Upskilling Is Crucial In Career Growth Plan; 65% Of Learners Upskilled To Strengthen Career Prospects

Around 65 per cent of learners upskilled in the past year to strengthen career prospects and felt that lack of critical skills is the biggest career growth obstacle. Those in midsize companies (2,000 to 10,000 employees) and those employed in BFSI, IT, and Manufacturing are more likely to upskill for their current jobs


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As companies are on their accelerated journey of digital transformation, upskilling is taking centre stage to keep the workforce ahead of the curve across the industries. The main question to encounter is; Is the Indian workforce future-ready and pandemic proof? Not more than ever, cultivating the culture of ‘learning on the job’ can have an unconventional fruitful impact on the organistional growth and individual development as well. 

During the last year, youth and fresh graduates have faced unprecedented career and professional growth obstacles. How will the new order of the world will treat Gen Z in the workforce, how will their career paths have been impacted, and what new skill areas they are expected to focus on? Around 31per cent felt stuck due to the effect of the pandemic, and around 65 per cent have enrolled in upskilling in the past year to strengthen their career, according to a recent survey report.

While acquiring core skills can offer plenty of job opportunities but the turbulent times has elevated the importance of soft skills as well. 

"Agility, in today’s scenario, is about how we deal with an unknown scenario, gather data, solve problems, make sense of difficult situations and communicate with those around us. It further goes on to how we learn, unlearn, adapt and relearn,” says Aditya Kohli, CHRO, Clix Capital.

A recent survey, Simplilearn’s State of Upskilling 2021 report reveals that most respondents learned or planned to learn the following new skills - Data & AI (48%), Project Management and Scrum (34%), Cloud Computing/DevOps (32%), and Digital Marketing (21%) that shows workforce feel the potential largely lies in the technology aligned job roles. 

Improving Career Prospects And Seeking Skills In Digital Economy

“In the post-pandemic world, Digital, AI & Analytics will definitely gain a lot more prominence, as business models become more digital. Technical skills will play a huge role in the new world,” Clix Capital’s CHRO adds.

● People looking for a new job opportunity (49% of respondents) were most interested in upskilling in Data & AI (56%), Project Management and Scrum(36%), and Cloud Computing & DevOps (33%)

● Those planning to do better in their current roles (27% of respondents) were most interested in Data & AI (46%), Cloud Computing & DevOps (43%), and Project Management and Scrum (41%)

 “The first and foremost skills that employees have had to work on are their digital and cognitive skills, in addition to their social and emotional skills. It is also essential that employees build upon their adaptability & resilience,” ponders Sukhpreet Singh, Head of Human Resources, mPokket. Adding on the same lines, Singh further adds, “The past year has been more about reskilling than upskilling. Employees have had to unlearn & relearn new skills to keep up with the changing expectations.”

Skilling Trends Across Companies Of Size And Scale

Building a culture of continuous learning has several important benefits for enterprises as well as their employees. Trends with learners in companies of various sizes include the following. 

Speaking on the state of upskilling, Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Simplilearn, said, "The pandemic has created a new world of work, and while the nature of jobs may change given automation and technological intervention, one thing is certain: everyone, irrespective of their age, will have to spend time on either upskilling or reskilling.”

While highlighting the importance of a continuous cycle of learning, he added, "Given the rapid changes in the professional landscape, this dynamic is about more than remote working or the role of automation and AI. It's about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models."

● Nearly one-third of people in small companies (50 or fewer employees) took a chance on changing their career paths

● 40 per cent of people in midsize (501 to 2,000 employees) and very large companies (over 10,000) reported feeling stuck, higher than in other sized companies

● 47 per cent of people in companies with 2,001 to 10,000 employees were more likely to upskill in their current work area, the highest percentage of any company size group

Optimism Is The Main Sentiment Across All Respondent Demographics

One exciting insight is that respondents across demographics believe that opportunities are open to people at all experience levels and of any gender. They believe that barriers based on gender or experience level are reducing across industries. Though there remains a disparity in gender participation in well-paying digital economy roles, companies and institutions actively seek to close the gap. In addition, many companies and organizations are placing more emphasis on skills rather than on academic credentials, which makes it easier and more effective for individuals to use upskilling to accelerate their career development.

