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The pandemic has brought in new challenges in the job markets, and Indian job markets are feeling the pinch in particular. The India chief executive of Salesforce, Arundhati Bhattacharya said in February that Indian IT is struggling with a skills shortage crisis. Jobseekers have already been rethinking their career choices, eyeing more ‘meaningful’ jobs.

At the same time, the demand for digital skills has significantly risen, requiring a workforce that has adaptability in terms of their skills and competencies and the ability to switch gears to meet the increasing requirements of the business.

Read more: What makes a company a great place to work? Case study

The reality is that there is a significant digital skill gap, and enterprises are struggling to find people who have a sound techno-functional understanding and who are industry-ready. Availability of quality talent is a limiting factor for digital enterprise initiatives. It presents both a challenge and a significant opportunity for the talent pool.

For example, the future of work has completely changed, making it clear that hybrid workplaces are here to stay. But, to be effective and productive contributors in the hybrid workplaces of the future, professionals will need to evolve an essential set of cognitive, social and behavioural skills to navigate ever-new challenges.

Certain areas are showing particular shortages. For instance, most in-demand engineering roles increasingly use and consume APIs as part of their day-to-day work, but most developers only learn about APIs once they start their career.

The sudden switch in workplaces was confusing to navigate, but now that we have had the time to settle in, there is a need for working professionals to re-calibrate skill sets to make the most out of this new way of working

In another area, underlining the crushing impact on India’s manufacturing and exports ecosystem, a new survey by global B2B sourcing platform BuyHive found that full-time job opportunities have shrunk for sourcing professionals during the pandemic.

(Sourcing and procurement professionals provide a vital link between exporters and global buyers and are typically employed by the latter for identifying and dealing with local manufacturers and suppliers. India is home to over two million sourcing professionals, according to BuyHive’s estimates.)

84% of the sourcing and procurement professionals interviewed by BuyHive confirmed that job opportunities have declined across the board when compared to the pre-Covid era. Corresponding to trends seen in other functions and industries, the BuyHive survey revealed that availability of jobs was highest for junior or entry level professionals, whereas they were significantly lower for senior professionals.

“As Covid-19 impacted trade fairs, business events and travel, a significant proportion of sourcing professionals found themselves out of work. However, this survey points to a bleak outlook for full-time employment opportunities despite an imminent return to normalcy and the opening up of travel,” said Minesh Pore, CEO and co-founder of BuyHive.

BuyHive’s survey included 124 senior-level sourcing professionals across India that too with a minimum of 10 years of industry experience, several having worked for reputed global brands like Walmart, Tesco, Target, and The Home Depot.

Another long impacted area is cybersecurity. According to ISACA’s new survey report, State of Cybersecurity 2022: Global Update on Workforce Efforts, Resources and Cyber Operations, 60% of Indian organisations have unfilled cybersecurity positions and 42% report their organisation’s cybersecurity team is understaffed. Even more concerning is that 59% believe that less than half of their applicants are well qualified for the position they are applying. This reflects a skilling gap as well as a hiring and retention challenge.

In February, Harappa, an Indian online institution for behavioural skilling, found in their Hybrid Readiness Survey (HRS) 2022 that 78% professionals want employers to upskill them for hybrid work.

Respondents across career stages, from CXOs to team members, agreed that skilful teamwork is their number one priority followed by taking ownership and learning agility. Fostering trust, collaborative orientation and productive delegation are the top skills that respondents seek in their leaders.

Shreyasi Singh, Co-founder and CEO, Harappa, said, “The sudden switch in workplaces was confusing to navigate, but now that we have had the time to settle in, there is a need for working professionals to re-calibrate skill sets to make the most out of this new way of working.”

Students from tier 2, 3, and 4 cities find it even more difficult to navigate suitable jobs due to a gap in their employability skills. Despite educational qualifications and college degrees, these students lack communication skills, financial literacy, life skills and digital skills.

What is being done about this?

Upskilling Efforts

The ecosystem does respond to the problems, as organisations put forth ideas and efforts to upskill the workforce. For example, forced by shortage of healthcare staff, Indian healthcare organisations are changing the way they recruit healthcare personnel and looking at reskilling and upskilling the medical workforce.

Recently, Geekster, an EdTech focused on providing technical education to aspirants, announced increasing manpower by a 50% to be able to cater to the increased demand. Additionally, the brand also announced an ambitious target to upskill over 1000 students in the next two quarters under Full Stack Web Development Programme.

Harappa has recently launched its tailored upskilling program for Hybrid workplaces with two self-paced courses, Leading Others and Managing the Hybrid Workplace.

Postman, an API platform, will open an API Lab at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani) to promote API literacy amongst students and aspiring developers as APIs become more critical in today’s digital world. Set to open in December 2022, the Lab will cultivate interest in APIs and provide a space for students to build new skills through ideating, innovating, and tinkering with new projects.

Avaali, the shared service automation provider for large enterprises partnered with KSIT and KSSEM University in Bangalore, Karnataka and GEIT University, Gunupur, Odisha, to set up a Digital Centre of Excellence to build the skill pool focused on various technologies, including procure to pay automation, enterprise content management, robotic process automation, process mining and core development skills.

GetWork, a SaaS-based campus placement platform, launched an exclusive GetWork club for its userbase of college students to maximize the monetary and learning benefits to its student users from across the country. It aims to establish the newly launched club as India’s first rewards club for 1st-time job seekers with a special focus on Tier 3 and 4 market.

Read more: An upskilled diverse workforce speaks productivity

Last week, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Masai School partnered to skill Indian youth for tech jobs through an outcome-driven skilling model. The collaboration aims to benefit the lives of over 1.5 lakh students and their families in tier 2 and 3 cities over a period of seven years.

Upskilling the existing workforce as well as pushing for a higher skilled and more prepared workforce is the answer for the current crisis. After all, an upskilled diverse workforce speaks productivity.


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