Upskilling is the new normal. Be it students or working professionals, skilling, upskilling and reskilling is no longer a choice but a necessity. According to Great Learning, a leading global EdTech company for higher education and professional training, 79% of professionals including freshers upskilled their career in 2022 and the number is projected at 83% in 2023. The demand for skill proficiency too increased 25% in 2022 and is expected to rise up to 41% in 2025. Taking note of the ever increasing talent gap in all the sectors, the government too is focusing on upskilling and many initiatives have been taken to empower the youth with essential skill sets. Many flagship programs like the Skill India Mission have been
spearheading the change with much positive results.
Upskilling a ‘must-have’ trait
With upskilling becoming the next magic mantra, the focus is on starting early. Calling upskilling a ‘must-have’ trait, Mr AK Srikanth, CEO at KLAY, India’s largest playschool says, “Our endeavor is more in terms of having them completely comfortable with the way the world evolves. At the age group we focus on, children are constantly learning and thus constantly upskilling. We put the spotlight on helping them to be ‘lifelong learners’, in other words, inculcate a love for the learning process itself without necessarily being hooked to an outcome. The methodology we follow is based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences system developed at Harvard University – and this aims to make learning fun by letting the child follow her/his instincts on how to learn the concept.” KLAY is India's largest pre-school and daycare chain and their pedagogy allows young kids to focus on upskilling as they are provided with the best ecosystem to inculcate personal growth. Mr Srikanth further added, “Our methodologies make children embrace change as a constant. And the outcome of this is - children grow up constantly endeavoring to imbibe more.”
Learning and upskilling today has moved beyond books and new-age institutes are exploring innovative ways to help students stay a notch higher with modern-day skills. Sharing his opinion on upskilling, Mr Gaurav Bhagat, Founder Gaurav Bhagat Academy says, “In the fast evolving career space, it is important that students and young professionals should focus on upskilling, and the sooner one starts the better it is. Children from a very young age should focus on learning new skills and this has a two-prong effect. Firstly, the child is learning something new or picking up a skill, secondly learning something new always opens up a person's mental faculties which trains the young brain to be more receptive to new learnings always. We believe that learning should always be fun and intuitive. Keeping this in mind we have designed special board games which will give a more engaging and immersive experience to the user. Lakshya - the goal setting game is a great way to stay engaged and learn the art of setting goals in a fun and scientific way. It can be played by all, from six-year-olds to those in their eighties." The Gaurav Bhagat Academy gives a lot of emphasis to board games as an enabler to learn skills from an early stage in a constructive manner.
Towards a future-ready workforce
In today's education landscape, continuous upskilling of students is crucial to meet the evolving demands of the industry. Developing skills such as innovation, creativity, social and emotional intelligence, research proficiency, critical thinking, and complex problem-solving abilities are essential for ensuring positive student outcomes, says Pro-Chancellor Prof. (Dr.) Rakesh Kumar Sharma, SGT University. Lauding the new National Education Policy, Prof. Sharma says, “The NEP 2020 serves as a practical blueprint for the holistic development of young individuals. It aims to reform the education system by emphasizing the acquisition of core essential skills. NEP 2020 focuses on nurturing students' personalities and skill sets, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, promoting sound mental health, encouraging scientific and critical thinking, and providing significant educational opportunities. With a modern outlook, it aims to build a knowledge-based society characterized by a scientific temper. This upskilling approach prepares students to face the challenges of tomorrow in their careers.”
In the international job market, upskilling has always been appreciated and also rewarded. The trend is fast catching up in India too across sectors. As per the report, upskilling has helped 43% of professionals gain career growth within their organization, while 23% were able to switch to a different domain and 18% were able to secure a new job in 2022. And joining the bandwagon are many start-ups like RISE, an innovative ed-tech institute focused on upskilling and reskilling. Mr. Gaurv Bhatia, CEO at RISE commenting on the importance of upskilling says, “It is crucial in today's rapidly evolving professional landscape and changing demands of the job market. I believe upskilling is essential for both individuals and organizations to thrive in an increasingly competitive and technology-driven world. It enables individuals to remain relevant, broaden their expertise, and seize new opportunities, while organizations benefit from a skilled workforce capable of meeting emerging challenges.” The biggest challenge today is the gap between education and the industry needs, and institutes like RISE are working towards bridging this gap by creating industry driver courses with industry experts, thereby helping our students to have real world exposure, with hands-on, practical training. He further added, “We focus on all aspects of upskilling, be it skill or knowledge base or the softer skills required for navigating the complex dynamics of an organization. We believe a future ready candidate should have an all rounded skill set.” RISE is among the first movers in creating courses which are future oriented like Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity or AIM.
Upskilling, the need of the hour
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has had far reaching consequences in the education landscape. It has disrupted the normal functioning of higher education institutions, including teaching, learning, examinations, innovation, and research. Prof.(Dr.) Rajesh Kumar Sinha, Dean - Academics, SGT University says, “There have been shifts in learning spaces, delivery methods, teaching and learning responsibilities, and evaluation methods. Digital Technology Enhanced Education has emerged as the new norm. The advent of online tools and software has facilitated the seamless transition to digital classrooms and virtual spaces. This in other words is upskilling.” He further added that the major challenge ahead lies in making education accessible, creative, innovative, and personalized. And that is exactly where upskilling comes into play.
With the combined effort of the government, institutes and start-ups, the stage is set for creating a robust and skillful workforce. In the recent 2023 budget, the Union government has provided the much-needed boost with the revamped Pradhan Mantri Kausal Vikas Yojna and many other similar initiatives which aim at imparting the latest skills to students and young professionals. It is an ongoing process and the employees and employer both should create a conducive atmosphere where upskilling is made normal and an integral part of institutes and organizations.