experiencing sophisticated data analysis and mathematical ability faces the biggest demand supply gap in talent.

In order to tackle this, technical skills like project management, data analytics, AI/ML and soft skills like leadership, critical thinking, decision making and adaptability are finding their way into the upskilling bouquet endorsed by large organisations.

Businesses need to adopt a planned approach towards employee development that reinforces their personal growth plans and contributes to overall business outcomes. Virtual learning options in executive education have made learning more accessible and in the natural flow of work.

Change in learning trends: Adaptability and efficient EdTech partners

Today, corporates are aggressively partnering with EdTech firms to close the gap between their expectations and reality by leveraging digital learning solutions. These solutions have equipped their workforce with the right skills for the digital-led new work ecosystems resulting in multi-fold ROI and significant cost savings. About 68 percent have invested in reskilling and upskilling modules to deal with organisational changes, and another 65 percent have trained personnel on new technologies to improve their innovation quotient.

During the lockdown, 43 percent of businesses decided it was the ideal opportunity to add extra courses and training material to their employee skill sets. Today, corporate training is embedded in the fabric of a company’s culture.

Evolution through continuous learning as the way forward

As corporates and institutes work towards bridging the talent gap, they must –

Identify key skills required in the workplace: A diagnostic of the organisation’s current employee capabilities will analyse the workforce’s skill set and help determine future training needs. This starts with comparing what the organisation already has and what skills it requires to meet business outcomes.

Close the skill gap: Companies must decide how to address gaps in their workforce. They must choose from a mixture of approaches, for example hiring and reskilling employees. When it comes to which approach to take with each gap, the decision includes two requirements: how best to fill those gaps in the workforce and how to reskill employees.

Blend of hard skills and soft skills: A balance between human work and machine work will be established as the new job market evolves. The India Skills Report 2022 states that 29 percent of current tasks are performed by machines, robots, AI, and algorithms, with an expected increase to 42 percent by 2022. In order to remain competitive and relevant, while chasing the threat of obsolescence, organisations must focus on providing a blend of hard skills to tackle new technologies and soft skills to tackle global changes in the corporate world.

Create training capabilities and build strategic partnerships: Companies should look at strategic partners who can create an ecosystem of learning for the workforce. The reskilling curriculum should blend in-person and digital opportunities. Skills should be aligned to actual business projects to map impact.

Inculcating a mindset of LifeLongLearning: Reskilling isn’t a one-time activity, organisations should encourage periodic refreshes at the workplace to ensure the effectivity of on-the-job training and staying relevant in the workforce.

The author Minaxi Indra is president at upGrad for Business. Views expressed are personal.

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