Thought Leadership
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October 10, 2019
Earning your Place Every Day: Do you have the skills it takes to be relevant in today’s market?
Sundar Subramanian
President, Global Delivery, Mphasis.

Epochal transformations come unannounced. They take place in the blink of an eye, shaking up old approaches, systems, and processes. It is no surprise then that after the wide-reaching changes that the first three industrial revolutions ushered in, the arrival of the fourth is being met with solid preparation by organizations worldwide, across domains and industries.

Why? Because the dizzying rate at which a set of advanced technologies, including automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, are embedding themselves in workplaces, entertainment venues, and everyday life is a precursor of things to come. Technology is now so intricately intertwined with the tapestry of everyday life that it has become difficult to see it as something separate, much like the futile attempt to separate yolk from egg-white in scrambled eggs.

This is also why when people think of self-driving vehicles and automation, they think first of self-driving cars, not trucks. With the moving industry progressing along in its automation trajectory, what will happen to 1.9 million truck drivers in the US?.

The findings of a recent World Economic Forum report confirm this trend. It suggests that more than half of the world’s current workforce will need to be reskilled by 2022. While new technologies such as AI could enable the creation of about 133 million new jobs, about 75 million jobs that don’t fit an Industry 4.0 setting are expected to vanish across 20 major economies.

In such a scenario, organizations will face a two-fold challenge. First, how can they incentivize the creation of a workforce for the future that can thrive alongside machines, algorithms, and artificial intelligence? Second, how can companies meet the current requirement for a talent pool with the “right mindset” that can adapt quickly to rapidly evolving, new product needs?

Let us take a look at what companies are doing to address these challenges.

Creating pathways to new careers with reskilling

Online retailer Amazon has announced plans to spend USD 700 million over the next six years on reskilling its US workforce. The retail giant’s objective with the initiative is to help create what it calls “pathways to careers” for employees in health care, machine learning, computer science, cloud computing, manufacturing, and robotics. The reskilling program aims to cover about 100,000 employees, a third of Amazon’s US workforce, and will cost Amazon about USD 1,200 annually per employee. In addition, the program that is mostly free will not require employees to stay on at Amazon, but instead equip them to be skills-ready for any other opportunity they have been trained for.

Experts say the initiative will make it easier for the retail giant to both hire and retain employees. It will also, in all likelihood, help Amazon gain a crucial edge over rivals and improve its image as a future-ready and employee-focused company that is incentivizing its employees to inculcate the right reskilling mindset.

Incentivizing learning to limit external hiring

Similarly, American multinational company AT&T launched a web-based, multi-year USD 1 billion initiative called Future Ready last year. The program that includes online courses, collaborations with Udacity, Coursera, and other leading universities as well as a “career center” aims to help employees identify and train for future jobs. The initiative aims to enable company workers to assess their own skills, and then earn short-term badges and “nano degrees” that can take up to a year to complete. The program is said to have helped the company substantially prevent external hiring by enabling people with newly acquired skills move across functions and departments.

In another example, German multinational conglomerate Siemens too is investing more than USD 580 million annually on reskilling its workforce worldwide to ensure that they have relevant and marketable skills in the future.

Prepping for a digital future

This brings me to initiatives we are driving here at Mphasis. One of these, Talent Next is focused on equipping employees to embrace the digital pivot. The program provides multiple learning platforms that allow individuals to transform their skills in order to align to the new tech-era. With “learnability” at its core, the initiative enables employees the opportunity to avail of 10-15 training platforms each tagged to different skills, competency levels and geographies.

The fundamental aim is to ensure that the trainings foster a learning culture and help create a solution-centric mindset for employees. The overarching objective is to enable individuals to break free from traditional mindsets so that they can move to a digital mindset. This is because we know that what got us and other organizations to this place is not going to help us get to the future

It is clear to me that organizations everywhere are prioritizing the need to equip their workforce with the right mindset to be open to reskilling. As the various changes that a shift towards Industry 4.0 continue to gather momentum, businesses are aware of the need to incentivize their talent pool to acquire skills of relevance to a digital age. After all, if we as consumers are constantly re-evaluating the worth of a product in our hands, according to its cost, its value, its relevance to our need and time, so will our customers!