Beyond reskilling: Investing in resilience for uncertain future

The sudden change due to the lockdown brings us to the main question - whether to reskill workforce to face the challenge or learn to adapt to the situation.
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Climate change and the resultant natural calamities have always thrown major shocks globally, with its uncertain and unknown challenges, until COVID-19 pandemic struck the planet with the “Fear of the unknown” and deeply disturbed our ecosystem.

Here was a new challenge for which there was no answer, nor was anyone remotely prepared. Governments across the globe, life and businesses were caught unaware, stumped by its magnitude, gasping for response, as much as the breathlessness that COVID was expected to cause in humans.

The sudden change in life, lockdown, social distancing, and an uncertain future brought new paradigms in managing businesses, and the moot question being whether to reskill to face the challenge or learn to adapt to the situation – do we invest in resilience for uncertain futures?

Case for investing in resilience for uncertain future

There was no ready answer – business managers / owners had to begin a new journey of handling tasks remotely, while not compromising productivity and efficiency.

Over the last two decades, growth had always highlighted the augmentation of resources as a means to attain scale and be resilient in the face of uncertainty. On the contrary, remote working needed a fully trained and independent contributor, while businesses till now had always relied on teams.

The famous Indian art of making things work, “Jugaad” as we call it, did work in adapting to the new methods of engaging workforce for automation-based industry, while on the other hand it brought forth the weaknesses and shortfalls in the way workforce systems were created and utilised across other sectors.

An increasing dependence on automation had already enhanced the need for reskilling for better utilisation of workforce.

However, resilience in the face of uncertain future i.e., the global pandemic, coupled with the constancy of change it was bringing about, was a completely new scenario, not just for the businesses but for the global economy as a whole.



Think beyond reskilling

We need to think beyond reskilling and create systems which can absorb such surprises and abrupt changes. Investing in a resilient approach to workforce management, which can engage employees as a set of individual contributors, with the ability to adapt to work-from-anywhere is the need of the hour, given the radically changing business environment.

Over the last decade, the transformation of jobs from the unorganised sector to the organised sector have increased the numbers in employment, which has been touted as an increase in employment, but has not reduced joblessness in India.

We need to be more transparent in our practices in manpower development to ensure an increase in jobs and skills, while at the same time being resilient.

Need of the hour - Rehaul current education system to align to industry expectations

Our current education system, which has been mechanically producing young graduate workforce, does not contribute to the creation of jobs, and the thought of a just-in-time hire from a university is still a myth.

Organisations have had to invest significant amount of time, money, and resources in learning and development. Workforce development today needs the right skills for the right job.

Today’s education system in India is producing graduates, but not able to produce a just-in-time hire. This systemic gap in the skills supply chain must first be addressed as reskilling alone does not provide the platform needed for the creation of new jobs, and it is an imminent need to think beyond mere reskilling.



Adapt and create a cohesive roadmap to the future

We live in uncertain times, not knowing whether we would be able to work from office or will continue remote working, as we currently do.

Organisations which are unable to undertake remote working would look for automation as its backbone for performance, enabling de-humanisation of routine or transactional jobs, which can be carried out at an affordable lower capital expense rate.

Having said this, capability and competency development of workforce, which can be employable without additional training and being able to contribute as individuals, while being resilient to change is the need of the hour.

In light of this, industry and governments must make concerted efforts in creating a road map for such a resilient future.

Edited by Megha Reddy

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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