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Honing the human capital: How start-ups & SMEs can scale faster by reskilling employees


The landscape of India’s startups and mid-size enterprises is changing dramatically with the introduction of technologies such as automation, cloud computing, digital, and analytics to name a few. Recruiters are therefore expecting specialised skill sets in terms of social, analytics, automation, cloud, and mobility. Niche skill sets that area combination of understanding the domain, technology and consulting are usually not found at junior levels and, therefore, introducing the concept of re- skilling is essential to sustaining business momentum.

Startups and medium sized businesses are hiring thousands of engineering and non-engineering graduates every year for handling various projects. But amid the burgeoning need for specific skills, new-age entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to hire and train a new member in terms of time and resources. It takes an average of 45 days to hire someone at a junior to mid-management level. On the flip side, tuning the existing workforce to the changing business needs barely takes about 15-20 days and the consumption of resources is kept at a bare minimum. The biggest advantage of choosing to re-train someone as opposed to hiring a new staff member is that the existing employee is already aware and in sync with the company’s values, vision and culture and barely takes any time in adjusting and performing with the new skill sets.

Having said that, the urge to win the race comes from both sides. Even today’s workforce isn’t convinced with the idea of merely moving up the hierarchy. For them, a vibrant and an increasingly relevant career is driven by experiences that can be gained through various on-the-job opportunities, learning new skills and working in Cross-Functional Teams (CFTs). The re-skilling procedures initiated by companies make sure that each employee can multi-task. This makes it easier for them to switch from one department to another.

Mid-size enterprises and startups focus a lot on fresher training in their attempt to address the skill gap at the entry level. However, they are now also emphasizing on the aspect of uninterrupted learning for existing employees. This helps them in fast-tracking projects, making a rapid distribution of skilled resources and creating a strategic talent pool that can boost their delivery competencies across diverse skills. For instance, the role of marketing and sales have a lot of overlap in terms of customer interaction and acquisition, which makes it worth the effort for up-skilling among the employees by creating cross functional teams (CFTs). The technical team and inspection engineers having no overlap and thus need not, necessarily, be considered for re-skilling.

Another factor which gives a thumbs-up to the concept of re-skilling is the average age of workforce in start-ups and mid-size business houses. A majority of the employees is between the age groups of 25 and 30 years, which makes it easier for companies to re-skill them as they aren’t already rigid in their ways and are open to exciting challenges and new roles. All these new-age companies are emphasizing on the company’s inclusive growth by not flagging off every position for hiring, but re-skilling the existing team, enabling them to move into newer areas and make their position in the companies more meaningful.

Re-skilling is bringing a promising atmosphere for the people to pay attention to different kinds of jobs that require thinking, creativity and human interaction. So, despite some jobs getting eliminated, much more are being created. For the companies, re-skilling might be a daunting task, but it will be their sole path to survival in this rapidly advancing tech space. The best way forward is creating cross-functional teams (CFTs) for each and every project and letting employees benefit from the inclusive growth and leanings. 


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