Reports from the industry say that over 100 million and more Indian jobs will be at risk during and after the COVID-19 lockdown stage. “COVID-19 is having a massive impact on jobs. The job market after the pandemic will be different from the one that existed before. In the new job market, people will have to wear multiple hats and continue to remain relevant to keep their jobs,” says Shveta Raina, Founder and CEO, Talerang, an Education Management Company that is focused on providing career training to students and professionals. In an email interaction with Higher Education Digest, Shveta Raina talks about her thoughts on the future of the job market, the importance of upskilling, how to upgrade the skills continuously to remain employable in a competitive job market, and many more.
As an impact of COVID-19, jobs that will not add value to any business will quickly perish. What are your thoughts on the future of the job market?
The unemployment rate in many parts of the world is in the double digits, something no one could have predicted late last year. So much has happened over the past few months that many have forgotten that the Indian economy was already slowing before the pandemic. The pandemic has further exacerbated the country’s economic woes. Covid-19 is definitely having a massive impact on jobs.
It is unrealistic to expect that once lockdowns end, everyone will return to work, and things will go back to as they were before. For one thing, many lost jobs will not return. This is because, during the lockdown, many businesses have re-examined how they work. While many have closed for good, others have turned to hire freelancers who can work from home or have tried to automate processes. As a result, the traditional 9 am to 6 pm work from office model of work has been disrupted. Cost-cutting will happen at a company level, and as certain departments close and other industries suffer, millions of roles will become redundant.
In addition to industry-wide layoffs due to poor financial results, individual employee performance will also play a role. While mediocre performance at work was tolerated by some employers before Covid-19, following the pandemic companies will demand exceptional performance from all their employees. That’s because only robust businesses will survive after the pandemic passes and companies will have limited funds to invest in their people. Such companies will operate in a far different environment than the one that existed before the epidemic. Their workforce will have to be bright and exceptionally adaptable to a new way of working. A new way of working is what lies ahead. This is because the behavioural changes people have adopted over the past few weeks and months will become the norm. People will consume services in a new way. The online world will shape much of peoples’ economic decisions. Employees who know how to add value in such a society will have a higher chance of having successful careers.
Considering the current situations, what impact will upskilling create on graduates and working professionals?
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated trends that were burgeoning before the outbreak. Before the epidemic, it was common knowledge that people needed to upgrade their skills continuously to remain employable in a competitive job market. This trend has received a massive impetus. The job market after the pandemic will be different from the one that existed before. In the new job market, people will have to wear multiple hats and continue to remain relevant to keep their jobs. It won’t be enough for a marketing professional to know marketing. He or she will have to understand digital marketing, SEO, and how to create compelling content. While a degree will remain relevant in the world that is soon to arrive, every professional, including those in their early 20s will have to upgrade their skills.
Communication skills, comfort with technology, high emotional intelligence, motivation and resilience will be valued. Those who expect to succeed in the new job market may be enrolled in courses throughout their lives. Doing so maybe the only way people will be able to remain productive until they are ready for retirement.
Thinking that a significant the chunk of future jobs in India will be in areas of Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, what needs to be done to fill the industry-academia gap?
There is undoubtedly a gap between what is taught in most schools and colleges and the skills employers need. Shortly, digital technologies will be all-encompassing. AI is still in its infancy but is advancing quickly and shows tremendous potential. More businesses are using analytics than ever before, and robots are so well designed that they exceed the expectations industry experts had of them just a decade ago. So while we are on the cusp of three significant advances in technology, much of what engineering students learn in school is outdated. In many colleges across India, students are taught technologies that were obsolete decades ago.
To make education more relevant, there needs to be a greater exchange between industry and academia. Typically, academia revises its course curriculum only once every few years or even after decades. However, technology is developing so rapidly that what was learned in the first year at university is outdated by the time student’s graduate. In such a rapidly changing world, the only way to keep curriculum relevant is by regularly taking inputs from industry. When a curriculum is designed with contributions from industry, the result is that students learn skills that let them find employment in the subjects they studied in college.
In addition to tech skills, individuals will need to develop their overall competencies and business tool-kit to thrive in a highly competitive environment that the new normal poses.
Since the demand for skill-based learning is growing, what Education 4.0 offers to fulfil the same? How does Talerang aim to resolve the problem of skilled professionals?
Education 4.0 is a great initiative. Under it, every student will be well versed with technologies that will be commonplace in offices and homes soon. These technologies include AI and robotics. The traditional model of learning in which students learned seated before a blackboard is coming to an end. Education 4.0 points to learning becoming more about doing rather than memorizing. Students will have to learn how to interact with AI and how to use it to solve a wide range of problems. AI is a powerful technology that can learn much on its own; students will have to leverage this potent tool to solve everyday problems.
