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How Start-ups in The Corporate Ecosystem Could help bridge the Skill Gap in Today's Workforce Here's How Start-ups are Producing Skilled Labourforce

By Ankush Puri

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IBM's Institute for Business Value along with the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a study to evaluate India's skill challenge. It revealed that 73% of India's education leaders believed that new technologies were disrupting higher education. 59% of those surveyed found it difficult to maintain relevant curriculum, 52% found teaching resources were inadequate.

Let's examine the above mentioned points. Disruptions in technology and business models have altered the face and form of traditional value chains. These changes are so rapid and so frequent that corporates are left with no time to align. If they need to stay ahead in the game, they need to think ahead of the customer and competitors. The model is simple – "Hire the best, hire now, perform now'.

The bigger the size of the organization, higher are the stakes and a single slip could mean years of work gone down the drain or few more years of work to recover your position. Indian talent has been in demand all over the world because of its output and its cost advantage.

Look at this zone as a road where traffic is moving at a super high speed. You get rewarded well, but once you are in, there is no time; you are expected to deliver, to perform. Corporates, very often, are caught in a trap of realizing the importance of reskilling but do not have the liberty to free their resources from the current projects. At times, the realization sets in when its people are already impacted and they need to seek services of organizations like Lee Hecht Harrison to reskill and support impacted candidates through their Career transition.

The ecosystem

The Academic Sector on the other hand is unable to catch pace with this super fast corridor. The best talent (teachers) is not rewarded enough to stay with the academic sector. The best would move on to an assignment that is more glamorous or rewarding. So this sector moves slowly. It is unable to keep pace with the super-fast, ever evolving industry corridor. Thus, it keeps trailing and the gap keeps widening.

To balance the eco system, it's essential to have a buffer layer, at least until the academic sector evolves and moves fast enough to support the industry or the industry works out solutions to their talent skilling and reskilling, perhaps with support from professional staffing organizations like Adecco.

This buffer layer is the Start Ups that have started mushrooming and with the support from the government and a supportive eco system are not under pressure to survive.

Stake in the economy

In the 2015 Union Budget, (SETU) Self Employment and Talent Utilization was introduced to support all the aspects of startups right from their seed financing stage to their growth stage. The government is encouraging creation of "innovation labs' or "incubation centres' in large national and foreign universities. Optimists expect that the government may roll out a Rs. 2000 crore fund to provide seed capital to startups related to IT and biotechnology.

In 2015, India reported 3100 startups, just behind US, UK and Israel, according to the NASSCOM report. 2017 closed with a record $13.7 billion being invested into the Indian startup ecosystem across 820 deals. At this rate, startups will generate almost 2.5 lakh jobs in the next five years in India alone.


What is important to note is that the pace of Start Ups and the flexibility they have is a good ground for students to step in, experiment with new technologies or skills, develop behavioural competencies and get used to the ways of the market. Some fantastic homegrown success stories, gives ample confidence to students and encourages them to join startups or even go the entrepreneurial way.

Startups are flourishing in India not only in the field of internet but in other fields as well. Educational tech startups are a hot favourite with investors, looking at the potential of digitizing education content in the near future. Big data for analytics, healthcare, beauty and fitness, biotechnology, hotel chains, food delivery, medical supplies, auto service are a few other sectors waiting to touch new heights.

By virtue of the life cycle, start ups are more tolerant, flexible and experimental which gives people time and space to learn, apply and master new skills. There are only 3 options that a talented professional sees here:

  1. Grow with the start up – meaning you have struck gold

  2. Growth options outside – pursue opportunities with other organizations

  3. Create a new organization – move the entrepreneurial way

Either of the options, you have a resource, who is scaling a different level for a given skill set, or has mastered a new skill set/sets and will eventually contribute to the corporate eco system.

Ankush Puri

Director, Lee Hecht Harrison

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