Bridging the Demand for Digital Talent in the New Digital Age

Bridging the Demand for Digital Talent in the New Digital Age

Shreeranganath Kulkarni, Chief Delivery Officer, Birlasoft, 0

A part of the executive leadership team of Birlasoft, SK was earlier with Accenture, where he was the Managing Director and Technology Delivery Lead for Financial Services

COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation initia tives by companies across sectors, and the adoption has been so sudden that it will take a while for companies to train and skill their employees towards digital empowerment initiatives. As companies increasingly digitize their work processes and demand for technological solutions grows, digital skills will only get more mainstream. Increasing investments by global MNCs are expected to amplify the rising demand for talent, thereby further widening the demand supply gap. The digital skills gap is at an inflection point and companies have already started facing a new challenge in a digital first world. There are just not enough people with the right digital skills to fuel companies' digital transformation strategies. The decisions companies make now around how to solve the digital skills gap will echo for future generations.

The World Economic Forum estimates that 54 percent of employees will need significant reskilling by 2022. And while many companies are adopting reskilling or upskilling, it hasn't proved to be as feasible and smooth as transitioning in fresh digitally skilled workforces. As we move along, there will be fewer roles that accept talent without any digital training, and even employees with considerable technical training will be needed to continually upskill employees in keeping up with the pace of innovation. It is against this backdrop that boardroom conversations are beginning to focus on reskilling. Implementing a well defined reskilling and training plan, with specific emphasis on entry-level jobs will provide the necessary acceleration to India's emerging technology growth strategy.

To meet the demands of the future workforce, training from early years' education through to retraining programs for people well into their careers is vital to ensure the digital skills gap does not restrict organizations' growth and clutch the global economy. While expanding training to meet soaring demand is a challenge, it is also a unique opportunity to diver sify the talent pool. Organi zations can embrace this opportunity and reap the benefits of a more diverse and more skilled workforce.

Imbibing Newer Skillsets
Keeping companies afloat as digital trends change is an uphill battle. It means keeping work methods and the workers driving daily operations up to date. Companies will need to build on a new set of well crafted strategies, which includes hiring, reskil ling, upskilling, reallocating
and sourcing. We must follow a rigorous discipline of identifying specific talent needs. In a McKinsey survey, nearly twice as many respondents highlighted that their companies have set hiring goals based on specific skills needs in comparison to respondents whose organizations don't set such goals. Successful employers evaluate relevant trends and identify the necessary skills to reach the goals in a period of 3-5 years.Data, in this case, can help organizations in shaping their tech talent upskilling strategies. With data, companies can best define the needed skill sets, develop top reskilling and upskilling priorities, devise external bench marking and compare and observe the skill gaps that exist in the external talent ecosystem.

Digital first organizations will need to define a digital talent strategy that meets both the business objectives and the needs and preferences of digital focused talent.Talent and human resources executives and business leaders need to acknowledge the digital talent gap and play their part in narrowing it. Leaders will also have to play a decisive role in effortlessly incorporating new digital talent into the system. Leaders must be aware of employees' strengths, working styles, and aspirations to drive tangible gains. Learning agility and entrepreneurial streaks are the two most important pillars in the digital world and companies need to base their talent upskilling strategies on keeping these two aspects in mind.Knowing the workforce and empowering them to learn by bringing the learning to where they are (read work from anywhere) will prove to be crucial for driving success.

Take the Lead
We need to actively partner with educational institutions in developing the talent pipeline and recruiting new digital talent. Such collaborations assist companies in gaining early access to talent and shape curricula for the skills they need. In this ever-evolving journey, knowing that upskilling is a priority for digital talent, organizations should ensure that they feel energized and motivated in their decision to participate in learning and development. We should also focus on ways to incentivize learning. Given that skill redundancy is a crucial worry among employees, ensuring a clear career progression path is essential to relieve the underlying concerns.

In the end, we must also remember organizations need to build an acceptance for failure. New age digital talent thrives in a ‘Fail Fast & Learn Fast' culture and if we are unable to give that exposure to our talented employees, they will either leave the organization or will never be motivated enough to take up a new role. This is especially true for the middle management as they are the most likely to leave if they don't get newer digital opportunities. Young digital talent is ambitious and wants to work in a particular atmosphere. If organizations are too oldschool, digital talent will suffer significantly.

Riding high on the digital bandwagon, if these strategies are well taken care of, it will present a unique opportunity for companies to enhance future value for their business and drive equity and inclusion in the communities where they operate because in the end, continued investment in digital skills to back this emerging shift in career opportunities driven by digitalization is the most crucial element to global economic recovery and will power resilient long-term economic growth.