Talerang helps students and professionals from the assessment to the training and finally, the placement stage of their careers. The key is to understand the strengths and potential of a candidate, upskill them through intensive course-work and projects and finally map them to their dream organization once they are industry-ready. This process of taking someone from college to corporate is what we call work-readiness.
Do we have a demand-supply gap in the training industry? What are the offerings from Talerang to ensure that everyone has access to the best learning opportunities possible regardless of this economic situation?
There is a demand-supply gap in the training industry. Good trainers are in short supply. That’s one reason there is so much competition to get into the best institutes. Our facilitators are professionals from organizations such as McKinsey, KPMG, Teach For India, Aon Hewitt, ZS Associates, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, LSE and more! They have gone through rigorous training and certification to ensure quality training is delivered. They can impart real-world skills to students, thereby preparing them for their first job. What someone may learn over months or years in a new role, Telerang teaches in a relatively short period through practical training, activities, experiential learning, access to internships and jobs. Talerang enjoys 95%+ approval ratings from students who love the training experience and 90%+ corporates who hire from us find the talent to be exceptionally work-ready.
Equipped with more considerable skill, competencies, and confidence students who enrol with Talerang are significantly more employable than they were earlier. They hit the ground running when they join a new organization. Also, a Talerang internship or job (we have a 99% placement rate) gives young people access to a strong alumni network which instils in them confidence, teaches them how to network, and prepares them to excel in the corporate world. Our incredible 350+ corporate partners offer internships and live projects to our students across industries such as pharma, marketing, finance, digital, technology and more!
Where does India lack when it comes to corporate hiring?
At Talerang, we found that 50% of students in their final year of college believed they were not ready to join the workforce. This is a huge number and is likely lower than the percentage of students who are prepared to enter the corporate world. A challenge India faces in corporate hiring is that recruits are not ready to make a smooth transition to the corporate world. Too many students are forced to learn on the job. This period of learning may be as long as a year and in some cases, even longer. Corporates have no way to figure out which interviewee will be a good employee. This lacuna makes every corporate hiring a bigger gamble than it should be.
Why short – term courses (1.5 – 3 months) are helpful for professionals at any level?
To succeed in a new economy, professionals will have to become students regularly. There is a wealth of knowledge in the world, and more are being added every day. To apply new knowledge to the business, students will have to enrol in short term courses regularly- perhaps throughout their lives. While degrees will remain relevant, regular courses that keep students abreast with the newest findings will make the difference between career success and failure. It’s important to note that young professionals need the best start possible. That’s what Talerang offers them.
Is the content necessary for skill creation? How is Talerang making content effective and exciting?
Content plays a vital role in skill creation. At Talerang, we are making content effective by infusing it with fun and making it interactive. Our courses help improve their confidence, social skills, and make them better communicators. Every student who joins Talerang’s programs is rewarded with a broader outlook and global perspective. In a relatively short period, young students mature into professionals who understand the demands of the corporate world.
What is your advice to the working professionals across the sector?
I would firstly encourage working professionals to gain practical exposure and develop emotional quotient. Learning and reflecting from every experience, no matter how challenging is a key to growing as a professional. The ability is to maintain composure and work with different types of people in diverse settings.
Secondly, think about what you are giving to the organization you work in, instead of what you are gaining is the first step to adding real value. Companies are struggling to survive, and they need people who are willing to give their 100%. They will reward such people over those who are inward-looking.
Thirdly, we are all operating in resource strained environments today. The ability to work with limited resources and manage time effectively by applying creative and innovative methods is important. Think outside the box and solve challenging problems instead of complaining or being negative, and you will become an asset to any company.
About Shveta Raina
Shveta Raina is a strong entrepreneurship professional and Founder and CEO of Talerang. A business enthusiast and visionary in her field, Shveta started her entrepreneurial journey in 2013. Translating business strategy into actionable goals for the growth of the company, Shveta proves that the land of success is owned by doers. The business enthusiast is erudite with a strong academic background. Shveta has attended some top-flight universities – Bachelor of Arts, Applied Mathematics, International Relations, Economics from Brown University in 2007, and Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 2013.
With many awards and recognitions to her name, Shveta has been an all-rounder in her professional journey so far. The visionary entrepreneur was identified as a Rising Woman Leader 2015 by Economic Times and Spencer Stuart. Additionally, she was listed as a Woman of Worth 2015 by India Today. She has also been facilitated with the Young Womenpreneur 2017 Award by the DICE Ecosystem and Governor of Maharashtra; Women Entrepreneur of the year 2018 at Inbush Era World Summit and Woman Achiever Award by the Women Economic Forum.