● Overall, 85 per cent of respondents are optimistic about the future

● People of all genders and all job experience levels are optimistic about recovery from the pandemic

● Of all the industry sectors, people in BFSI are very optimistic that there will be a post-pandemic boom

● People across all company sizes are optimistic about recovery from the pandemic, although those in mid-sized companies (501-2,000 employees) are a little more cautious and somewhat less certain about the recovery

Most learners understand that upskilling is crucial, and the overall demographic is mainly optimistic for the future. In addition to learners' individual efforts, companies should craft a talent strategy that develops employees' critical digital and cognitive capabilities, social and emotional skills, and adaptability and resilience. That will help the workforce cater to the needs of new-age business models. Ultimately, upskilling and reskilling are the keys to a better career in 2021 and in the years to come.

Opportunities Based On The Industry Sectors

Digitally mature industry sectors are seen to offer more opportunities and less career stagnation. Some of the key findings of the survey include:

● Of the various industry sectors, people in manufacturing (45%), BFSI (39%), and Information Technology (38%) were more likely to upskill for their current work.

● 33 per cent of people in BFSI chose to opt for more opportunities

● 39 per cent of people in BFSI and 30 per cent in manufacturing took on more responsibilities in their current roles.

● At 47 per cent, people working in Pharma and Healthcare were most likely to report feeling stuck.

● At 29 per cent, people in Pharma were most likely to wait and watch.

Companies should double up their Learning and Development budgets and actually commit to reskilling their employees to keep up with this constantly changing scenario. Continuous upskilling and reskilling employees according to the changing strategies and needs of one’s organization, will help build a more agile workforce that is constantly learning & adapting

“The BFSI, Manufacturing and IT sector are heavily investing in upskilling, with the latter focusing on roles like Data & AI, Project Management & Scrum, and Cloud Computing. Learners are targeting these skillsets across the world, with the objective of enhancing their career paths,” opines Ashish Jain, Head of Right Management India, part of ManpowerGroup India.

Future-proofing of employees is the need of the hour. Individuals, as well as organizations feel the need to upskill and arm themselves to adapt to the changing world of work. “Post pandemic recovery is on the rise, and learning budgets are set to rise across industries irrespective of the size of the organizations,” Jain elucidates.

About The Future

When COVID hit, it brought to light a lot of skill gaps in the workforce, across industries. To avoid such a scenario, it is imperative for organizations to accelerate their upskilling initiatives. This will not only help keep the current workforce more relevant in the times to come but also add value to the organization in the long run. 

Regarding the outlook for the future, how learners see the next year shaping up for themselves, the industry, and the world, and their next steps in building momentum in their careers:

● 85 per cent of respondents look forward to post-pandemic recovery and growth

● 57 per cent of respondents said upskilling themselves is the next step in their career development plan

● Learners cited lacking key skills as an obstacle as they are less likely to get new jobs or be assigned vital projects without those skills

The survey was conducted to understand learners' experience in the past 12 months and their expectations for the coming year. The survey was conducted with over 2500 learners comprising both individual and corporate learners who participated in the same. About 20 per cent of the respondents were freshers, 47 per cent were mid-level employees, and 33 per cent were senior-level professionals. The survey covered employees working in BFSI, Consulting, IT, Manufacturing, Pharma/ Healthcare, and other industries,

Other Key Findings of Simplilearn’s State of Upskilling in 2021 survey

  • 65 per cent of learners upskilled in the past year to strengthen career prospects and felt that lack of critical skills is the biggest career growth obstacle
  • 85 per cent of respondents look forward to post-pandemic recovery and growth; Digital Economy skills are key to success
  • 57 per cent of respondents said upskilling themselves is the next step in their career development plan
  • Those in midsize companies (2,000 to 10,000 employees) and those employed in BFSI, IT, and Manufacturing are more likely to upskill for their current jobs
  • 30 per cent of respondents said they feel stuck due to the effect of the pandemic and lacking key skills is an obstacle that held them back in their career


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