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Employee upskilling catching on in India

Admin| Jul 20, 2016 - 09:39 AM India

Employee upskilling catching on in India

India Inc is slowly turning to employee upskilling to keep their workforce business ready in future. Here is an industry insider’s take

Yojana Sharma,

For decades, employee upskilling mostly meant organising periodic trainings and providing certifications. This is changing now, thanks to new business scenarios and cut-throat competition. Employers today need a future-fit workforce. spoke to Subrata Ghosh, founder and CEO, Redstone Learning, a global professional learning company, to understand what is happening on ground in relation to employee upskilling and the practices emerging hence forth.

Employee skilling is a rather silent phenomenon in India. What’s your take on the Indian ecosystem v/s the US where these practices are more evolved?

Large economies like the US manage disruptive cycles in business and technology by sustained focus and large strategic investments in research, innovation and employee learning & development. As per industry reports, US companies on an average budget 8-10 per cent of their total employee spend on training, with a total annual outlay of over $100 billion.

In India, the corporate training market is disproportionately small, with estimated spends of only 1-2 per cent of employee cost and a total outlay of less than $1 billion.

We frequently interact with decision-makers at both large and small companies globally. Some reasons for the low spending in India are –

1. High employee turnover: This is as high as 15-20% across industry and leads to a perceived loss of training investment incurred by the employer.

2. Generalist mindset: Employees in India tend to move towards generalist ‘managerial’ roles fairly quickly, as compared to long stints to hone specialised skills which are common in the US and similar economies.

3. More focus on entry-level skilling than specialist training.

At a macroeconomic level, according to the International Monetary Fund, India is projected to become the sixth-largest global economy by 2020 and the third-largest (behind China and the US) by 2030. India is presently home to only seven companies in the Global Fortune 500, compared to 128 in the US and 98 in China! So the next decade and a half will see the number of Indian companies in the global Fortune 500 list growing to at least 100.

Such phenomenal growth is unlikely to happen by focusing on employability-level skilling alone. Rather, Indian companies will have to lead from the front, develop high-end expertise and set global benchmarks. What this naturally entails is that significant investments will be made in long-term initiatives including research & development-led innovation and organisational capability-building via training. Such investments will grow to far higher levels than at present, rivaling the spending by today’s leading economies like the US. For employees, there will be a much stronger focus on higher-end skills and specialised career paths.

Which Indian companies are you working with for employee skilling?

About 90 per cent of our business is in the US and Europe. In India, we work with captive units of our global clientele like Intel, Cisco, Sony, Cerner and others.

In which knowledge domains do these companies seek skilling?

In India, companies seek skilling on technology, project management and quality skills. The focus is more on entry-level training than higher-end skills.

What all do these skilling programmes involve – online learning, on-ground case study solving etc?

Indian companies mostly prefer classroom training, with conceptual sessions, with case studies relevant to their lines of business. Online learning is treated as a supplement to classroom sessions.

Employees who attend such programme belong to which cadre – entry-level, middle or senior?

We primarily focus on the mid-career professional training and certifications, such as PMP, ITIL, Six Sigma, Agile, PMI-ACP, etc.

After attending these programmes, what are the expectations of employers and employees?

The sponsoring employer expects that the employee will be able to apply these learnings on the job and bring concrete and measurable improvement in productivity and quality. For employees, career growth as a result of such training programmes and certifications is an additional key expectation.



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