The COVID-19 pandemic and online learning have given rise to a demand for certain skills that fresh graduates need to have to be job ready
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change,” says a popular quote by Emanuel James Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. This saying is now more pertinent than ever considering the situation at hand. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways one could never imagine. While some changes have not necessarily been favourable, others have been good. Nevertheless, this transformation, albeit forced, requires everyone to adapt in order to survive.
The new normal not only requires us to learn living in a certain way, but we need to also develop new skills in order to flourish. Times have been especially hard for students who have had to study and graduate online in the last year. Apart from the job cuts that various sectors had to undergo due to the pandemic, fresh graduates may be finding it hard to land jobs as the skills that they have developed could be obsolete for the kind of jobs that the IT industry now requires. However, it is never too late to gain these skills feels Mahesh Zurale, senior managing director, lead-advanced technology centers in India (ATCI), Accenture.
“The rapid adoption of digital technologies has not only led to an increased demand for digital skills in areas such as cloud, security, data, AI, and automation, but also for talent who are conversant with the new ways of working. The most important skill that technology professionals need today is the ability to continuously learn and adapt. A continuous learning mindset and ongoing investments are required to build technical and functional skills. Additionally, one should focus on developing skills such as intellectual curiosity, empathy, creativity, and an innovation mindset that will be key to meet future role requirements,” says Zurale.
Balvinder Khurana, technology principal and global data community lead, ThoughtWorks believes that a lot can be achieved through Self-motivated learning. “Online learning comes with its set of pros and cons. The exhaustive array of learning platforms sometimes misses out on important experiences that are available only with in-person learning. And, just as with most professional studies, engineering; the skill only gets better with peer-to-peer learning. Such learning is characterized by observing, interactions, and impulsive creativity that’s triggered by the communal learning experience – classrooms, on-site projects, internships, etc.
Another aspect that organizations will have to account for is the varying standards of quality for online studies. While the medium scores high on convenience, infrastructure (internet bandwidth), the structure of content, and the trainer’s effectiveness become much more relevant – else, it becomes an exercise in isolated self-study,” she comments.
“Today, the skills that companies are looking for, apart from obvious technical knowledge and skills, include excellent written and verbal communication. Listening is also a valuable skill especially in a virtual setting where one does not always have visual cues to go by. A firm knowledge of virtual collaboration tools, techniques, and best practices are also important, especially in settings that involve brainstorming, pairing on code development, etc. Self-motivated learning continues to remain as critical as it was in the mostly physical world,” she adds.
The pandemic has given rise to work-from-home, which in turn has made it imperative for candidates to be flexible. “Technology companies look for candidates with a holistic approach towards problem-solving, strong fundamentals in logical reasoning, data structures, algorithms, sound programming, and coding skills. In addition, companies seek employees who are flexible, adaptable, and who proactively embrace future trends and drive disruptive outcomes. While there are no major challenges, we notice that the pandemic has restricted student’s exposure to practical situations, which in turn is limiting their articulation of problem statement and application thinking. However, companies are making it up by introducing initiatives that provide employees with enriching experiences. Forward-looking organizations adopt agile, adaptable, and flexible policies to help their new hires, improve overall productivity, and build a culture of engagement, ownership, and accountability,” states Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and MD, SAP Labs India.
Along similar lines, Sankalp Saxena, SVP and MD-Operations, India, Nutanix believes that a proactive mindset along with adaptability is a plus. “With multiple industries undergoing transformation, the next generation of innovators, artists and thinkers need encouragement and as many opportunities as organizations can provide. We’ve witnessed accelerated digital adoption since the pandemic, and as companies adapt their cloud requirements for the future, their staff skill requirements are also changing. Along with more application and software skills, a whole host of personal qualities will make individuals successful at anything they do – qualities such as a proactive mindset; adaptability in picking up and combining new skills, and an enthusiasm for learning. As hybrid work models become the new reality, cross-team functionality, collaborative working and the ability to communicate across a variety of time zones, teams, cultures and business units will increase in importance,” he notes.
Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, senior vice president, head of HR (Global) and corporate quality, CSS Corp, says: “India has a large workforce with skillsets that need to be honed and upgraded with changing times. Sixty-five percent of India’s 1.2 billion people are below the age of 35 years, according to the 2011 Census. While the demographic effect will increase or lower gross domestic product (GDP) by barely one percentage point in 2035, GDP levels can increase by about 3 percentage points in 2035 if India improves significantly on skill training, according to the World Trade Organization. It goes without saying that the need of the hour is training and upskilling the young workforce across disruptive technologies to make them more employable and align their skillsets with industry standards.”