At the brink of yet another industrial revolution, the nature of work is quickly changing. In a large and rapidly growing economy like India, there is an acute shortage of qualified talent for existing jobs. On top of that, employers are struggling to fill new jobs in emerging fields like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Data Science. In addition, generations of millennials and Gen Z entering the workforce are craving change and excitement in not only jobs, but also in their learning and development. How can leading employers today cope with this nexus of challenges and be better prepared for the future?
At an exclusive event in New Delhi, Coursera and the Embassy of the United States, New Delhi invited senior business leaders across various industries to engage in a dialogue on how India can build a workforce for 2020. Rick Levin, senior advisor to Coursera moderated the session and was joined by Arun M Kumar, Chairman and CEO of KPMG India, Srikanth Balachandran, Global CHRO of Bharti Airtel and Amit Narain, Head of HR at Nestle. All three panelists shared their perspectives and recommendations on the topic of building India’s workforce, and addressed questions from the audience.
Key takeaways from the discussion:
“Embrace and adapt” is the mantra organizations need to adopt to prepare themselves for rapid digital transformation.
India has a vast workforce of skilled and semi skilled people, 50% of whom will need to learn new technologies to avoid becoming redundant. KPMG’s Arun M Kumar emphasized that whilst organizations acknowledge this dynamic landscape in India, they need to adapt their business models to it by ensuring that digital literacy is ubiquitous across their entire workforce. It is paramount for employers to assess what kind of new people to employ and what kind of training needs to be provided to existing employees. If you don’t adapt fast enough, you can run out of business very quickly.
Bharti Airtel’s Srikanth Balachandran added that the Indian job market is not the only thing that is changing with emerging technologies. Customers are changing too! And businesses need to embrace new go-to-market strategies adept with these technology-induced customer behaviours.
L&D functions need to think about learning on the go
Given that building capabilities for tomorrow is a top most priority for companies today, L&D strategies need to transform to become more relevant to the workforce of today. Nestle’s Amit Kumar pointed out that a majority of their workforce is composed of millennials and that to have widespread digital acceleration across the board, it is imperative to move away from traditional classroom learning and incorporate learning on the go. The more mobile learning becomes, higher is the adoption amongst a young workforce.
Balachandran added that India has almost 1 billion active mobile users, which makes the case for providing access to learning on the go even stronger. The focus of learning should not only be on the company and its core business, but also on digital and code. At some point, L&D functions will need to familiarize themselves with coding and use gamification as a means to make learning exciting.
The future of the workforce is all about digital, social and mobile
India will be the youngest country by 2020. Most organizations have struggled in the past to keep millennials engaged. The average millennial is expected to change jobs 13-15 times in the course of a career and only 30% of them feel that their employers are addressing education, skills, training requirements. Balachandran added his perspective on how companies can prepare L&D strategies to attract, retain and motivate millennials and employees. Anything digital, social and mobile comes naturally to these generations and instead of seeing that as a challenge, organizations should view their tech savviness and out of box thinking as a source of strength. Coursera provides one such way of digital, social and mobile learning but Kumar concluded with the thought that spreading digital literacy should not just be limited to today’s generation but should become part of the learning curriculum at the elementary school level itself.
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