News & Analysis

Upskilling, Key to Thrive in the New Digital Normal: Experts


Already reeling under an economic slowdown in the times of COVID-19, companies across the spectrum are now fighting a battle of survival. Salary deductions, hiring freezes and layoffs have become normal for businesses to remain afloat. With the market transforming at a breakneck speed, several conventional job roles are becoming redundant and are being displaced by newer profiles with evolved skills requirements. The solution for job seekers and professionals in this environment is the continuous acquisition of industry-relevant skills. 

On World Youth Skills Day, CXOToday spoke to some experts in the IT industry who tells us about the importance of skill development and new models of learning will be central to the recovery post-COVID-19, emphasizing on some of the best practices in their organizations.

“The current COVID-19 situation has affected the economy greatly as businesses have felt the impact across various sectors not only in India but across the globe. The current need is to enable businesses to digitally evolve themselves and at the same time upskill their workforce to equip them with relevant skills. To push the envelope further and drive innovation and growth, SAP India recently announced ‘Global Bharat’- an initiative where MSMEs will be provided with accessibility to over 240 courses on digital, financial, soft skills and productive technologies that will digitally skill the workforce and help them adapt to the new working environments. No matter how niche a company is, a skilled workforce is as important as the product/services offered by the company to ensure sustainability.” – Subramanian Ananthapadmanabhan, VP and Head of General Business, SAP Indian Subcontinent


“In addition to software and application skills, companies are seeking employees who are flexible, adaptable, and who proactively embrace future trends and drive disruptive outcomes. Companies need to empower both existing team members and onboard new graduates to undertake initiatives to drive the new digital dial tones for their enterprises. Nutanix invests in supporting India’s next generation of great minds by providing internship opportunities, mentoring and skill training for the young minds across India. Additionally, we’re actively engaged with the country’s premier universities, maintaining collaborative research programmes across multiple IITs as well as with BITS Pilani, to help graduating students get job ready. We strongly believe that an environment that values diversity of thought, and provides inclusive opportunities for growth, is what will encourage a passion for fuelling innovation among the future workforce.” – Sankalp Saxena, SVP and MD-Operations, India, Nutanix


“Organizations, in the new normal, are investing in emerging tech like AR/VR and machine learning. They are leveraging custom learning solutions via remote. The key to this approach’s success is aligning individual employee goals and priorities with organizational objectives. While, remote upskilling programs are easily carried out through Zoom or Microsoft Teams and similar platforms. The challenge lies in designing effective courses for remote-only use. At Thoughtworks, the effort we save by eliminating the need for physical classrooms, travels and logistics is being invested in converting existing and designing new courses to remote-only. COVID-19 pushed organizations and teams like ours to go remote-first or rather; remote-must and we accepted the gambit.” – Jaydeep Chakrabarty, Capability Development Lead, ThoughtWorks


 “In this rapidly evolving technological landscape, with various frameworks and tools coming into play and a mix of technologies and languages being used in them, organizations are looking for candidates with a holistic approach towards problem solving rather than owning niche skillsets.

Hence, rather than focusing on specific skill sets and investing enormous amount of time in championing them, the distinguishing factor that will set them apart is having fundamental knowledge on various trending skillsets in the industry. The onus is upon the leadership to equip the workforce with solid use cases, mentoring programs, and collaborative sessions towards experiential learning. For example, CSS Corp’s own ‘Digital Reskilling Framework’ hones budding leaders through leadership programs and mentor-mentee sessions. At this juncture of technological heterogeneity, it is imperative to be digitally savvy, agile, and nimble to learn, adopt and sharpen one’s skills towards being relevant to the current business environment.” – Brijesh Balakrishnan, SVP & Delivery Head – Digital Engineering Services and GIS, CSS Corp 


 “The pandemic is driving businesses to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. The fastest path to do that is to leverage SaaS and cloud platforms for application delivery. To help students be better prepared to successfully enter this rapidly evolving workforce, Clumio is actively offering tie-ups and programs with colleges or other initiatives to offer internship opportunities for computer science students from BITS, IIT’s, NIT’s, BMS and PESIT. 40% of India’s employee strength is from new college hires and interns to full-time conversion. We proactively engage with candidates to train them on the AWS and Clumio tech stack – Distributed systems, Cloud-native Microservices architecture and Web development.”  Sandeep Soni, GM and Vice President of Engineering, India operations, Clumio 


“The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown has introduced organizations and its employees to new way of working. Digital and soft skills that were once considered as add-ons, have suddenly become a necessity. To survive in this new normal, organizations need to train their employees in skills such as cloud computing, emerging technologies, virtual collaboration and communication to equip employees to function seamlessly in the remote working model. With many large organizations planning to incorporate work from home in their operational model, it has become imperative that educational institutions introduce their students to virtual learning environment and train them in digital skills to create a foundation for them to thrive in the future work culture.”  Lakshmi Mittra, VP – Center of Excellence (CoE) and Clover Academy, Clover Infotech

 “As work from home becomes a necessity and with fewer numbers of employees available at factories and offices, there is a clear and urgent need to train, upskill and reskill our employees. Companies will now have to work strategically with respective department heads to chalk out the most effective plans that ensure maximum efficiency and workflow continuation with the least amount of disruption. This also works to the advantage of employees, especially the youth, as they will gain access to smarter, more efficient ways of working and enhancing their skillsets. I’m sure most companies would be looking at the current situation as an opportunity to create innovative solutions that are a win-win for all concerned.”– Kishan Jain, Director, Goldmedal Electricals 

“To be able to work efficiently in a remote environment is one of the key skills required in the COVID era. Many organizations will include the criteria in their job description as well. Presently, most employees connect through virtual platforms where technology is a key enabler. Therefore, hands-on knowledge of the virtual tools is also a must. There is also a need for enhancing the digital skills, considering usage of digital technology like AI, analytics, automation, etc. will be on rise. Due to the shift in work environments, Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Virtual Quotient (VQ) is a much needed skill. There has been a genuine improvement in the empathy skills being demonstrated by everyone at their workplace, which increases the EQ demand. VQ essentially demonstrates effectively managing your stakeholders – people, clients, operations and others – virtually, hence the demand for this competency is certainly on rise.” – Avesh Kumar Jha, SVP – OD&PM, HGS 

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at [email protected]