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India Inc leaders share insights on how businesses can bridge the gap and upskill to transform the workplace

The UpSkill India Summit 2022, hosted by
Great Learning and
Business Insider India, witnessed leading industry experts and thought leaders sharing insights on the need for upskilling India Inc. The discussions on how to decisively win the battle of building high-quality talent for the tech-transformed world took centre stage at this event.

Given the demands of the ever-evolving digital era, UpSkill India Summit 2022 reinforced the commitment of enterprise leaders, CHROs, and L&D Heads from top IT/ITES, BFSI, and retail companies keen on evolving and enhancing their strategies for new-age skills.

Bridging Talent Supply-Demand Gaps

While the workforce in India is massive to cater to global demands, supply-demand gaps and skills-parity in the workforce act as a challenge to the various industries. In his keynote address,
Sanjeev Singh, Chief Operating Officer, Wipro, suggested that educational institutions, governments, and industries should reimagine the curriculum to better suit the current age.

He emphasised the need for a laser focus on emerging opportunities in different sectors and training the workforce accordingly. He further added that as opposed to a traditional degree program, short courses or certifications benefit some people better and provide more value than longer-term degrees.

The only way you create a larger pool of talent is by absorbing people. And the only people available to be absorbed are those who are not part of the pool.

Sanjeev Singh, Chief Operating Officer, Wipro at UpSkill India Summit 2022

It is also crucial that companies tap into the unexposed talent pool in rural areas and make the IT sector more inclusive to accommodate those who may face language barriers. In the thought-provoking panel discussions, speakers from prominent organisations examined several ideas, strategies, and opportunities for upskilling.
Business Insider India’s Ashwin Raghunath moderated the first panel discussion, “Upskilling India for Transformation,” featuring

  • Rituparna Dasgupta, Talent & Development Leader, Intuit
  • Nidhi Pant, Senior Associate Director, Capability Development, KPMG India
  • Vinutha Rao, SVP & Head, Talent Acquisition & Talent Development, Digital Business, HCL Technologies
  • Srilata Kolachana, Director, Learning and Development, APAC SBU, CGI
  • Mohan Lakhamraju, CEO, Great Learning

India Inc leaders share insights on how businesses can bridge the gap and upskill to transform the workplace

The discussion sought to highlight the strategic aspects of upskilling – by examining its current state in India’s enterprises and identifying the bottlenecks that industries faced in rolling out successful upskilling initiatives. One of the key takeaways from this discussion was the need for businesses to adopt agility in their approach and be aware of the changing face of technology and market demands.

EdTech companies like Great Learning invest heavily in R&D and innovation for their platforms. Technology augments the teaching process and helps efficiently track critical metrics to deliver the best outcomes.

[Investments are] going into R&D, innovation, and building technology and analytics, building how to measure, monitor, derive insights from the learning process, how to track learner behaviour, and how to augment and engage learners better at scale so that the burden of doing all of this is not one instructor.

Mohan Lakhamraju, CEO, Great Learning at UpSkill India Summit 2022

Mohan noted that there was a “behaviour change” in the ecosystem where upskilling is now being used as a retention mechanism in enterprises to retain talent and reduce attrition. He added that we are in a golden period, and while transformation is underway, Covid has accelerated the pace of adoption, investment, and innovation.

And even as we adapt to the transformation in this space, two themes that need to be addressed here, according to Nidhi Pant, are context (the rationale behind the upskilling exercise) and secondly, curating the right experience for the learner to bring about the best impact and returns from the process. “The learning experience is something that we really need to catch up on if we are not doing enough,” she added.

Speaking of how enterprises can work with educational institutions to build capabilities, Srilata Kolachana said, “We have CSR initiatives where we work with schools, and it is a great way to build talent. But how about our think tank working with those engineering students for these NGO projects? If we are doing these kinds of linkages, then, without too much investment, we are building capability. Because we are giving mentoring support, and we are giving capability-building effort. We are putting that in place. So I think we have to look at the entire value chain holistically. I don’t believe that it is some kind of blame game — that they are not coping up or we are not there. I believe that we also have to do a lot to build that capability.”

