15 Jun CAREER-SPECIFIC SKILLS: THE MARKET DEMAND AND OUR RELEVANCE
From technology to operational processes to adopted business methodologies, everything has been changing in the world in the last 15 years at a very fast pace – be it in manufacturing, or servicing; with Govt and non-government sectors. Also ever evolving are their needs that require their employees to scale up with due knowledge upgrades and upskilled talents. The Pandemic of Covid-19 has extremely influenced these changes.
UPDATING AND UPSKILLING:
Hence, we must understand very well the nature of the ‘new normal’ to survive and succeed in our personal, professional, and ministerial roles; not only to be relevant to the current context of challenges and opportunities but also to avoid becoming obsolete and getting fired! The Bible says the horse should be prepared for the battle well (Proverbs 21:31); so we are in our professions. The Lord taught Joshua that the strategy applied to capture Jericho (Joshua 6) was no more relevant to take on Ai (Joshua 8). God instructed the Israelites while going for various battles differently: once to take on the targeted city head-on, another time to adopt an ambush and running away (to invite out the city men to chase them) but only to return soon and burn that city by sandwiching its warriors to win over them. Similarly, we need to update our professional knowledge, upskill our capabilities to continue to be in demand in employment, at least at the same pace the employers are going through changes and challenges. We need to be people who understand the changing times and seasons, and the threats and opportunities they bring in (Matthew 16:3).
THE NEW NORMAL:
As for organizations, dynamic and faster change of everything will be the new normal. Unless an organization does everything to adapt to such rapidly changing trends, faster than their competitors, the perils of steep fall will be imminent and quicker.
Any organization can survive in the future only if it masters over on key performance indicators like productivity, quality, efficiency, product effectiveness, service delivery, etc (both to meet its potential levels, and to win over the competition); not as an occasional exercise, rather on a continuum. ‘Continuous Improvement’ of everything has become the norm for survival. Hence, organizations not only try to adopt new futuristic trends but also resort back again to traditional ones like Lean Manufacturing, Kaizen, Quality Management tools, etc.
This challenge of an organization demands it to hire and retain ‘only’ those employees who can contribute effectively to help it face its challenges; it also means that, in the future, it won’t hesitate to replace the non-contributing staff team by re-hiring fresh and younger talents. Retaining the same set of employees who don’t upskill themselves to be future-compatible, but with an ever-increasing annual cost of their salary increments, is not going to happen for long.
Employers have also started moving away from lifetime engagements of employees towards adopting the ‘gig economy’ of project-based hiring for a shorter season assignment, and task-based remuneration (just the financial value of the work done). While this poses a serious job-security risk to comfortably-settled employees, those upskilled ones with futuristic talents and
certifications, will not only continue to retain their great jobs but also will be in huge demand with ever-increasing pay-packs from multiple job providers. It may also lead to the opportunity that they will be
capable of getting job-orders of 100s or 1000s of hours a week, which they can garner from organizations and provide jobs to others, which will potentially make them become
entrepreneurs (service providers), hiring employees in dozens to many 100s!! Those who have upgraded skills and certifications will be provided with more (Matthew 25:29)!!
Let’s see below some highlights of trends that impact Individual employee levels:
- Career-specific skills are more in demand in addition to general skills.
- Gaps between one’s academics-based knowledge vis-à-vis practical application of them in their work are no more tolerated.
- Academic courses alone are not enough to go forward, whereas job-specific professional certifications are needed for job retention and faster promotions.
- People typically wish for dream jobs according to their qualifications rather than acquiring new skills and certifications, whereas whatever the fast-track career growth professionals used to
- do previously, are now expected with every employee.
- Continuous ‘Updating and upskilling’ is not only the norm of the IT industry but every other industry as well.
- Everyone got to be a specialist in some area mandatorily, as generalists face serious insecurity.
