Learning and development (L&D) leaders say the significance of upskilling and reskilling employees has increased manifold, especially in the current fast-changing, complex and ambiguous business environment.
As work from home and remote operations become the new normal, Sudeep Ralhan, Vice President – People, Walmart Global Tech India, said cross-functional expertise, agility and digital competencies will determine not just survival for the employees but also their roles.
“My first expectation from 2021 will be skilling programmes putting more emphasis on developing tech expertise. An employee’s ability to understand emerging technologies like AI, ML and Data science has to go beyond just the basics,” he said.
As technology is fast-evolving, new skills are continuously required within the workforce to keep pace with fresh competition &and to avoid ceding ground due to operating on a legacy technology stack, he added.
Attrition levels may go up in 2021
“When the current crisis hit,” Lokendra Sethi, VP and HR Head – India, DXC Technology, said, “there was a temporary suspension of talent acquisition activities among many organizsations, though it picked up pace in the last quarter of 2020. ”
He further said, “We expect this trend to continue in 2021, as organizsations continue to plan for the campus and experienced hiring in the next year. While January to June is conventionally a lean onboarding period for campus recruits, we can expect it to pick up pace in the latter part of the year.”
In terms of attrition, while 2020 saw a decline, Sethi believes it is likely that attrition levels may go up in 2021. “We expect this to be a gradual process and hence the industry may not see some of the historic attrition levels. We do expect to see some of the industry talent demand picking up, and rotation of talent in the industry,” he said.
For Sameer Soman, Managing Director, ThoughtWorks, the key priorities in 2021 will continue to be a strong focus on delivering value for customers by employing tech excellence and pushing the boundaries on exceptional delivery, and service.
“This has been our approach in 2020 and we don’t see it changing in the coming year. With respect to people management, we will better enable the Work From Anywhere philosophy by evolving our hiring, people practices and leadership development to be inclusive,” he said.
Soman’s objective is to overcome the challenges of zero-to-little face to face time, dynamic social ecosystems, and changing guidance for health and safety standards.
“We will also be prioritizing capability development so our employees are proficient with emerging tech like AI, ML, automation, data analytics, cloud and cybersecurity – that the market is capitalizing on,” he added.
Remote working has forced L&D teams to reassess the use of virtual tools
This year has been unquestionably different and challenging for each one of us, including having a deep impact on the way people learn &and develop. Ralhan from Walmart propounds that remote working has forced L&D teams to reassess the use of virtual tools and be extremely innovative to provide the same level of focus and engagement as one would expect being physically present.
As a result, he said, technology has played a crucial role in transforming L&D this year and will continue to do so going forward. “The other trend is the acceleration towards personalized experience. So, in order to be effective, we have to customize the programmes to individual needs and preferences while moving away from traditional training methods to make L&D initiatives more meaningful and engaging,” he said.
According to Soman, from ThoughtWorks, the need to transform has never been greater. In 2021, he said, leaders of the technology industry will have to continue taking stock, adapting and creating organizsation-wide resilience in response to the next normal – so, they can quickly respond to industry disruption.
“Leaders will have to be discerning, to focus on the right initiatives that will pave a new path for their organizsations. They will have to build on their current agility to efficiently capitalize on the increased speed of change, decision making and time to market,” he said.
“Also, an exploring mindset will aid in bridging the organizsation’s digital divide by embracing new technology, experimenting and creating new value streams for customers,” added Soman.