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Want to be future work ready? Be open to change and upskilling

The adoption of digital technologies in India has been accelerating. Artificial intelligence, robotics and dependence on machine learning are driving the future of work

By Ratna Mehta

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change – Albert Einstein

Change is the only constant – the pandemic has changed a lot of notions on the best way to work. The adoption of digital technologies in India has been accelerating. Artificial intelligence, robotics and dependence on machine learning are driving the future of work.

Want to be future work ready

Source: Future of Jobs 2020, WEF

Key changes anticipated

As Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) rightly said that any kind of job is going to have a digital component, though not everyone needs to be Computer Scientist. The future of work is quickly moving towards

hybrid workspaces, inclusive workforce and higher emphasis on skills like analysis, problem-solving and digital adoption:

1. Tech empowered flexible, hybrid workplaces

· Investment in technology such as video conferencing, collaboration tools to enable remote work

· Increased data security management

· The emergence of the blended model – WFH, work from the office and/or hybrid model

TCSexpects only 25% of its employees to work from the office by 2025 and announced a blended approach for employees to return to work post covid through satellite offices or “third place”5

2. Shift in key skills required in the workplace

· Analytical and creative thinking, technology design and soft skills like problem-solving are some of the emerging skills

· Ability to handle online / technology adoption

· 48% of Indian companies are implementing upskilling/reskilling programs1

3. Emerging job roles1

· Emerging: AI/ML specialists, Data scientists, IoT specialists, Project Managers

· Becoming redundant: Data entry, assembly workers, customer service workers, assembly line workers

In construction, off-the-shelf robotic applications are getting utilized to work in parallel to manual labour. E.g., WALT, a robot developed by Hyderabad based ‘Endless Robotics’ can paint walls about 30 times quicker than a human3

4. Freelance and Gig work

· At present, India has a pool of ~15 million freelance workers staffed in projects across IT, HR and designing2

· Comfort with remote work has also led to businesses realizing the value of freelancers

· Hired on a ‘per project’ or ‘per gig’ basis, either directly or through emerging Gig platforms like Upwork, Truelancer and Guru

· Key industries hiring Gig workers: FMCG, BFSI, Manufacturing, Technology and BPO, Services4

· Key gig roles – Customer support, transaction operations, admin and support roles4

5. Upskilling and reskilling through micro-credentials and certifications

· The emergence of anytime, anywhere self-learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy and Indian platforms like Unacademy, Simplilearn

· The emergence of online skilling companies like Bridgelabs and Intellipaat, which are providing industry-specific skill training to make students job-ready

· Platforms offering online degree courses from top universities like Upgrad making degrees more accessible to Indian youth

· Recent graduates and mid-career changers can develop entry-level, digital job skills in as little as 35 to 70 hours (or 1-2 months with ten learning hours per week). On the other hand, someone with no degree or technology experience can be job-ready in 80 to 240 hours (or 2-6 months with ten learning hours per week)

What are the challenges faced to become future-ready?

As most companies put skill development at the forefront, some of the key challenges we face in India include a lack of focus on employment-ready digital skills at the graduate and postgraduatelevels. Skilling and certification companies are attempting to solve the same through their course offerings. However,the scarcity of good trainers and relevant content is still a concern.

Access to the internet to attend live skilling sessions/view recorded sessions has been a concern, though being resolved with the onset of Jio.

Government programs need to be supplemented by increased offering from private sector companies. The pace of unemployment due to irrelevant skills in the workforce needs to be met with the pace of training new-age skills to arrest the unemployment rate

What do we need to do to adapt to the future of work?

1. Large scale skilling in AI, robotics, and automation-related roles for the existing workforce

– New-age companies like Bridgelabs, SOAL (School of Accelerated Learning)and Skill-Lync provide focused courses in advanced engineering to students in AI and automation

2. School and university level course change to focus on 21st-century skills: K12 and graduation. The new education act is the starting point in the right direction

3. A hybrid model for training: Live sessions, pre-recorded sessions and learning centres

4. Social security cover for gig economy workers, already initiated by government under ‘Code on Social Security’

What do we need to do to adapt to the future of work?

1. Large scale skilling in AI, robotics, and automation-related roles for the existing workforce

– New-age companies like Bridgelabs, SOAL (School of Accelerated Learning)and Skill-Lync provide focused courses in advanced engineering to students in AI and automation

2. School and university level course change to focus on 21st-century skills: K12 and graduation. The new education act is the starting point in the right direction

3. A hybrid model for training: Live sessions, pre-recorded sessions and learning centres

4. Social security cover for gig economy workers, already initiated by government under ‘Code on Social Security’

The Future of Work will be here quicker than we expect; our best take right now is to adapt and be ready.

Source: BW Business World

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