92% Indians Believe There Are Skills Gap: Survey Udemy's recently published Global Skills Gap report's key takeaways from the Indian context are quite surprising

By Irwin Anand

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According to Deloitte, the half-life of skills has decreased to only about five years. For a career lifespan of about 50 years, we will need to reinvent ourselves about 10 times. Digital transformation and automation are further propelling this trend and changing how we work. With that reality, individuals must acknowledge the importance of keeping their skill sets up to date.

The skills gap over the world has been widening year after year. Consequently, in India, it was found that while 92 per cent of individuals believed that there was a skills gap and 76 per cent believed it affected them at a personal level. This included Indians talking about how online courses as well as corporate professional development programmes offered by their companies played a crucial element in helping them upskill for future job roles.

According to a report by McKinsey, machines were already enabling extensive technological progress, making many employees who didn't possess skills necessary to manage change at the workplace, redundant. However, with COVID-19, the process has only been propelled forward. Employees themselves are aware of the harsh reality that they will need to face if they don't upskill for future job roles. Moreover, organizations now need to tackle the skills gap more than ever, a business problem many have not yet addressed. In India, almost 94 per cent say it's important for their employer to encourage and support a "constant learning/training culture" in the organization, however insights and actions taken by organizations are very few.

So how does narrowing the skills gap enable competitive advantage?

The swift shift of work from manual labor to technological advancement is old news. We have acknowledged the have and the have-nots, the importance of skilling, and how employees are facing the rapid burden of automated machines doing their tasks for them. What counts now is how we address it. Why does upskilling in any firm act as a competitive advantage for their firm? The answer is simple—a culture of continuous learning in a constantly evolving job market spells success for the organization. Upskilling and retaining talent is a double-sided arrow—you get the best of your employees and don't spend additional money in training new ones.

Gone are the days when only college education could equip individuals to deal with the challenges in the workplace. While 82 per cent Indians say that college education has not equipped them with the skills they need to succeed in today's job market, 84 per cent say that skills are changing so rapidly that their current knowledge is becoming obsolete.

Udemy recently published a Global Skills Gap report, and its key takeaways from the Indian context were quite surprising.

  • Two-thirds responded that all four skill types are equally valued by their employers: Technical and digital skills (68 per cent), leadership and management skills (66 per cent), productivity skills (66 per cent), soft skills (63 per cent).

  • Indian employees learn mostly through online courses (44 per cent) and corporate professional development (34 per cent). The majority of Indian employees (97 per cent) are excited about learning new skills and transitioning to a new job one day.

  • The majority (92 per cent) also say that there is so much competition in the job market that they need to be constantly upskilling.

  • 82 per cent agree that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking away job roles and they need to reskill to stay relevant.

  • 76 per cent think that AI/automation will be able to do their work within the next five years.
  • 91 per cent have had to learn new skills to do their job effectively.

  • 86 per cent confirm that their employer provides professional development while 61 per cent say they would leave their current job if that wasn't the case.

  • About half (55 per cent) confess they have been dishonest in order to get a job or a promotion.

The skills gap is a growing concern, however, most Indian employees are extremely confident in their ability to learn new skills and be successful in the future. With COVID-19 and lockdowns being imposed all over the world, many companies have already got in the race to skill their employees. We hope to see a positive trend in the way organizations skill and retain their talent in the days to come as well.

Irwin Anand

MD, Udemy India

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