How new-age mentorship can bridge the skills gap in India

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India is one of the youngest countries in the world with one of the largest workforces in the world. With nearly 500 million people of working age, the domestic labour market is second only to China's and far bigger than that of the United States and the European Union. Our demographic dividend is skewed towards an under-35 population, with millions of students graduating from colleges every year and entering the workforce. But, according to the latest India Skills Report (ISR), not even half the Indian graduates are employable as they lack professional skills. In 2021, only 45.9 percent of the graduates were found to be employable, a decline from 46.21 percent in 2020 and 47.38 percent in 2019.

Although the pandemic-induced lockdown might be responsible for this decline to some extent, there are several other factors that might have contributed, including lack of accessibility to knowledge, certifications, increase in population size, advances in technology, among others.

For the crores of youths who’re entering the workforce, learning the tricks of the trade – for whatever endeavour they want to pursue – is critical. To meet this requirement, India needs a collective effort that is backed by its sharpest brains. The gap is wide and the need for experienced mentors to come forward and invest their time in nurturing talent, has never been as pressing.

Mentoring has changed the game for job seekers

The concept of mentoring is one of the oldest forms of training, where a seasoned employee takes the younger one under their wing. Although the in-house approach of inviting mentors from within the organisations is still common, a new wave of mentorship is now emerging, where one can be mentored by anyone, from anywhere, and even by many people.

Today, as more people work or study from home, mentor-led and career-focused partnerships are exactly what today's job seekers need. Mentors can profoundly boost a mentee's career path by offering them a wealth of knowledge, experience, and guidance that can help them navigate through challenging times, such as the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

A recent survey by Springboard showed that 62.7 percent of professionals preferred to take an upskilling program that gives them access to a mentor, while 87.9 percent of the respondents thought that access to a seasoned mentor can profoundly boost their shot at success and career trajectory. Also, 79.4 percent felt that one of the best ways to transition to a new position in a different industry is with the help of a mentor.

From more optimism and new perspectives to improved communication and unbiased feedback to increased confidence, mentorship offers tremendous value to mentees. They get the benefit of talking to someone who really cares about their career growth and professional development.

Today, with the advent of “reverse mentoring”, mentees can also give back to the mentor, who might not always be digitally savvy, by sharing hacks, shortcuts or tutorials on the latest digital tools and applications and help them manage their social media presence.

New-age mentorship is just a click away

Although nothing beats face-to-face mentoring, many companies are now finding ways to take mentoring to the next level with technology. Thanks to the acceleration of adoption of digital tools due to the pandemic, mentoring sessions can now be conducted from the comfort of your homes, without the pressure or distraction of external factors. In other words, digital mentorship creates a safe space for meaningful conversations about career development and personal growth.

The digital age has also enabled mentors and mentees to connect beyond geographies, in real-time, rather than wait for the next day to talk about how to navigate a challenging situation.

For a country with a massive young workforce as India’s, upskilling at scale is required not just to secure a job, but also for professional growth and keeping up with the times. The million-dollar question is how we can harness the power of mentoring to boost the morale of India's youth while improving employment outcomes? Well, we better put our thinking caps on and get the answer fast!


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