As the domestic IT-ITes industry gathers momentum with market-driven demand for newer and faster solutions as a result of the pandemic, there can be no doubt that the social, cognitive and behavioural skills of an IT employee are taking center stage.
Experts believe that those technology professionals who have the ability to communicate efficiently, resolve conflicts, work well with teams and can find answers to the evolving consumer needs in a dynamic market, will be in indispensable. More so because emerging technologies continue to transform work and workplaces simultaneously.
Dr Pramath Raj Sinha, a seasoned expert in the domain of education, believes that there is a direct relationship between soft skills and staff efficiency, and greater effectiveness on the job translates to better overall business results.
“These types of skills are really missing in our workplace as well as in the academic sphere. These are foundational and evergreen skills that we call “Thrive Skills” that make the workforce resilient and ensure that they survive and thrive regardless of changes. These encompass cognitive, social and emotional behaviours.” Dr Sinha, who is the Founder & Chairman of Harappa and the Founding Dean of the Indian School of Business, added.
Sinha was speaking as part of a forum: The Economic Times Harappa Transformation Series. The congregation, which was the second installment of the larger four-part webinar series spanning across sectors and verticals, is an attempt to highlight the current challenges and opportunities around social, cognitive and behavioral skilling, by the two organisations.
Dr Sinha further explained, “Cognitive skills are associated with thinking and problem solving; social skills are associated with teamwork and communication and emotional skills are associated with the ability to control emotions at work and taking care of one’s mental state and well-being. Ultimately, this skillset complemented with technical skills makes one a complete professional.”
According to India’s premier IT industry body, NASSCOM, almost 60% of the domestic IT workforce would require reskilling continually, in view of the emerging industry trends, such as, rise of short-term jobs, super jobs that require more supervision and thirdly, the entry of the young generation in the workplace with an ongoing fundamental restructuring of organizations, as they become flatter, forming cross-functional teams across geographies. The industry body also says that the IT sector, one of the fastest growing in the country, was expected grow by 2.3% to $194 billion in FY 2020-21, adding about 1.3 lakh employees.
Explaining the need of these skills in the industry, Saransh Agrawal, AVP, Cognizant, explained, “Today we have employees working remotely from across geographies: The whole sales, business development, people engagement is now happening over zoom calls that are mostly video mute. It is becoming very difficult for the people manager to have the essential influencing conversations that are propelled by an emotional connect.”
Balaji Viswanathan, MD & CEO, Expleo Solutions, who was also a part of the expert panel, said, “Today, along with technical skills, the ability to adapt oneself, being resilient, connect with people and emerging trends are all being assessed when hiring new talent. Earlier, the importance ratio of technical knowledge and business and communication skills was 90:10, which has now become 50:50.”
Talking about the changing skillset needs, Anupal Banerjee, CHRO, Tata Technologies asserted, “skill needs are changing at an incredible speed and the quality and depth of knowledge is increasing. At a fundamental level, the revenue mix is changing and thereby the type of capability which is required is also changing.”
Touching upon the pandemic’s impact on the industry, Santosh T K, Human Resources Director, Dell Technologies said that the crisis helped them realize the critical significance of “connection” as it became crucial for leaders to have a connection with their teams in the virtual environment.
“For us at Dell – skill is the new currency – that’s where the world is heading. The skills we are looking at are digital skills, social and communication skills. Growth mindset is very critical as you need to constantly learn and be ahead. But you can’t teach these skills overnight” added Santosh.
Resonating the same thought, Lakshmanan M., CHRO, L&T Technology Services said that post-pandemic, they trained their first- and second-line leadership to manage large projects remotely, teaching them about the importance of humility and empathy, while keeping team members committed and motivated.