One of the greatest challenges that businesses across the world currently face is the shortage of skilled talent. The problem is not unique to any particular industry or region. It is a global phenomenon, although some countries are affected more severely than the others, Japan and India, notably. It is precisely to address this problem that most developed countries have immigration programmes designed to attract skilled labour.
The reasons for the shortage of skills are many. The education system is at least partly to blame, but in this era of rapidly changing technology, one of the greatest challenges that companies face, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, is the rise in redundancy of skills due to technological disruptions. It is not just individuals, but even companies that suffer from redundancy. In fact, rapid changes in technology pose challenges unprecedented in human history to individuals, the industry, the education system and policymakers, to keep pace.
Admittedly, there are no easy solutions to this problem. However, the following measures can help bridge the gap.
- Upskilling online: Thanks to the internet, online learning offers the option of learning online while, at the same time, giving trainers and training institutes the benefit of far greater reach than was possible in traditional methods of teaching. This helps bring down costs, due to which new skills like Power BI Training, for instance, can be acquired online without a huge investment in terms of time or money.
- Employee Training: For companies, one fairly simple solution to the redundancy conundrum is to periodically upskill existing employees. As we have already discussed earlier, online upskilling is easily doable. By investing in upgrading the skills of their employees, companies can not only get around the problem but also improve staff retention. As any manager would agree, retaining an existing employee is preferable to searching for new, unproven talent.
- Internships: Most university courses across the world already include an internship programme, so that students can acquire practical skills that will hold them in good stead when they graduate from university. Companies can capitalise on the opportunity to identify and groom potential future employees. This should at least partially help address the global employability problem.
- Industry-academia collaboration: With the speed at which technology is evolving, universities are increasingly struggling to keep their syllabus as well as the style of pedagogy relevant to the times. Greater collaboration between industry and academia can help both sides immensely. For universities, it improves the relevance of their courses while for businesses, it means that academic institutions produce people who are well suited to their requirements. Such initiatives are already underway and it would be a safe bet that we are likely to see many more in the future.
- Faculty upgradation: The measures we have discussed so far centre around students. However, it is also important to remember that even the people who are going to impart education to them need to update their skills periodically to ensure that they can prepare students for the challenges to come. This is another area where industry and academia can work in tandem.
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