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Finding Productive Resources Is A Growing Challenge In Organisations: Sapnesh Lalla, CEO, NIIT Ltd

Sapnesh Lalla, CEO of NIIT Ltd talks about employment after skilling, job market, apprenticeship and skill gap in employees.

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NIIT Ltd, a global leader in skills and talent development, offers multi-disciplinary learning management and training delivery solutions to corporations, institutions, and individuals.

Sapnesh Lalla, CEO of NIIT Ltd talks about employment after skilling, job market, apprenticeship and skill gap in employees.

How can technology help bridge the skill gap in the employees?

Technology can be great enabler when it comes to education and training by making quality content available to learners anytime anywhere. Technology that is user friendly both for learners and teachers/instructors can go a long way in bridging the availability accessibility divide.

Technology is enabling us to create very sophisticated learning experiences. Here are a few dimensions where use of technology can lead to better learning outcomes.

In the virtual environment a learner can try out procedures in a safe environment. We are now able to bring learning experiences similar to the flight simulator that pilots use for training to learn everyday procedures.

What are the employment prospects for the people gone through the skilling process?

In the process of moving to newer technology platforms, every business today is looking at adoption of technology to fundamentally re-shift the business model. Therefore, tech employees urgently need to pick new skills as new technologies find more takers in the world. According to Nasscom, 40 percent of the tech and BPO workforce in India needs to reskill themselves over five years.

Nasscom has recently launched a platform - FutureSkills - through which it hopes to reskill two million existing IT employees and another two million potential employees and students over the next few years.

As the nature of work will changes, so will the skills required for it. Therefore, skilling today is a process that every employee needs to go through to remain meaningfully employed. Re-skilling and up-skilling is not an option any more, it is a necessity for every professional.

How important is up-skilling for people looking to revamp their career?

Up-skilling is very important for people looking to revamp their career.The whole world is going through an up-skilling challenge in Information Technology (IT) sector. As IT also impacts other segments of the society, there is a very substantial up-skilling opportunity in every sector.

As an organization that has pioneered IT training in India having trained over 35 million people in IT over the last 36 years, we now perceive a huge requirement for Digital Skills, both for fresher’s and also for up-skilling and reskilling of existing IT professionals. Today, there is an urgent demand for full stack IP engineers by the startup industry, and the critical social role this sector would play in the long term as the primary provider of new jobs in the economy.

How important is apprenticeship along with academic training for job prospects?

Apprenticeship is increasingly gaining more and more credence in the current context of skills and job profile. Given the pressures of profitability, just in time hiring and recruiting job ready candidates, it is clear that practical work experience close to formal education or a training program leads to the first job. Productivity being a key influencer for improving the profitability of an organisation, finding productive resources is a growing challenge. The onboarding process in an organisation involves a minimum 3 to 6 months of training followed by live cases and shadow program. Hence it takes almost 6 – 9 months for any new employee to become billable or get deployed on live projects. The cost of training a fresher and the time required for him/her to become job ready add to the cost pressures. Apprenticeship supports both – the employer and the student/employee as well. The organisation gains stable & low cost resources for a given period, mentor – mentee relationship improves. A students gains relevant work experience and exposure to live processes and tools and of course, the stipend helps.

How has recruitment policies changed with new skills coming up?

Digitisation and automation has drastically changed the recruitment policies. Employers are looking for skills that are going to be relevant in the future.  Also, employers are looking at cutting down onboarding periods to reduce the overall bench cost.

Skill-based recruiting has also become a buzz phrase. It can be defined as a new recruiting approach by which candidates are assessed according to their skill sets. After all, a person’s skills are the very tools that enable him or her to perform certain tasks and to behave in certain ways.

In order to save time, energy and money, the recruiting industry is moving away from traditional resume-based recruiting to a more efficient recruiting approach: skill-based recruiting on the internet.

What has been hurting the job market; is it the skill gap or the number of opportunities?  

While on the one hand due to lowering profit margins, companies are cutting back very aggressively on the old paradigm of 30-40 percent bench labour, on the other hand process automation and use of bots are taking over repetitive manual tasks. This is having a further impact on hiring of fresher’s and also resulting in an increasing trend of structural layoffs under the garb of performance-based layoffs.

Also, with the IT sector undergoing a dramatic upheaval due to multiple factors, the industry is looking at completely different skill sets. Almost all new work coming in from the clients of IT firms is on totally new skills, which their huge workforce is not equipped for. Companies are desperately trying to reskill their obsolete armies, and some are of the view that their employees cannot be reskilled. This is leading to a further trend in layoffs especially at the middle level employees of these firms.