A report by McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2030, between 400 – 800 million workers will lose their jobs due to automation. However, new jobs will be created and existing roles will be redefined. So how are workers reskilling and preparing for these new jobs? What are the new skills that are going to be in demand?
Vinay Pradhan, Country Manager – India, Skillsoft tells us what he is observing right now, and about the new e-learning courses being consumed online through the Skillsoft portal. Apart from technical skills, there is new demand for digital skills in functional and leadership roles.
Skillsoft is a pioneer in the field of e-learning. It provides cloud-based learning solutions for its customers worldwide, and his clientele includes global enterprises, government, and education, to mid-sized and small businesses.
DC: What is the impact of robotic automation on jobs, especially here in India?
Vinay Pradhan: This is a here and now problem and everyone in the industry is grappling with this phenomenon. Businesses are thinking about how they can reskill their employees with new skills — to redeploy them in different roles, to minimise forced attrition due to robotics or automation.
This is a two-fold problem: one is the fear of losing jobs, and the other is about staying relevant in the job market. There are two schools of thought: People are saying this is not the first time that a transformation like this has happened; there have been similar instances like this in the past. It’s about how one would practically address this as a change. The other school of thought is about painting a bleak picture — with lots of job losses.
Look at the IT industry, which was the first to get impacted by digital two years ago. The companies that were alert to this took steps to reskill their employees much earlier, and they have minimised job loses to a large extent. The impact for them was hiring more people; hiring has reduced. They minimised retrenchments because they reskilled in time.
DC: So how is the industry reacting to this?
Vinay Pradhan: While this has caused disruption, businesses are aligning themselves to this change very rapidly. As a learning provider, we are seeing that there is a lot of enthusiasm for adopting new skills. We are responding by providing e-learning content that pertains to new skills.
DC: What are the new kind of jobs that will emerge?
Vinay Pradhan: In the past, we’ve seen demand for technical courses from software developers and so on. Now the focus is moving beyond technical to more functional and leadership aspects. How is digital playing a role in various functions within the enterprise? It is about the impact of digital on the supply chain, marketing, sales etc. Skill requirements have a functional impact. It is about leadership too.
Agile can impact everyone in the organisation — across roles and functions. Everyone needs to be trained in Agile techniques.
The skills demand is in three areas: technical skills (AI, bots, machine learning), leveraging digital technology for functional roles, management & leadership.
DC: What are the new e-learning courses that people are looking for?
People are looking up courses that cover the impact of transformational technologies on functions. Courses on digital marketing and communications are also sought after. Other courses in demand are agile, virtual collaboration, design thinking, data science & analytics; leading digital transformation.
DC: What is the outlook like for 2018? What are you observing today?
Vinay Pradhan: We already see a shift from the fear and the denial stage of change, to acceptance. It is now about preparing for and managing this change, regarding acquiring new skills and becoming more relevant to the current job requirements and the future impact on jobs. There is a lot of optimism and proactive demand for acquiring these new skills.