World over, there is constant debate on availability of skilled people and how to find them. Right from finding a driver, a cook, plumber, electrician to a salesperson, a teacher, a doctor, an accountant, a business analyst, a researcher, we face challenges. Often we see, either people are not available or the person that we hire seems to be terribly below our expectations. Why does it happen and what can be done?
As the developed economies are now producing much lesser children than what they did in the baby-boomer days, the gap between the demand of people and the availability of workers has been on the rise. As countries lower their retirement ages, reduce working hours in a week, this problem accentuates further. Secondly, as machines have been replacing task-based predictable work and many new products and technologies have flooded the market, the demand patterns have changed. For example, the electronics in a car is now significantly huge compared to what they were 2 decades ago; self-service systems in a bank, public utility companies etc have been empowering customers to consume services in a different way from what they did a decade ago; as the world is getting flatter, products and services are fast moving across the boundaries of countries; some of the basic needs of people such as security is no more restricted to physical security, it’s now a paradigm shift there : we talk about information security, protecting intellectual property and so on. All these changes lead to increased demand for certain kind of skills while the some of the traditional skills are not relevant now. So, the information and skills gathered in the schools is getting obsolete in many ways. People need to be either up-skilled or pushed to acquire new skills altogether. We see that the pass-outs of many technical schools in our country do not have basic skills to comprehend emails, business models and hence, are far from determining the business problem to be solved. Our talent does not get the necessary training to increase their intellectual ability, learnability and desire to excel. This is the single-most important gap that we have.
What can be done? President Obama gave a clarion call to the Americans a few years ago to learn science subjects and mathematics. Similarly, our country has to follow a multi-pronged approach to raise the bar in whatever we do in education and public life. We have to get our children know that life is not a bed of roses, rather it brings up many things unexpected because we live in very dynamic and volatile world. It doesn’t matter if the child is learning mathematics or cooking or plumbing. We need to impress upon them the value of flexibility to learn, agility to respond to the changing requirements of our times and improve continuously. Then only, the talent requirement in all walks of life : business, government and social institutions will be met in a predictable manner in the future!
Necessity is the mother of all inventions. Right now, we have a big challenge at hand to find the right people for a job. For example, more than 500,000 engineers pass out each year out of which less than 100,000 are ready for a technical job. So, here is a necessity to make their intelligence, attitude and aspiration match with what is needed in the real world. While there are several initiatives in the Govt now to impart skills to our youth, it’s not addressing something at the core of the issue.
The necessity of finding the right hire will give rise to many inventions, for sure! These inventions will help us raise the bar for the children in our homes and neighbours’ homes so that they develop their curiosity, adaptability and quest for excellence. Until then, let’s do whatever we can … charity begins at home. So, let’s start at our own homes!