The Path to Digital Skilling Given the dearth of skilled resources in the market, upskilling can be an important way to plug the massive demand-supply gap

By Krishna Kumar

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As the digital transformation trend ushers the world into a new era of growth, organizations today are grappling with the need to invest in new technologies and find the right talent to drive this change. The World Economic Forum expects at least 133 million new roles by 2022 emerging from the confluence of humans, machines, and algorithms. There will likely be an explosion in roles such as digital business analyst, data scientist, AI and ML engineer and digital marketing expert. Apart from strong technical skills, there will also be greater demand for skills such as negotiation, problem-solving, and creative thinking that aren't so easy to programme into a computer.

Given the dearth of skilled resources in the market, upskilling can be an important way to plug the massive demand-supply gap. 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.

The evolution of the talent pool too has played a vital part in this disruption as new hires now increasingly belong to the generation of digital natives who process information differently. To help this new cohort up-skill themselves, new policies have to be designed in an efficient manner which could get challenging.

Digital skilling within organizations

Given that enabling a digital mindset at the leadership level and up-skilling existing staff are just as important as hiring experienced talent from within the industry, here are some ways that companies can go about achieving this.

Investing in latest technology skills: Building employee skills in areas such as new and coming technology areas such as cloud, analytics cybersecurity can go a long way. There are also several high-quality online training courses that could help professionals build the right skills to get ahead.

Blending learning: Longer courses that use a blended-learning approach to teach role-based competencies provide an ideal learning approach for digital skilling. In fact, 89 per cent of companies say hands-on training very important as per the survey report on 'digital readiness' mentioned earlier. Employing various learning approaches for digital skilling with a combination of online video learning, instructor-led classrooms, and virtual learning sessions is extremely effective.

Structured approach: Training courses having an internal deadline where all employees are required to undergo at least a certain level of reskilling within a given time frame can bring in the required degree of seriousness. Certified digital courses provide an added advantage. A credit-based system can be deployed to track employees' progress.

Alignment with personal goals: Having training programmes linked to individual employees' career paths and designing personalized training programmes based on experience, capabilities and aspirations is important since they play a key role in keeping employees motivated.

Designing certain time-bound up-skilling programmes that are targeted towards immediate needs, and high-intensity gamification will allow a large number of employees to acquire these skills at their own pace.

With digital skilling being recognized as a key result area by the industry, investing in e-learning platforms, blended approach learning, micro or macro learning has become critical. According to Nasscom, the Indian IT-ITeS industry's digital talent base has grown exponentially with an installed base of about 260,000 professionals trained in cloud computing, 185,000 in AI and big data analytics, 185,000 in social media and mobile platforms and 170,000 in IoT. Yet, the industry expects the demand for 2.3-2.7 million digitally skilled professionals to grow to 2.3-2.7 million by 2023.

Therefore, digital skilling is set to become more important than ever. Getting it right will prove to be a big differentiator.

Krishna Kumar

Founder & CEO, Simplilearn

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