A recent report by World Bank showed that there will be 8.5 lakh, new entrants, in the job market each month until 2024. However, according to the India Skills Report 2014, less than 30% of students entering the job market are able to meet the criteria set by employers. Focusing on the skills youngsters require to thrive in the current job market and be prepared for future circumstances, uKnowva & SkillsConnect conducted a panel discussion that was joined by key industry leaders Pauline Cautinho (VP and Head HR at Interactive Avenues), Shikha Bakshi (Director TA at Tiger Analytics), Biren Anshu (CHRO at the Hi-Tech Robotics Systemz Limited), Sunil Kabra (Director at Ace Human Capital) and Vicky Jain (Founder and CEO of uKnowva). The event was moderated by Ranu Parwal, Founder of Acura Solutions & SkillConnect) and Bistriti Poddar, Chief Communications Officer (CCO) of uKnowva.
In India, hiring organisations are reporting a serious skills gap between current and prospective employees. From hard skills to soft skills, high-level executives report that they believe that a majority of fresher candidates are underskilled. In fact, they even believe that a significant percentage of them are lacking essential soft skills including collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. What does this mean? It means that many fresh graduates are lacking some of the most desired skills for the future.
When asked about the most essential skills that fresher candidates require in this competitive job market, Pauline Cautinho highlighted that as the workforce is getting more digitised, employers now mostly look for digitally literate candidates with soft skills like critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and innovation. Simultaneously, Biren Anshu pointed out that it is important for a fresher to have a strong grasp of the subject and demonstrate the learnings on the job. Apart from sound technical know-how to navigate the rapidly growing, interconnected digital world successfully, they must also understand basics like spreadsheets, social media, and the latest software relevant to their domain, he emphasised. Shikha Bakshi was quick to point out that apart from technical knowledge, cognitive skills can give a fresher a leg up on the competition. They’re typically more difficult to measure, but they can also help a person thrive in a variety of roles and industries.
“When considering what skills one should learn for the future, it’s important to think about what will be relevant to his/her career and what is most desired by companies. India has a sizeable STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduate supply, estimated at some 2.14 million per year. However, only about 35% of such graduates are employable in the tech sector. This is worrying when one considers the industry discourse, projecting new-age digital skills like AI, ML, low code development and cybersecurity to become base skills by 2030. While exploring the idea of learning technical skills, it’s smart to consider which ones will be the most in-demand skills for the future. Tech is a broad field, and there are a lot of interesting directions one can go in. But it’s also a field that evolves rapidly, so one will want to keep his/her finger on the pulse of hot technologies like AI. Other than technical skills, cognitive flexibility, and emotional and social intelligence are also equally important. Everything can be replaced by digital technologies and artificial intelligence and emotional and social intelligence remain uniquely human capabilities. In some sectors, these qualities are absolutely crucial” said Mr Vicky Jain, Founder and CEO of uKnowva, 360-degree HRMS.