C. P. Gurnani is MD and CEO, Tech Mahindra.
The first half of the year 2021 is already gone and the world is treading cautiously on the growth path with a lot of hope. A country’s youth indeed represent the ‘master key’ that can unlock future opportunities, provided their fertile minds are sowed well with quality seeds. One should never stop learning and if the process of learning is channelised and nurtured from the very beginning, it helps in shaping sharp-minded professionals who can ‘think through’ to deliver successful outcomes.
The rapid adoption of digital technologies can pave way for more job opportunities for the youth of the country, for which skill development is the key. As we continue to exchange thoughts on bouncing back, the business world will need to nurture the digital skill sets of its workforce and make efforts to enhance their cognitive, social, and emotional skills to make them agile and resilient to handle any unpredictable situation.
The World Economic Forum projects that by 2022 at least 54 percent of all employees will need re-skilling and upskilling to respond to the changing work requirements. This explains why upskilling and re-skilling strategies will be core in bringing about more long-term changes in future workplaces in post-Covid world. I personally endorse a 'three-pronged' approach for the youth of our country to continue to stay relevant by igniting their minds with proper skilling.
Young minds should develop a ‘Bias for Action’
One of the greatest qualities required to make a positive difference in the world is the 'bias for action'. It simply means having a tendency to favour action over inaction. The essence lies in thinking innovatively, recognising the need of the hour, reading the pulse of the market and executing the game plan as fast as possible to drive better results and growth. Embarking on the skilling journey early on in life helps in becoming thoughtful of our realities, in developing solutions that are apt for the situation, and in fostering an innovation ecosystem.
It has been reported that upskilling initiatives have the potential to create 5.3 million new jobs globally by 2030. We have all seen micro and small businesses taking a digital leap amidst the pandemic to deliver service excellence to customers. From pharmacies to groceries to healthcare, entertainment, and education—people across industries embraced digital to match steps with the changing times. Right skilling is thus crucial in deciphering gaps in the existing system, challenging the status quo and designing disruptive solutions.
Have a never-ending hunger to 'Learn, Unlearn and Re-learn'
Be it our personal or professional lives, today everything is driven by technology, which is why familiarity with technology should be built purposefully. To keep pace with the dynamically changing world, we should not only learn continuously but also be ready to unlearn some aspects and also re-learn the new way. For instance, a few years back, the concept of interactive learning videos for kids may not have been quite acceptable. However, today we have learned to unlearn some of the old methods of learning and have understood that interactive videos and bite-sized learning modules can in some ways make the learning process much more engaging and easier. Similarly, a few years back, physical and face-to-face business meetings were the only mode preferred, but today, being in an organisation means that we have to be flexible in terms of unlearning and learning the new ways of connecting virtually over digital means. Reverse mentoring by millennials is an excellent way to learn, unlearn and re-learn and this will, in turn, nurture the bonds between employees irrespective of age. I invest a considerable amount of time in connecting and learning from the young generation both at the workplace and outside the workplace. This helps me to view and approach situations from different perspectives.
Be a Master of Multiple Disciplines
Put on the different caps and you will be amazed to see what you can accomplish. In today’s hyper-connected, digital world, becoming a 'master of all trades' or 'knowing all the trades' is very important. Diversity of knowledge and ideas is good for shaping our future generation. Someone could be interested in becoming an entrepreneur and a teacher and a scientist—young minds should be allowed to train in a variety of skills to nurture their interests and pursue them. We must focus on nurturing soft skills such as communication, creative problem-solving and entrepreneurial abilities to build an agile and resilient mindset. There is also the need for greater integration of higher education with vocational training. As technology is rapidly evolving, organisations are looking for full-stack professionals who can understand and implement solutions end-to-end, which require gaining mastery in multiple disciplines within an organisation. Survival in a new normal world depends largely on collaboration and co-creation. Therefore, a collaboration between all the stakeholders is important, including employers, government, and working professionals.
The responsibility of fulfilling the dreams of a resilient and Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) lies greatly on the shoulders of our youth. With their disruptive thinking, digital skills, human competency, and the quest for excellence, the future changemakers are going to be force multipliers for economies worldwide.
The writer is MD and CEO of Tech Mahindra.