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Why is there a need for reskilling of employees

Posted on Monday, July 30, 2018

Vijay Kumar, former SVP, Tech Mahindra, chairman, skills, development (IOT), IET, talks about the need to train youth in new age skills to remain relevant

Scenario: The organisation has just won a large multi-million dollar project, which has to be delivered with a strict timeline. The Delivery Head calls a meeting with the Competency Monitoring and Development (CMD) team and works with them to form the initial 30-man team. The programme manager quickly assesses the skill gaps. There is a new technology that is being used in this project, and all the team members have to be trained on that. The CMD team prepares a two-week crash programme of reskilling, using a mix of approaches – from the introductory three day overview programme in the classroom, to advanced skills on the internet, to sessions of the external experts with the key designers and team leads. They do an assessment of the proficiency of each of the team members after this period. They identify four people, who require additional training, arrange that and then do a re-assessment. Only after they are satisfied with the skill level, they release their suitability certificate for the start of the project.

This example best represents how a good reskilling initiative should be undertaken by any organisation. There are three new aspects of reskilling identified – a) the CMD department as the new name of the erstwhile training department, b) the identification of the training needs, and c) the way the reskilling should be conducted.

Competency Monitoring, Development Team

Training is not a stand-alone activity. It is closely linked to building up the skill level of an individual to the required level for a role that an individual is carrying out in an organisation. Each role has to have a clearly defined level of competency/proficiency identified. For a medium to large IT organization, over 800 types of competencies have been identified, with a mix of three levels of proficiencies for a role and a competency. Regular assessment of the proficiency level that an individual has reached is imperative to ensure that he is equipped with the right level for the tasks at hand. Then, after identifying the gaps in the skill level, improving the skill level to the target level, and tracking the improvement to closure is the other task of the CMD team.

Identification of reskilling needs

In the technology-based industries particularly, the normal paradigm is that 70% of the skills currently being used, get overtaken by new technologies within the next three years.

While there are different drivers for reskilling, technical (new technologies, like IOT, AI, Blockchain, new projects, new roles), behavioural (better communication, customer interaction) or managerial (career progression), the important task for the CMD team is to periodically assess the competency level of the employees against the levels required for the role he is playing in a project and identify the gaps, as reskilling needs.

Then, besides the organisational requirement, there can be an individual’s aspirational requirements that should be taken care of.

A good practice that has been adopted by some organisations has been to identify Reskilling Relationship Managers from the CMD team for each Business Unit, who are responsible for formally identifying the Reskilling Needs of the employees of that unit.

Imparting training required for reskilling

The new approach to conduct the training is the emphasis on ensuring that a defined level of proficiency is reached before the individual’s training is declared as complete.

A prerequisite for this is therefore to identify for each role, the required proficiency level for each competency used. This is a major one-time exercise. For the assessment, a detailed quantitative assessment methodology should be used to ensure thoroughness and fairness. For senior roles, qualitative assessments can also be used.

To ensure that the competency development is taken to closure, some good practices followed include the usage of online programs to facilitate “anytime/anywhere “learning , and , to get the reluctant practicing experts to act as  mentors, through innovative incentive schemes.

Competency indexes are a good way to monitoring the levels of proficiency/competency wise available in the teams against the levels required in a project.


Finally, the benefits that will accrue to both the organisation as well as the individual far outweigh the costs. As the above example shows, ensuring that properly skilled teams are at work makes the organisational successes that much more likely. There are so many challenges that any organisation faces, which are beyond their control, but this one, ensuring the right skilling of their employees is very much under their control.



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