Talent Transformation: Why Is Reskilling At The Core Focus For IT Sector?

The demand for accelerated career growth and short shelf-lives of new-age skills has placed a premium on reskilling and upskilling. Shift to a digital, knowledge-based marketplace means that the importance of intangible assets such as a skilled workforce, extraordinary leaders, and contextual knowledge is higher than ever


If I ask you, what fundamental aspect of "Themed parks" and "Theaters" do you find most enticing? The answers would point to "Experiences". Today, this central-theme is moving beyond the realms of entertainment businesses. We all live in "an experience economy" where hyper-personalized experiences drive people in their everyday lives. Industries are revolving around the question 'how do we stage experiences to our customers?' and are constantly trying to re-imagine their processes to meet such expectations from customers. The pandemic has further accentuated this need.  

Global workforces have been forever evolving in today's digital age and are adapting a widespread remote work infrastructure. One of the most apparent knock-on effects of these unprecedented times is the deeper infusion of data-driven digital services into various aspects of our lives, making digital transformation an even bigger imperative for IT organizations that focus on creating experiences and value for clients and their customers. 

Digital trends such as the growing use of automated technologies, multigenerational workforce, increasingly aggressive business landscape, and ever-increasing digital transformations are remodeling the outlook of talent in the IT industry. The demand for accelerated career growth and short shelf-lives of new-age skills has placed a premium on reskilling and upskilling. Shift to a digital, knowledge-based marketplace means that the importance of intangible assets such as skilled workforce, extraordinary leaders, and contextual knowledge is higher than ever.

The Era of Strategic Talent Development(TD) - It all boils down to Creating Value 

"Value is captured more through the complexity of problem rather than elegance of the solution"- Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO, TCS.

Continued growth and profitability will likely come from new collaborators (even competitors), new digital offerings, and new industries and ecosystems. So, it's not just the Heads of Businesses, but the entire organization should develop a Growth and Transformation (G&T) mindset and gear-up towards Business transformation.

Building G&T mindset requires one to learn to dwell more on the problem than the solution to build a PoV and develop unconstrained thinking for solutions. TD will need to enable its employees learn to think outside-the-box to bring heterogeneity in business models and architect & orchestrate an ecosystem.

Strategic Talent Development is a planned approach to create value by building the next-level talent, propelling individual careers, fueling business growth by imbibing G&T and "Ecosystems-thinking" mindset. It helps link learning with business outcomes for our customers, market, and employees and requires investments in associates to substantially impact demand fulfillment, external hiring, recognition of high-talent, diversity & belongingness, continual learning, engagement, and delivering value. 

A strategic talent development charter seeks to make learning "Purpose-Driven" by servicing purposes such as fueling business growth via reskilling agility, accelerating careers with learning, building approaches to

foster & groom high talent associates to realize their full potential, creating a 'Lifelong-learning" culture, building G&T leaders and so on. 

The Onus of Unbounded investment on learning is more on the Company than the individual.

In a competitive world for talent, customer loyalty is only sustainable in companies that have built tremendous employee loyalty and localized empowerment. Empowered learners need experiential learning. Particularly post-pandemic, a hybrid-workplace requires Technology-led transformation of Learning experiences with multi-modal interventions. 

In other words, the employee experience is as necessary as the customer experience to enable a high-performing enterprise, and TD will need to adopt the mindset of an Amazon or Netflix: Just-in-time, Just-enough, Just-for-me, remove friction, and add persuasion into learning. One extra click, and you can lose your customer.

Therefore, reskilling-agility and reinventing talent development are no longer just practices but business imperative now. Swiftly changing workplace requirements demand newer skill-sets. Hiring new talent for every skill is impractical and counterproductive. Therefore, retaining skilled employees is critical. Many leading organizations have been detecting this paradigm-shift and setting their talent transformation agenda to leverage the 'abundance' of talent within their workforce ecosystem through re-imagined reskilling approaches. Employees' contextual knowledge of their customers has a superior value, and organizations that provide their employees with the first right to leverage their contextual knowledge can deliver better results. This can happen via Proactive Talent Development-led deployment- An approach that addresses demand-fulfillment and associate career progression by analyzing demand and skilling employees pro-actively to optimize the mix of employees and hiring/contracting.

This raises the question, "What if our trained associates leave us?". But wouldn't we rather prefer investing in employee learning and seeing them leave than not learn and stay?

 A Purpose-driven, Democratic & Transparent linkage between Learning, Career & Rewards is a better catalyst than ANY number of Tactical incentives. 

For long, companies have relied on skill-based incentives, retention incentives, role-based or even market-specific skill allowances. Companies have been telling people "learn to see career progression over time” and left it to natural organizational mechanisms to take over. Today, these tactical approaches could create problems of distrust and spoil the company culture. 

Building a democratic, transparent framework that encompasses learning, work, and other performance dimensions is key to rewarding the workforce with accelerated career progressions. Retaining them during these changing times requires us to invest in lifelong learning, hire and train for careers and not positions, and link the effort put by associates in learning towards accelerating their careers. 

The Talent Development organization of Industry 4.0 era needs to be a mirror of Business

TD tends to be an 'HR,' support or enabling function in many companies. Today, in the Industry4.0 era, this does not work for Tech and Non-Tech companies where a significant part of their business relies on 'specialized-talent'. When someone says 'I need a ZooKeeper', the TD professional better have the tech-savviness to figure out that it is a centralized configuration-service for distributed systems and animals have no relevance here. 

TD organization needs to mirror business - in terms of structure, its own skills, KPIs & accountability to growth.

Heard of Shift-Left Learning? 

While technologies are advancing at this incredible pace, traditional campus hiring, and onboarding processes see newer challenges. The pandemic has added additional restrictions. Organizations need to re-imagine their entire Talent Acquisition & Development (TAD) model to bring innovation and agility in hiring the right-talent and accelerate 'time-to-business.' 

 The TAD reimagination starts with democratization of hiring process coupled with a shift-left approach to training with merit-based allocations. Shifting-left, fresher training means moving the erstwhile On-Premise freshers' training to off-premise before joining the organization. The impact would be a massive reduction in 'time-to-deployment', thereby ensuring a high ROI. TCS had implemented the "Shift-Left" approach in fresher training, massively reducing "time-to-deployment" from 3 months to 1-3 weeks.

(The given article is authored by Janardhan Santhanam, Global Head - Talent Development, Tata Consultancy Services and is solely created for BW People)


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