Addressing India's Skills Gap: Cracking The Talent Code

Archana Jayaraj, Director- Partnerships and Talent, APAC, and Operations Head for Wiley Edge India believes that the skills gap in India intensifies talent acquisition struggles, forces resource-intensive skills development and results in skill mismatches that hinder operational efficiency


Archana Jayaraj, director- partnerships and talent, APAC, and head of operations for Wiley Edge India shares her expertise on the persistent skills gap in the Indian workforce and its implications. With a focus on aligning talent acquisition strategies with evolving skill requirements, she delves into the challenges organisations face and outlines best practices for human resource (HR) leaders. Furthermore, she discusses the crucial role of collaborative efforts between government, industries and educational institutions in bridging this gap and offers a forward-looking perspective on strategies for a future-ready workforce.

From your perspective, what are the key reasons behind the existing skills gap in the Indian workforce? Are these reasons uniform across industries or do they vary significantly?

The skills gap amongst the Indian workforce is a complex issue driven by a multitude of factors. The conventional approach to education has always been more theoretical, while industry demands practical hands-on understanding. Rapid technological advancements require continuously evolving skills, and many educational institutions struggle to keep up with the industry demand. There is a mismatch between job seekers' skills and employers’ requirements. Additionally, the quality of education varies across regions, exacerbating the gap and demographic factors play an important role as well.

The severity of the skills gap varies from industry to industry, with technology-driven sectors facing acute shortages, while traditional industries may lack skilled labourers. Apart from technical skills, employers today are also looking for workers with soft skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving. Many workers lack these soft skills, which is also contributing to a skills gap. 

What challenges do organisations face due to the skill gap in India? How does this impact productivity, innovation and overall business growth?

The skill gap in India presents multifaceted challenges for organisations. It intensifies talent acquisition struggles, forces resource-intensive skills development and results in skill mismatches that hinder operational efficiency. This misalignment directly impacts productivity by reducing employee effectiveness, stifles innovation by impeding technology adoption and constrains overall business growth potential. With our innovative hire-train-deploy model, we aim to mitigate these challenges through strategic partnerships and tailored talent development solutions. Our aim is to empower organisations to bridge the skills gap, fostering a dynamic, competitive, diverse and innovative workforce in India.

How can HR leaders ensure that the talent acquisition and recruitment strategies align with the skill requirements of the organisation? What are some of the best practices to follow in this regard?

In today’s world, technology and innovation are accelerating at a fast pace and it is inducing a lot of changes in how we approach talent. Lifelong learning and continuous upskilling are the need of the hour. It is here that HR leaders play a pivotal role in ensuring that talent acquisition and recruitment strategies align seamlessly with the ever-changing skill requirements of organisations. Organisations should begin by emphasising structured training programmes tailored to specific roles and industries, encompassing technical, domain-specific and soft skills development to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and industry demands. In our training curriculum, we focus more on practical application through hands-on assignments which deepens conceptual understanding. 

Continuous evaluation and profiling identify performance gaps help in securing targeted improvements. We also have high-touch trainee management and tracking systems through which we ensure prompt support and higher success rates. Beyond recruitment, it is vital to prioritise employee engagement with mentorship, care, performance-based pay raises and ongoing learning and development opportunities, fostering sustained career growth. By embracing these practices, HR leaders can craft strategies that identify the right candidates while nurturing their development and engagement, resulting in a future-ready workforce. 

What measures can be taken at a national level to bridge the skill gap in India? How can government, industries and educational institutions collaborate effectively to address this issue?

Bridging the skill gap in India requires a multifaceted approach that includes sustained early intervention programmes to develop fundamental skills such as logical thinking, problem-solving and effective communication from the foundational years of education. This strong foundation is pivotal for most job roles and greatly enhances employability and learning agility on a national level. This approach, in collaboration with government, academia and industry, involves aligning education curricula with industry needs, expanding high-quality vocational training, establishing robust skill development initiatives and promoting public-private partnerships. Incentives for skill development and digital literacy initiatives also play a role in preparing the workforce for the digital age. These combined efforts can help alleviate the existing skills gap and ensure a well-prepared workforce for the evolving job market.

In the era of rapid technological advancements, how do you anticipate the skill gap to evolve in the coming years? What strategies should organisations adopt to stay ahead of these changes and ensure a future-ready workforce?

With new technologies transforming the world of work, it’s important for individuals as well as organisations to foster a culture of continuous learning and be agile in skill development. Apart from hard skills, soft skills will become increasingly crucial. Organisations looking to prepare for the future should prioritise several key strategies. First and foremost, they should encourage role flexibility, allowing employees to pivot and acquire new skills as the need arises. Additionally, promoting employee well-being is critical, as a healthy workforce is more likely to thrive in a dynamic environment. Furthermore, embracing diversity is not just a trend but a fundamental component of future-proofing organisations. In India, we empower talent from underserved regions and work towards bridging gender gaps. Our focus is on nurturing potential, not just prestige, as evident in our diverse talent pool drawn from over 1,000+ higher education institutions worldwide. An unwavering commitment towards holistic talent growth and development ensures the creation of not just future-ready, but also an inclusive and diverse workforce. 


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