13 Nov 2019 20:23 IST

It’s time for newer models of education and training

Corporates need to find new ways to get the best talent that can become billable from Day One

Much speculation surrounds today’s job market. While some people say there are not enough jobs for the youth of tomorrow, others are talking about the quality of the talent pool. With AI / ML and and the digital economy influencing every aspect of business in India, skills related to these areas have become crucial as never before. It is time to focus on preparing future job-seekers for these new job roles as corporates transition to a digital business eco-system facilitated by emerging technologies.

Challenges of today’s job market

Let’s take a look at a recent job report and go on to evaluate some of the challenges flagged, based on the findings.

The new ‘Annual Employability Survey 2019’ report by Aspiring Minds reveals that 80 per cent of Indian engineers are not really fit for jobs in the knowledge economy, and only 2.5 per cent of them possess tech skills in artificial intelligence (AI) that industry requires. This indicates that unemployability is a bigger problem than mere unemployment. With the nature of jobs changing, corporates are keen to hire candidates who are the best fit for a role and can hit the ground running, so to speak. The decline in placements for fresh engineering graduates is proof that such candidates are hard to come by, as most graduates just have conceptual knowledge but lack the ability to apply this knowledge in an operational context.

A survey by Mercer Mettl, which assessed decision-making professionals, highlighted that despite increased pay, organisations still struggle with hiring ‘quality talent’ with in-demand skills. Today, the employable engineers lack a problem-solving mindset as also the collaborative and networking abilities required to work effectively in teams.

Apart from all these challenges, organisational decision makers and recruiters are increasingly concerned that those hired nowadays rarely possess the ability to communicate effectively in the business context.

The learning curve

On a deeper analysis of the key concerns of employers, it’s evident that it is not just a corporate issue. It is a larger concern where the education system, corporations as well as job-seekers will have to play a more proactive role.

The present educational system does not address the complete talent needs of industry, especially for roles in new emerging technologies, even though some are in the process of upgrading their curriculum. Future job seekers must look beyond degrees — they ought to seek hybrid or online training that would help them secure a job and become employable upon graduation. If this is unaddressed, unemployability will continue to be a major issue.

New model in the offing

There has been a key shift from organisations investing in training freshers to students paying for upskilling / training programmes on their own. Corporates are restricting their investments aimed at reskilling core team members/employees. Alternatively, they are looking for different skill-sets in the new recruits. They now want the prospective candidates to be trained first so that they can directly recruit the ones with multiple skills and a higher learning quotient.

Those who are willing to upskill to stay relevant in the VUCA world and climb the career ladder quickly opt to undergo such trainings either alongside their engineering degrees or while pursuing their jobs.

These training modules should offer flexibility in the teaching and learning environments. They should support the new-age learners with highly experienced instructors, a globally acclaimed curriculum and multimedia specialists who can help translate pedagogy into business relevance. It is not ideal if the learner only understands the concepts theoretically but cannot apply them in a real-world environment. Conceptual learning needs to support contextual applications.

WileyNXT Accelerator is one such model available to professionals who want to reskill themselves and master the art of problem-solving, critical thinking and collaborative skills. It is also for engineering graduates who go through extensive training in emerging technologies ensuring job-readiness right from day one at work. The curriculum enables extensive training for each candidate in the desired subject, instilling job-ready critical skills. It helps them master conceptual knowhow and demonstrate contextual skills. Each of these micro-learning courses is designed to meet 21st century new-age skills like design thinking, product management and story-telling with data among others.

Many ways of reskilling

As internal training alone does not add much value to one’s credentials, professionals are increasingly opting for micro-certifications from recognised educational platforms. Premium educational institutes, such as IIMs, are tying up with partners who can strengthen their capabilities to offer these new-age joint training programmes.

Globally, a popular model is that of corporates collaborating with an online programme management partner, who can train a desired number of candidates in a range of pre-assigned skill-sets. Such a model can create the right kind of talent pool for today’s new-age businesses.

Professionals are beginning to realise the huge skills gap they are facing, and are willing to re-skill on their own; and this is creating newer models of training. Today’s Industry 4.0 world demands that each of us has to upskill and relearn every four to five years if we are to stay job relevant.

(The writer is Managing Director, Wiley India.)