Retaining the Skill Edge in 2023

Retaining the Skill Edge in 2023- Hemalakshmi Raju
Learning democratization that started a decade ago with the launch of various digital learning portals has made learning anytime, anywhere possible and empowers individuals to own their learning.

Continuous learning and skilling are key success imperatives for people across industries, geographies and age groups. Due to disruptions in the external world, the skills landscape keeps evolving at a rapid pace. It is important that one keeps pace with the changing skill demands to stay relevant.

Skilling needs to follow a 360-degree approach. To elaborate, one should focus on skills needed for the present and future, skills in the technical, behavioural and new technology domains, and leverage different methodologies.

Learning democratization that started a decade ago with the launch of various digital learning portals has made learning anytime, anywhere possible and empowers individuals to own their learning. The last few years have also seen the launch of coaching and mentoring portals.

While skilling is an area of interest for many, this area is also beset with the problem of plenty. “What are the skills that are relevant for me and how do I go about learning them”, is a question for which many would seek answers.

The What and the How

Analytics has made predictions possible, and this is the time of the year when skill predictions for the upcoming year will soon be out. The two big skill categories listed below will continue to stay relevant –

  • Skills pertaining to new/emerging technology
  • Soft skills or power skills

The pandemic accelerated the need to own and master these skills. The exact skills within each keep changing and especially in an area like new technology, a plethora of new skills keep getting added.

While multiple authorities publish these skills post a lot of research, one needs to keep the following in mind –

  • This is a generic set selected for applicability across a wide cross-section of people. One needs to choose what is relevant for them based upon their personal and work context, as well as their personal and career aspirations
  • They tend to exclude skills pertaining to specific domains; one needs to take efforts to understand what are those skills likely to be for their own area/domain

This article sharply focuses on how should one go about skilling effectively. It is the process of skilling and can be applied to all types of skills. It highlights three important ways in which one can approach skilling.

Focus on Deep Skilling

Microlearning has become the norm and people often do not have the patience for deep learning. Readers would recollect the concept of “Modern Learner” socialized by Bersin by Deloitte which highlighted their short attention spans and pull towards micro and mobile learning.

Microlearning often does not lead to deep skilling and we end up as jacks of many trades and masters of none. It is time that organizations, and more so individuals, focus on deep skilling. Platforms like Coursera offer deep skilling journeys.

At Reliance we have a well-laid-out strategy for micro-learning and deep skilling. We leverage blended learning journeys for deep skilling.

Both organizations and individuals should have sharp clarity on what are the areas for deep skilling and how will they go about it.

Build Digital Depth

In 2020 Digital Savviness was the flavour. And that was the need of the hour then.

We are well past that phase, and we need to focus on building depth in relevant areas. There is an explosion of new technologies with related skills.  So while one needs to continue building awareness of the new areas, building depth in a select few is what will give one the tech edge.

Would like to refer to the “T Model” of skilling, where the horizontal line is about building breadth across multiple areas and the vertical line pertains to depth in select areas.

One needs to carefully choose the areas for depth building, lest it will become an academic effort. Choosing skills that will enhance one’s current and future role is important. One needs to choose an area that would have application potential in one’s own area. For eg. Data based Decision Making is an important leadership skill in today’s context.

At Reliance we periodically do large-scale awareness campaigns around new digital and data skills. These are curated as micro-learning nuggets. And deep skilling is offered for target groups where application is a requirement. These are blended journeys with elements like action learning projects.

Holistic Approach to Skilling

All three categories of skills, technical, behavioural and new technology come together to build a competent professional.  Hence it is important that one focuses on building expertise across all of them. Often we find people excelling at one or two and lagging behind on the other.

To conclude would like to highlight the tree model of capability building –

  • Roots – Deep behavioural capabilities like learning agility and adaptability that act as the foundation for every other skill to flourish
  • Branches – Deep skills pertaining to all three areas. While they are not as foundational as roots, they are relatively long-lasting
  • Leaves – This pertains to awareness around a wide variety of topics. Relatively short-lived and one needs to keep refreshing

Just like a tree could be healthy and bear fruits only if all three are there, the same applies to capability building as well. 


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