Upskilling – A tectonic shift in Employment
The first ever skill that mankind developed was to survive. The whole world, for them, was a road less traveled. They needed to have their survival skills intact. But with time, they faced new creatures and new problems. This led them to learn new skills. First they survived with just stones as their weapons, but then they faced the beasts in the wilderness and they made spears to kill them. This addition in the arsenal by learning a new skill is upskilling. We have been doing this since the inception of mankind and we will still have to do it because millions of jobs have been lost due to this Coronavirus blizzard.
The unemployment rates in the U.S and Europe are up in the teens. International Labour Organisation warns of almost 25 million layoffs if this virus is not controlled. The issue is rising its magnitude by the hour and these are unprecedented times since the Great Depression. As of 12th April 2020, India’s unemployment rate is around a whopping 13.5% and it is increasing everyday. It is pretty evident that inside this trailblazing sphere of digital transformation, companies complain about not finding skillful employees. If you think it through, you will realize that to get new jobs or to even retain your current one, you will have to load up your arsenal and upskill. Even if this pandemic would not have created such need for upskilling, we would still have to learn new skills in order to cope up with this roller-coaster of digital transformation.
Upskilling refers to the process of teaching current employees new skills. As technology creates opportunities, employers seek to fill new jobs with candidates who possess specialized skill sets. Every new technology advancement leads to few more advancements. These advancements will create a skill gap within the workforce of any organisation. Though reskilling is equally important, it should not be confused with upskilling. Reskilling means learning a new set of skills that are outside of existing knowledge, while upskilling means updating your existing knowledge so that they are strengthened.
So, the companies should use this time of lockdown to train its employees. As they say, ” When the fisherman can’t go fishing, he repairs the net.” This aphorism fits right in there. It makes sense for someone to load up with new skills like the fisherman does with repairing the net. And when its time to go fishing, he returns home with a ballpark of fishes. Also, every company has its own set of experts, they should start building their own content rather than buying it from somewhere else. And this is the time to find the right soldiers and get to building the content. This can save the company a fortune and all the required assets are confined in the company itself.
"When the fisherman can't go fishing, he repairs the net."
Now for all of this to happen efficiently, the company requires to adapt to a great online learning platform which can provide a wholesome learning experience, user-friendly interface, great support system and impeccable feedback. We can be sure about one thing that when this slowdown is curbed, upskilling would be more important than ever for two simple reasons. First, to cover up for the time and assets that were lost. Second, to leverage this secular expansion of growth in technology and use its data for all sorts of purposes.
Coming to think of it, we should realize that in these hard times, the goals of the company and the employees are dichotomous. For the company executives, their priority would be to save the company and for the employees , their priority would be to stay employed. If we are able to realize this simple thing, it should be clear to us that it is employees’ responsibility to upskill themselves, even if the company stops the upskilling efforts. And trust me, with online learning seeing such a boost in this realm, there are numerous platforms to upskill yourselves.
The policy makers are going to do their job of curbing the unemployment rates. It is time for us to step up and upskill ourselves, make our lives better by staying employed, make the policy makers’ job easy by curbing unemployment and eventually relieve our economy which is suffering again after a hard fought recovery.
Avinash Somjani is an intern at utobo and he is pursuing his MBA at SIBM Bengaluru. He is passionate about sports, science fiction, history and the ever changing colour of his pen.