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The Role of Upskilling and Reskilling in Gaining a Competitive Edge

  • 10 August, 2023

 Prakash Kumar

Priya Sriram, Director, People & Strategy

Priya heads the People and Strategy team at Intelliswift. With a strategic mindset and extensive experience, Priya bridges the gap between talent development and business goals. She is focused on aligning people's growth with organizational objectives.

In the ever-changing tech world, upskilling is vital for organizations to stay relevant and competitive. It's more than just learning new tools – it's about being good at what we do, learning constantly, and coming up with new ideas. In this latest edition of our SME Speak interview series, Priya sheds light on the profound impact of upskilling in driving organizational success. She emphasizes that upskilling is not just about adapting to change but about embracing growth and innovation in an ever-evolving landscape.

1. How do upskilling and reskilling contribute to the overall growth and competitiveness of an organization?

We prioritize investing in our employees' skills, ensuring they are updated with the latest industry insights, technologies, and best practices. This empowerment leads to a more efficient and innovative workforce, resulting in top-notch products and services for our clients. Furthermore, having skilled employees with a growth mindset makes us agile in the market.

Through our iScale program, we focus on hiring talent who can be further groomed in niche technologies that suit current market needs and serve our clients better. This helps us keep up with demand while nurturing individual employees' growth.

2. How do upskilling and reskilling initiatives affect employee retention and job satisfaction within an organization?

When employees observe that the organization is genuinely invested in their professional growth, it creates a powerful sense of being valued and appreciated.

Here's a quick overview of our ongoing initiatives for freshers that might help you understand it better:

Our Freshers' Program nurtures young talent, grooming them for growth and success. Through this program, they are engaged and aligned with our values.

iCampus is an initiative that provides opportunities to college grads who undergo an extensive boot camp. It's designed to make them project-ready in a shorter span of time, including hands-on live projects and on-the-job training. iNurture is another initiative that remains open year-round, aimed at identifying and nurturing talent from non-engineering backgrounds who are skilled coders.

In summary, our rich culture naturally leads to high engagement and reduced turnover rates. When employees feel supported, valued, and satisfied in their jobs, they are more inclined to stay with the organization for the long term.

3. How does having a skilled and adaptable workforce contribute to an organization's ability to navigate technological advancements and industry disruptions?

In today's fast-paced business landscape, technological advancements and industry disruptions are constant challenges. Having a skilled and adaptable workforce ensures that an organization can quickly embrace and leverage new technologies and methodologies. This agility enables us to respond to industry disruptions with resilience and creativity, turning challenges into opportunities for growth. A workforce that continuously upskills and reskills is better prepared to navigate changes, stay ahead of the competition, and drive innovation.

Some of our programs, such as iUpskill – a need identification-based training, and iPool - a forecast-based upskilling initiative, are specially designed to ensure we are prepared and competitive.

4. How do these learning initiatives align with an organization's talent development and succession planning strategies?

Through these initiatives, we identify high-potential individuals and equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to take on leadership roles in the future. This not only ensures a robust leadership pipeline but also instills a sense of purpose and motivation among our employees.

Furthermore, we strategize our lateral and onsite movements to provide opportunities based on personal aspirations, which ultimately leads to empowerment.

As a result, our workforce is more engaged and invested in their roles, knowing that their hard work and dedication are valued and recognized. This alignment between learning initiatives and talent development strategies ultimately contributes to the long-term success and sustainability of the organization.

5. What challenges do organizations typically face when implementing upskilling and reskilling programs, and how can these be overcome?

One common obstacle is resistance to change or the absence of enthusiasm for acquiring new skills. To overcome this, we focus on creating a culture of learning where continuous improvement is celebrated. Additionally, budgetary and time constraints can pose challenges. To address this, we prioritize the most critical skills gaps and invest in cost-effective and efficient training methods.

Moreover, to enhance the effectiveness of our learning programs, we adopt a blended approach. Sessions are designed and followed up with mentorship from practices. This approach helps us stay current with the market while maintaining a relevant and focused learning path.

6. How can an organization ensure that the skills acquired through upskilling and reskilling programs align with its current and future needs?

Alignment with current and future needs is essential for the success of upskilling and reskilling programs. To ensure this, we conduct regular skill gap assessments and analyze future industry trends to identify the skills that will be most valuable in the coming years. We also engage in ongoing conversations with various stakeholders, including business leaders, HR teams, practices, and employees, to understand the evolving needs of the organization and tailor our training accordingly.

Continuous pipeline analysis, along with manpower forecasts and current skill gap analysis, helps us remain relevant and respond to industry demands with utmost agility.

7. How do upskilling and reskilling contribute to an organization's ability to attract and retain top talent?

Top talent seeks continuous learning and advancement. Our active investment in employee skills is a major draw for them. Our upskilling and reskilling initiatives lead to professional growth and enhanced skills, increasing the long-term retention of current employees.

Certain policies, such as the certification policy that provides reimbursements for successful certification completion, help support individual aspirations and motivate employees to achieve more. Internally, we also recognize such achievements through our "Learning League" and "Wall of Fame" platforms, which keep them motivated. Additionally, iCert is another initiative with a focused and targeted certification approach that provides learners with an environment to thrive, complete with full support, mentorship, guidance, and assistance in achieving their best.

8. How do you recommend organizations identify the most critical skills gaps and prioritize which employees should undergo upskilling or reskilling?

We begin by conducting comprehensive skills assessments across the organization to identify areas where there is a shortage of expertise. We involve department heads and team leaders in this process to gain insights into the specific needs of different teams.

One crucial part that many might overlook is devising a training charter for every project to outline the required skills and ramp-up plan. This provides clarity on our skill requirements. Another input comes from the skill level assessment of individuals on the project. The difference between both becomes the training needs input for that project, and a clear learning path can help in ramping up critical skills for that project.

Once we identify the gaps, we prioritize based on the urgency and impact on business objectives.

9. Are there any best practices or strategies that you recommend for designing and delivering effective upskilling and reskilling programs?

Absolutely! Here are some best practices and strategies we follow for designing and delivering effective upskilling and reskilling programs:

Personalization: Tailor the learning experience to individual employee needs and preferences. Personalize it based on individual aspirations as well as project requirements.

Continuous feedback: Regularly collect feedback from participants to improve the quality and relevance of programs. This also requires input from the business to confirm the effectiveness of the training.

Real-world application: Emphasize practical, hands-on learning to apply newly acquired skills in real-world scenarios. Hands-on live projects and on-the-job training, and application of learning play a vital role.

Learning pathways: Create clear learning pathways that outline the progression of skills and competencies. This will also include a clear definition of the outcomes expected from such programs.

Mentorship: Pair employees with experienced mentors to provide guidance and support throughout the learning journey. Deep involvement from the talent development team helps in providing the right direction.

Recognition and rewards: Recognize and reward employees who actively engage in upskilling and reskilling initiatives. Our Learning League and Wall of Fame initiatives are classic examples.

Embrace technology: Leverage technology-driven learning platforms to make training accessible and scalable.

Blended learning: Mix and match different ways of learning; this will result in more effective programs.

By following these best practices, we ensure that our upskilling and reskilling programs are effective, engaging, and aligned with our organization's goals and values.

Employee Skilling Upskilling Strategies Talent Development Professional Growth Workforce Development Career Advancement

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