One of the crucial areas that Inuit’s Rituparna Dasgupta highlighted was finding the balance between hiring externally versus focusing on retaining talent and training them, which would be a far more cost-effective method. She further explained that Inuit has a strong partnership with academia to help bridge the gap, and that rests on three pillars — connection with the company, the impact of work, and helping them upskill within the organization.

HCL’s Vinutha Rao seconded that thought, that while the importance of academia versus vocational courses is widely debated, academia is crucial since it builds the foundation. Still, it is more important to shape the ‘curiosity mindset.’ She added, “If you can give a foundation training which builds a continuous learning attitude and curiosity mindset, I guess we got it right, and that’s what will take us in the next decade.”

The other key theme highlighted by the panellists was the importance of ensuring reach and expanding the availability of upskilling initiatives.

This was followed by the second panel discussion, “Enterprise Upskilling: Doing it Right,” featuring:

  • Thirumala Arohi Mamunooru, SVP & Head, Education, Training & Assessment, Infosys
  • Anurag Seth, Former VP & Head, Talent Transformation, Wipro
  • Arvind Kumar, AVP & Head, Talent Development Digital Business, HCL Technologies
  • Bharaniram Bhaskarbhatta, Senior Program Manager, ACES & Training, RBS, Amazon

This discussion was moderated by
Ritesh Malhotra, Head of Enterprise, Great Learning.

India Inc leaders share insights on how businesses can bridge the gap and upskill to transform the workplace

Ritesh sought to understand the deployment and implementation challenges that enterprises faced. From boardroom concerns regarding upskilling to ensuring the adoption of strategic upskilling initiatives, the panel shed light on the roll-out issues that learning and development leaders need to address while planning their upskilling routines.

Furthermore, he mentioned how Great Learning is working with these challenges by providing a platform that connects enterprises with ready-to-hire talent. He explained, “We’re building two new models, Hire Train, Deploy, and what we can do with universities at an early stage. Superset is essentially India’s largest hiring automation platform. Between GL and Superset, we have millions of learners on the platform. We’ve [added] thousands of colleges, and Superset last year rolled out around lakhs of offers just through the platform.

Whatever you could do going to colleges, visiting them, and making offers…now you can do that remotely. We have the colleges, we have the students, and we have the ability for you to choose them remotely. All sorts of assessments can be run — you can interview them remotely and make them offers remotely. So the end-to-end lifecycle of us just training has expanded to hiring as well.

Ritesh Malhotra, Head, Enterprise, Great Learning

Thirumala Mamunooru spoke about how Infosys has integrated ed-tech into the business’ DNA. His business is now identifying skills and recalibrating them frequently, giving them a clear understanding of skills relevant today and what might be required in the future. Also, by understanding the needs and motivations of the learner, they were able to optimise their upskilling initiatives.

Bharaniram Bhaskarbhatta of Amazon highlighted the challenge they faced when looking for the right service provider for upskilling employees, since most of them either provided a trainer to deliver on the needs or provided content but lacked a combination of both, which was a huge deterrent for them. “If I would go to a service provider, then I would want the entire thing to be given to me. Otherwise, if I have to put that entire effort again, it doesn’t make sense for me to go to the service provider.”

HCL’s Arvind Kumar emphasised that talent development should not be an isolated element but must be in line with the business. Arvind also gave the audience insights on the company’s internal skills-mapping methodology that they use to gauge talent, which helped them chart the individual’s upskilling course.

Wipro’s Anurag Seth shared insights on the ‘buy vs build’ dilemma when it comes to talent management. He noted that enterprises that choose to ‘buy’ upskilling packages might not be able to access all the skills that they consider critical, thus drawing upon the need to ‘unbundle’ the skills packages. This would enable the enterprises to deeply customise the programs to best suit their business needs. “Because the way their programs are structured and professors are structured, I know that in discussion with Great Learning, a lot of these things are changing, and they are amenable in some of the programs we’ve done with you (sic), but I think that has to fundamentally change.”

As Enterprise India transforms to adopt the digital paradigm to stay in step with evolving technology, finding skilled manpower to foster and innovate remains a challenge. The UpSkill India Summit 2022 highlighted the challenges in this domain and strategies that enterprise learning & development leaders could adopt to fast-track their upskilling initiatives.

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