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Organisations around the world are struggling with skill gap, says Yvette Cameron

Skills are a complex challenge that organisations all around the world are struggling to grasp, and if not remedied correctly, they could be at risk of losing the best talent and falling behind in business, says Yvette Cameron, senior vice-president – Global HCM Product Strategy, Oracle. In an interaction with ET’s Rica Bhattacharyya, Cameron talks about the pressing issue of skills gap in India and around the world in the post-pandemic milieu and the urgent need for reskilling for employees across all levels. Edited excerpts:

1. Skill gap is a major challenge that corporations are facing amid rapid pace of technology innovation. How critical a challenge is it for organisations globally and in India?

As machines take on more challenging tasks, the skills required of the people around them become more challenging as well. The shelf-life of skills is shrinking every day, meaning the skills we may have learned only a year ago, may no longer be relevant. In that space between the roles people have currently and the ever evolving skills we need to learn lies the skills gap. In India specifically, the skills gap will have a major impact on the country’s economy over the next decade. International Labour Organisation (ILO) data suggests that there will be 29 million skills in deficit by 2030, which is expected to cause a $1.97 trillion loss in GDP if not controlled. Skills is a complex challenge that organisations all around the world are struggling to grasp, and if not remedied correctly, they could be at risk of losing the best talent and falling behind in business.

One of the biggest reasons why India is a contender to be the next big economy is its young population, which has massive potential to lead to higher economic growth. The skills gap is a threat to this opportunity. As the demand for disruptive technologies like AI, data analytics, and the cloud continues to grow, organisations need to overcome the shortage of skilled IT workers. For instance, despite high skills proficiency in areas like machine learning and mathematics, India trails behind in data skills, which is becoming more critical for a growing number of roles across many industries – not just data scientists.

2. The pandemic has made the issue of skills gap even more pressing. What role can reskilling and upskilling play in developing and retaining talent?

Even before the pandemic restructured the way we work, a major skills gap plagued the job market. The pandemic has made this issue even more pressing. But the challenge is more than just remote working—or the role of automation and AI— it’s also about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to adapt to the new normal. As a result, organisations are working to craft strategic talent policies that help employees grow their skills, including hard skills, like coding and working with AI, and soft skills like emotional intelligence. This approach to talent management is both a more efficient and empathetic approach than recruiting a whole new workforce. Developing the capability to upskill and reskill a workforce to adapt to the changing business environment will make organisations stronger in the long run.

Even before the pandemic, companies around the world were moving towards more digital business strategies like cloud technology, but the pandemic forced businesses to speed up that process. Now organisations around the world need to focus on upskilling and reskilling their workers so they can make the most of the new technology they’ve adopted. To better develop and retain talent in the wake of these changes, organisations need to help their employees understand and learn the skills they need to succeed as their roles evolve.

3. With widespread adoption of remote working and rapid acceleration of digitisation across sectors how critical is it for leaders to skill/upskill? What are the leadership skill gaps in the post-pandemic world and what can organisations do about it?

The skills gap is relevant and impacting employees of all levels – from entry level all the way up to leadership. The Covid-19 pandemic shifted the way many organisations work across their teams, forcing leaders to adapt to new ways of managing and connecting with their teams. In today’s work environment, soft leadership skills like communication, empathy, and collaboration are more critical than ever before. While these skills have always been important, business and team leaders also have to adapt to managing, inspiring, and motivating teams that are most often entirely remote. I believe the need and importance for these skills will only continue to grow as we navigate to the next phase of growth.

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