The challenges of reskilling and upskilling the workforce, such as the cost of training, the time it takes to train workers, and the difficulty of finding the right training programs.
This is one of the best times to be in if you love technology or use technology for a living. What am I talking about? Of course, it is AI, or the name that started it all – ChatGPT. The buzz is all around understanding the technology, its usage, and enhancing the current applications to use it.
In other words, we are all getting ourselves skilled in AI. The pace of change and development is so high, that what we learn today needs an enhancement in a week. We have been talking about transformation brought up by Cloud and Digital technologies for the last few years, but with AI, it is at a totally different level. While this has all the makings of a bubble, there is no precedent to any application or technology gaining 100 M users in 2 months.
Why is everyone clamouring to get themselves skilled in AI? Because organisations and individuals feel that they will get left behind if they don’t have these skills. From an organisational perspective, being left behind will result in a loss of revenues and market leadership. From an individual’s perspective, it will mean a loss of career opportunities. Both are primarily linked to money.
So, since earning money or more of it is every organisation or professional’s goal, skilling becomes an important part of enabling it.
Why? Technology is either changing quickly (like almost every 6 months – Salesforce releases updates on its platform every 3 months, AWS, Azure and GCP announce new services almost every 3 months) or we keep getting new requirements from customers.
These are the driving factors.
But there are challenges.
If you are already working in a full-time role, getting additional time out to learn something new becomes a strain. Most software engineers I know always complain about being stretched for time, adding another thing on their plate, and are never seen with a friendly eye. Unless, of course, there are serious monetary benefits tied to it.
Training programs aim to touch the surface, like the tip of an ice berg or teach in Standard conditions. If you have been part of training, you will know that everything always works in the Standard test conditions or within the four walls of training. But, when you come back to your regular work, nothing seems to. You must have all heard “Works on my machine”, well this is one more variant of it.
Which makes it difficult to measure the ROI or Return on Investment in Training programs. It can’t be based on the feedback at the end of a training, because those usually tend to be good. If your organization gives you access to an online learning library (a MOOC) platform, then, the number of hours of video watched cannot be a good measure.
And for students, it’s a whole different hill to climb. Academics and Industry seem so different. Academics run with a curriculum that is fixed in stone. In industry, the speciality is Agile. Industry wants to add the new technology yesterday, and with academia – you need to wait for 3 or 4 years.
How can these be solved? Here are a few that I have seen work well.
Firstly, while 5-day training programs are great, for training to be relevant, if you can make these tailored to your project requirements, you get the best bang for the buck. Making it accessible to your team members when they want it rather than when it’s available is important. The training should be Hands-On, if it’s not Hands-On, it is entertainment. Keep training or upskilling options always available on demand.
Skilling / Reskilling / Training should always start with a business goal. The goal is not to make an employee a Data Science Architect, it is to ensure that the team is able to deliver a feature or build a product that solves a customer pain point. The employee becoming an architect is a welcome side effect of the training. Measure the ROI w.r.t whether the employee was able to deliver on the responsibility assigned in the project.
For students, just an onboarding program at the start of their career is not the answer to introducing them to the industry. Get the students to work as interns almost immediately as they start their professional education. It’s always better to start swimming a metre at a time, rather than being shown the 50-metre pool on day one of your job.
And finally, how much should the training cost? Just access to pre-recorded may be available at a few dollars per person per month, access to a trainer will be several hundred dollars a day for an entire batch of students, and experiential and immersive training, which is a longer duration, accessible and with a mentor will set you back a few hundred dollars per employee. Choose wisely, because if the goal is to enable a person to fulfil their responsibilities, equipping them in the best way increases the organisation’s chances of success.
About the author: Giridhar LV is a distinguished visionary, seasoned entrepreneur, and technology luminary with a rich tapestry of years of diverse industry expertise. His illustrious career has been anchored by a remarkable trajectory, leading him from his formative engineering days to his strategic stewardship in moulding the ever-evolving landscape of cloud technology. As the esteemed Founder and CEO of Nuvepro Technologies, a pioneering technology company specialising in cutting-edge cloud solutions, Giridhar is a driving force behind innovation in cloud technologies.