THE NEW OPPORTUNITY:
Hence it is so important to understand the new trends of job opportunities, which can help us understand the kind of skill-sets that are in demand:
1. External world context: While the IT industry has opened up great opportunities during the past 4 to 5 decades, and will
continue to evolve itself and take the world ahead technologically, some of the other important new demand industries that are promising to provide opportunities currently and in the coming decades, are: Biological sciences (including Bio-Technology, Pharma, Research, etc), Internet-based digital solutions (including Augmented reality developing, Social media marketing, virtual teaching, online coaching, etc), Physical and Cyber Security solutions, Virtual gaming (that will evolve into industrial usage like forecasting), etc. Many of them are available on office-site as well as work-from-home models; they are also available on employment-based, or consulting models.
2. Workplace context: Inside any organization, a working professional can easily observe new business wings newly opening up in areas of Business Excellence/ Transformation, Big data analytics, Data mining, Machine learning, Data Science, Automation, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, etc. It is easy to ignore them today, whereas they are such powerful areas that are going to completely impact all the business processes of various business teams in an organization. The future is there and all the global big brands are hugely betting on them. They will be influencing the way work is being done currently in every process of every business team. As of now, there are hardly 15% takers of such jobs compared to the number of jobs available in such areas. There are
currently very high-paying jobs starting with around Rs. 8 lacs p.a. for a fresher, while Automation and Artificial Intelligence job roles fetch an average of around Rs. 18 to Rs. 22 lacs p.a. The real challenge is, they may soon easily eat up a majority of the non-specialist job roles. All the software majors are big-time gearing up to provide IT solutions towards this angle. Hardly a meager % of working professionals understand this serious risk, which also comes with great job change opportunities with hugesalary hikes, that requires just some certification of a few months training and related expertise. 2 major big global telecom brands, which are completely shifting their manufacturing operations to Automation and Artificial Intelligence, are soon to establish their global production centers in India, and soon most of the Indian manufacturers and service providers too will join the bandwagon. As we see in the Parable of Ten Virgins (Matthew 25), the wise ones will be greatly rewarded and those who are unprepared and lethargic will face severe repercussions.
3. Job level context: Whatever the work one does, (s)he can check what skills and qualifications are more required and in-demand (now and in the future) in that process. For example, someone working in Operations / processing roles can consider obtaining extra qualifications in the area of Analytics, or Quality management/audit. Those who are
already in such roles can consider areas of Transformation / Business excellence. Obtaining such certifications can open up future job opportunities by either promotion in the same organization, or by moving away to other opportunities. On the other hand,
whoever is already in such specialization roles (like QA or 6-Sigma), should be willing to shift back to mainline job roles like Operations, because many such roles are considered as NVA (Non-Value-Add luxuries) per ‘Lean’
philosophy (as not directly contributing the Value Streams (VSM) of the business).
THE ACTION REQUIRED:
Some areas of new opportunities highlighted above are only samples, and there may be some more such opportunities. When some traditional opportunities are closing, our God who faithfully sustains us will always ensure that the new opportunities are arising. Instead of waiting for the opportunities based on the qualifications we have, our students and graduates need to lift their eyes and see the abundance of opportunities ready for harvest (John 4:35)! The Lord will bless us with more, if we are faithful and proactive in small things, we will receive more to handle (Matthew 25:29). Are we ready?!!!
Peter Christopher Raj, has been with UESI since 1985, starting as an EU student for 8 years and later as a graduate in all major 6 cities of India. He has been responsible for Career Guidance Cell in UESI-TN for the last 4 years. Currently he is part of the OPEC. He served in corporate world for 17 years in Investment Banking sector from middle to top management roles. His specialization is in Operations, Quality Management & Process Transformation. Since 2014 he is freelancing as a Management Consultant. He is married to Anne, a structural engineer and works for a USA company, being part of global Quality Leadership team. He is blessed with two daughters, Mitchelle in 5th year Architecture & Sharon in 2nd year Biotechnology. They are based at Chennai.