COVID-19 has made re-skilling more imperative: Saurabh Govil, Wipro

NEW DELHI: Covid 19 has accelerated adoption of digital technologies across industries. This in turn has resulted in a surge in re-skilling. At Wipro, on an average around 40,000 employees are acquiring new skills every quarter. Skills that employees are getting trained on include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Big Data, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity and so on. In a recent e-mail interaction Saurabh Govil, president & Chief Human Resources Officer, Wipro discusses the current re-skilling wave. Edited excerpts:

How relevant is re-skilling now?

Businesses are increasingly moving in a digital way, and there is a need for our employees to reskill in the Digital and emerging technologies. Reskilling the workforce to be ready for the future and adapt to rapidly changing conditions continues in the post-pandemic era. It has become imperative for employees to be equipped with the skills that are critical to business.

Can everybody be reskilled?

Digital business has changed the nature of demand for IT services. The pace and scale of disruption in the digital space, makes it imperative to futureproof our workforce against emerging digital needs. Customer expectation is tending towards building a workforce with deeper skills in multiple areas. We are seeing an upsurge of customer demands in emerging skill areas.

However, we are in a bi-polar market where legacy and emerging technologies co-exist. There is a surge of workforce getting skilled in digital technologies and as a result there is scarcity of workforce with legacy skills. Enterprises need to strike the right balance to meet demands in both worlds. We see reluctance from fresh talent to get skilled in legacy technologies.

How do you identify candidates for re-skilling?

We reskill employees in three broad categories:

· Employees engaged in customer projects: Proactively reskilled though our immersive programs not impacting their project work. Employees spend 10 to 12 hours a week spanning across 2 to 3 months.

· Employees In between projects: Focused effort to reskill in a high demand skill where an employee can reskill and get ready to be deployed in a new project

· New Campus Recruits: Those joining from campuses are groomed and oriented towards specific business demand skills to ensure faster deployment to projects.

Re-skilling has been around for many years. How has it helped in the past?

Our approach to developing talent is to continuously reskill to make the workforce ready and relevant for current and future needs of our customers. We focus on building technology skills coupled with domain awareness. Through reskilling we have been able to proactively build a skill pool for business demands. This has resulted in increased internal deployment and reduction in external hiring.

How significant is re-skilling in the post Covid 19 era?

Covid-19 pandemic has made re-skilling more imperative and has created immediate online and virtual training needs. It is abundantly clear that in the future, businesses and ways of working will adapt to a ‘new normal business-as-usual’ model. It has become important for employees to be equipped with the skills that are critical to business. Reskilling the workforce to be ready for the future and adapt to rapidly changing conditions continues in the post-pandemic era.

What are some of the new trends in re-skilling?

Current trends due to Covid-19 have thrown challenges and also created opportunities to accelerate learning. These include

· Remote learning

· Focus on Hands-on exposure

· Continual engagement of workforce

· New reality – gig economy, crowdsourcing

· Social and collaborative learning

· Self-driven learning

· New delivery / engagement models

Wipro offers re-skilling internally or does it work with external partners who implement the courses.

We have Talent Transformation and Learning & Development teams with full time faculty. Majority of the programs are developed in-house and often customized to meet specific requirements of customers. Wipro has invested in a full-fledged Learning Management System to ensure employees are connected and have access to learning content and virtual labs anytime, anywhere. We also leverage a pool of external partners and programs to reskill workforce in specific skills.

Additionally, we have partnered with Nasscom for the FutureSkills platform, a new age learning platform for digital technologies. This platform is available to all employees. We have also enabled this platform to over 10,000 students across multiple engineering colleges in India.

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