Millennials and Upskilling: The Changing Role of HR

HR has a critical role to play in ensuring that they are placing an adequate focus on designing effective programmes that are designed to help millennials upskill
Millennials and Upskilling: The Changing Role of HR
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Chief Business Officer & Co-founder, Simplilearn
4 min read
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With the advent of new technological disruptions in the form of artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, Internet-of-Things, blockchain and cloud, we’re at the cusp of a dramatic shift in the industry. This disruption is likely to have an impact on the job market too. A recent McKinsey Global Institute report titled, Jobs lost, jobs gainedWorkforce transitions in a time of automation, predicts that about 14 per cent of the global workforce or about 375 million workers will feel the need to switch their occupational categories by as early as 2030. To stay relevant in the changing industry scenario, they will need to equip themselves with new skills and find ways to completely redefine their career paths.

While the McKinsey report presents the global picture, we’re seeing this trend reflected in India as well. As per the Future of Jobs in India report by EY- Nasscom, by 2022 we can expect 9 per cent of the workforce will be deployed in new jobs that do not exist today. Also, 37 per cent of professionals will work in jobs that require radically different skill sets.

In order to ward off obsolescence, the workforce needs to learn new skills that will soon become mainstream. A World Economic Forum report predicts that almost 54 per cent of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling by 2022. Not just that, but about 35 per cent will likely require up to six months of additional training, and about 20 per cent are likely to require even more long-term training.

Millennials in the Workforce

The other big trend we’re seeing in the entry of millennials into the formal workforce. As India’s huge population of millennials grows up and joins the workforce, we’re starting to see their impact. As per a 2018 report by Deloitte India and the Retailers Association of India, millennials have emerged as the chief wage earners in India with a 47 per cent share in the working-age population. The millennial employees tend to behave differently compared with their predecessors. For instance, a survey by Censuswide revealed that 56 per cent of millennial respondents have job-hopped at least once in the last 16 months; and three times in the last 3-10 years. Interestingly, about 49 per cent of respondents saw job-hopping as an opportunity to learn new skills.

Role of HR

For HR professionals, the message is clear. Creating the right framework and mechanisms for upskilling of the workforce, especially millennials, needs to be a priority.

For an organization to stay competitive and thrive in the dynamic new world, building the right skills within the organization is crucial. This requires a two-pronged approach of: first, upskilling existing millennials within the company and second, strategically hiring millennials who have the right skills.

However, putting in place an effective learning and development strategy that can equip employees with the right skills isn’t an easy task. An ad-hoc approach that asks employees to simply take a few online courses isn’t the answer.

Given the pace of change, any rigid course structure that is long drawn and intensive is likely to become obsolete very soon. To be truly effective, course content development needs to take an agile approach, much like the software development process today where product roadmaps are dictated by user analytics.

Such an approach works particularly well for the millennial population since it puts greater control into the hands of the learner and allows them to adapt the programme such that it is aligned with their aspirations as well as the overall organisational objectives. Also, AI-driven analytics can help incorporate a high level of personalization and elements of gamification to ensure that learners are more motivated and engaged in the learning process. 

The format of training matters too. For instance, a blended approach to learning that balances self-study with interactivity works better than an online-only approach. Our own experience shows that with a well-designed blended learning approach, NPS rates soar over 70 per cent; while course completion rates cross 50 per cent, which is four to five times the prevailing industry statistics.

A ‘Digital Readiness’ survey conducted by Simplilearn in conjunction with People Matters magazine found that 87 per cent of organizations agreed that digital upskilling is a necessity; while 65 per cent acknowledged that they lacked resources and a vividly defined roadmap.

By all accounts, the fourth industrial revolution will favour those with strong digital skills. Given this, HR has a critical role to play in ensuring that they are placing an adequate focus on designing effective programsme that are designed to help millennials upskill themselves such that they are well-equipped to deliver value in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.

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