Upskilling India: The Great leap forward

Thanks to a plethora of online courses, the last six months have seen employees across organisations go on an upskilling spree seldom seen before

Two months back, LinkedIn brought out its June 2020 Labour Market Update. According this report skills in SQL, JavaScript, business analysis, Adobe Illustrator and sales management were most sought after in India. LinkedIn Learning has witnessed an uptick of about 176 per cent in content consumption in the last few months and quite predictably, remote working and productivity courses are the top picks by Indian professionals on the platform. The Indian labour market is undergoing a massive overhaul with its workforce focusing on preparing itself for a highly dynamic environment.

Last December, Bharat Baskaran had taken a break in his career after having worked in the learning and development space for many years. But as he began looking for new jobs in March, the situation had changed on-ground. “During the lockdown, I was wondering what I could do apart from applying for jobs and came across this wonderful course to become a life coach. It went with the work I had already been doing,” says Bharat.

Bharat has not been alone in this search for courses online. “Since late February, when countries first began to evaluate stay-at-home orders and national closures, we saw course enrollments increase by more than 425 per cent globally at the end of March. In India alone, we saw a 200 per cent increase in course enrollments. That tells us that people are turning to online learning to stay competitive at their jobs and transition to new ones,” says Irwin Anand, managing director for Udemy India‌.

Battling Uncertainty
Several factors have been responsible for this race to upskill. The job market scene and the layoffs have only made it clearer that the fittest alone might be able to survive in the long run. “Today, one cannot overemphasize the importance of skilling for mid-career professionals in an era where the shelf-life of knowledge is reducing more rapidly than ever. Individuals are looking at engaging in meaningful learning, in order to prepare themselves for a competitive future,” says Arjun Mohan, CEO – India, upGrad.

Across platforms, an attempt has been made to make courses more affordable too, which are certified by universities across the globe. “With technology taking over our ecosystem, we have seen the workforce rapidly switching gear towards digital literacy in the last few years. Thus, the domain of data science is most popular, followed by digital marketing. Areas of Machine learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are also popular amidst our current workforce, as the in-demand jobs of today and future require a fair amount of interaction with data and the skillset to work in a digital ecosystem. The digital macro-trend, coupled with an increase in usage of data, is going to now drive the workplace ecosystem,” says Arjun.

Competitive Edge

According to the research conducted by LinkedIn in June, competition for jobs had doubled compared to six months ago, with the average number of applications per job posted on LinkedIn increasing from around 90 in January 2020, to 180 in June 2020. Irwin has seen a tremendous surge in demand for courses related to communication skills, financial analysis and business fundamentals. In a way, people are making an attempt to gain a more rounded understanding of the functioning of a business. The spurt in the start-up ecosystem also mirrors this trend. Upskilling is also a way to move outside their current domains and switch to something that they see as more sustainable. As the LinkedIn report suggests, workers are seeking out new job opportunities with broader set of job options in mind.

Making the choice Not all courses are being done always with a career in mind. Some are simply to explore a knowledge area that a person has been curious about. But when the goals to pursue a course are specific, there are a few factors to keep in mind. “The first factor is one’s requirement. Secondly, choosing a programme that is affiliated with renowned institutions or that have received accreditations from national or international bodies is critical. Thirdly, the financial aspect of the program will have a notable bearing in your selection process. We recommend that you weigh the cost of the program and the value you derive from it before you make the final call,” explains Arjun.

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