The Skillsets of the Future
An increasing percentage of the jobs currently in existence are facing obsolescence thanks to the advent of technological advances such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Any job that involves a relatively lower degree of social interaction and creativity is at the risk of becoming obsolete. At the same time, there are new skills that are becoming increasingly relevant. For example, emotional intelligence, communication skills and business acumen as key leadership skills has never been more important. “Hard” skills such as social media management, design thinking, customer experience management, big data analytics and insighting etc. are also taking greater relevance. We are also looking for more “generalist” managers with greater learning agility.
In my view, the top 3 skills of the future are:
- Tech skills and digital savviness to make sure the organization embraces the future, ahead of competition
- Social and emotional intelligence to survive and thrive in a world of increased collaboration and partnerships
- Learning agility and overall business acumen to be able to adapt to the VUCA environment
The Piramal Group’s Approach to Learning
At Piramal, we place early bets on talent – therefore, skill acquisition is of paramount importance to us. We often take a chance on a young high potential candidate with less experience and equip him to pick up new skills on the job along with the necessary support through structured and peer learning. To make this strategy successful, we ensure that our high potential identification process uses “learning agility” as an important consideration.
The Piramal Learning University offers learning journeys around the skills of the future to make sure we are future-ready. Our young high potentials mentor our seasoned leaders and vice versa through an innovative two-way collaborative mentoring program called “Piramal Konnect” to make sure our leaders are social media savvy and future-ready. Our leadership journeys are also built around developing greater self-awareness, social and emotional intelligence. We spot our high potentials using a structured process that assesses learning agility as a key input.
Our “Secret Formula”
The Piramal Learning University is our umbrella brand for all learning, sharing and knowledge creation within the Piramal Group. In our experience, the “secret formula” for creating a culture of learning across levels is as follows:
- Learning seen as a business-agenda and driven by senior leaders, rather than an HR agenda. We have learning councils of senior leaders at various levels (Group, Business and Location) who set the learning agenda. Every learning intervention also has a clearly identified business sponsor and a set of associated business metrics.
- Embed learning in the learner’s context – our focus on standalone instructor-led training programs has reduced significantly. The focus is on creating longer-term learning journeys which enable the learner to apply his or her learnings at work.
- “Flip” the classroom – We use the classroom less for one-way transfer of learning and more for experience-sharing, reflection and peer interaction. We design learning journeys such that conceptual frameworks and knowledge transfer are learner-driven, outside of the classroom.
- Build manager capability to have development dialogues – We have a Leadership Academy within the Piramal Learning University that looks at leadership development and manager capability building across levels.
- Place early bets on people – We spot our high potentials using a structured process that assesses learning agility as a key input. We have flagship development journeys for these high potentials called ASCEND, SUMMIT and IGNITE for various levels, which are built around developing greater self-awareness, social and emotional intelligence. By giving our high potentials stretch roles and early responsibility, we create a culture of self-driven learning. Our young high potentials mentor our seasoned leaders and vice versa through an innovative two-way collaborative mentoring program called “Piramal Konnect” to make sure our leaders are social media savvy and future-ready.
The Role of the Learning Function at Piramal
In this new era of digitization, the role of the learning function is no longer to create content – we have high quality content available often for free. The role of the function is to curate the right content, “just in time”, “just enough” and “just for each individual learner”. The ability to create “micro” learning paths that can be consumed on the go, and the ability to integrate learning into everyday work are other important skills. Learning can no longer be outside of work – it has to instead be embedded into work.
We use blended learning in all of our learning interventions and have now migrated away from standalone traditional training programs. Peer learning and reflection is a significant chunk of our learning journeys. In some of our learning interventions, we use gamification and peer / group learning. Experiential learning environments are helped us immensely in leadership development. We have a MOOC calendar which is made available to our employees through the Piramal Learning University – we are also in the midst of rolling out a new Lifelong Learning Policy that encourages our employees to leverage MOOCs.
Social and mobile learning is definitely the way to go. We are exploring ways of incorporating social learning in our interventions – the Oracle Social Network (OSN) is one such technology we are in the midst of adopting. In some of our businesses which have a distributed field force, eg. consumer products, retail housing finance etc., bitesize learning delivered through mobile technologies is absolutely the way to go.
About Niranjana Harikumar
Niranjana Harikumar has over 12 years of experience and has worked with organizations like Oracle Financial Services Software Ltd, Bangalore/London, Procter & Gamble,Singapore, Aditya Birla Group, Various Corporates & Piramal Group. Niranjana holds a PGDPM&IR, Personnel Management and Industrial Relations from XLRI Jamshedpur.