Atul Bhatnagar, Board Member - Sarthak Educational Trust

“Workplace of the future will be boundaryless organization”- Atul Bhatnagar, Board Member- Sarthak Educational Trust

How do you think organizations need to structure their Learning Development programs to make their employee’s future-ready?

There was this term – VUCA- being used in the pre-Covid era also but was not being paid much attention at that time. If we look at the skills required in VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) there is a lot more focus on soft skills. A person may have to undergo 7 job changes of which 5 jobs don’t even exist right now. Now we have to adapt to a culture of work-from-home (WFH). There is an increasing need for good communication skills i.e. you must be concise, precise and decisive.

Then comes Tech Savviness. Many people don’t know about webinars conducted through ZOOM, WebEx MS Teams. There are so many platforms through which communication is happening in the current situation through which you can connect with your team members. One should have the tech knowledge of connecting to people through a virtual world. People will have to invest in building the infrastructure to work within their house like a reliable internet connection with good bandwidth where disruptions are minimal, ‘heavy’ files can be shared, voice and video are clear and presentations can be made to a large audience spread across countries. One is expected of having that amount of tech savviness where one can switch from WiFi at home to Hot Spot through the mobile in case the electricity goes off. Better still would be to have a power backup for the high speed WiFi connection.

Third is Creativity. We’re going to be working from homes and everybody is now on Ground Zero, doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have or how many different degrees you have different companies you have worked. If asked, what the future is going to look like, people will say they know but it’s all speculation. It’s very important that the entire organization employees should be observant and be careful of the changing environment. They should ‘smell the need’ of customers. It’s no longer the CEOs problem to go out of the office and find out business opportunities. Everybody is now in the search for new opportunities and so creativity becomes very important. How you want this world to develop in future? The old way doesn’t work, whatever happened in the past may not be successful in the future. Something new has to come up and that’s when creativity becomes important.

Fourth would be Specialised skills. Let’s take an example – Nowadays people are talking about AI, ML and all the kind of new technologies that are evolving. It is no longer good enough to just talk about them but one has to be able to develop ideas into products and services. You don’t have to be the expert in programming, but you should be able to know how you can derive value from the skills that you have and collaborate with people who have complementary skills. Specialized skills that can lead to the company becoming successful. The need now is that every employee need to derive value from his/her expertise and not just one person alone i.e. CEO.

 

According to you, What will the workplace of the future? What will be the critical talent challenges, especially in the Fintech space?

Workplace of the future will be ‘boundaryless organization’. There will not be much need for permanent employees as was the case in the past. The workplace of the future will have a lot of part-time talent that will be involved.

 

The organisation will have to think about spending less on the real estate, fancy offices, conference rooms etc as there won’t be people under one roof required to conduct a meeting or presentation. ‘Boundaryless’ means some of your employees may be sitting in a different country or a different city and even the team may change as the project evolves. The organisation’s employee strength may change on a weekly basis depending on the projects or research underway.

The talent in the Fintech space will have to be nurtured and groomed to serve changing customer needs. A coder or a tester can work for an organisation, complete his task in the first half then in the second half he can work for some other organization. There is a fear in many organisations of getting hacked all the data of the organisation getting leaked on the web. We need to protect our IPs have a strong privacy settings to protect data pilferage. Cyber Security will now be more important than physical security of buildings where data may be stored in servers etc.

 

You being the Ex-COO NSDC, what do you foresee, how technology is will be contributing to the future skill landscape in India?

With the changing environment in the post-COVID era, it will be important to assess and certify the skills of a person. We will need technology to do skill matching and the need for reskilling/ upskilling based on what the market needs. We are now looking to have more than 70% of practical and 30% of theory.

 

The problem we face in India is the importance of degrees. We all understand the hierarchy in Education. As soon as you say that a person is 10th pass, 12th pass, undergraduate or postgraduate immediately a ladder comes to your mind. But when it comes to skills, you can not make out the level of competence in skills. We have attempted to make a ‘Skill Ladder’ but its importance has not yet been embraced by the people. NSDC was made to get the people certified for their skills. With a significant number of migrant labourers moving back to their rural homesteads, there is an opportunity to utilise their skills to set up Micro-economic zones. Entrepreneurial culture needs to be encouraged – not through the VC world but from the social upliftment point of view. The new Bharat will emerge when there will rural led growth of the country!

 

Atul, currently you’re a Business Advisor to Sarthak, share with us more about how Sarthak is contributing to the specially-abled people and the change it has bought to people’s lives. How can anyone be a part of this institution and a great cause.

Sarthak has 17 Centres across India. We are trying to train People with Disability (PwD) over a period of two-three months on certain job roles which are best suited to them and the industry also needs them. So, in Lemon Tree group of hotels, 18% of the population is PWDs. In Lemon Tree, it is mandatory to know sign language within 3 months of joining so that each emplotee can communicate with the PWDs. We need to embrace and accept People with Disability (PWD) as one of us. As we grow old, we will be ‘disabled’ on various counts. So, let us try and make a world which will suit us in our old age NOW! PwD need to be independent and the infrastructure around them should support them – ramps, getting in and out of public transport, going to a mall etc.

We need to provide the PWD’s with opportunities to show their real worth under the Diversity Inclusion agenda. While there may be a ‘disability’ in some faculty, there may be an enhancement of other faculties. Let’s focus on those and mainstream them to live a life of dignity. That’s what Sarthak is trying to do, to empower them to earn a livelihood through employable skills.

There are multiple ways to be a part of Sarthak. You can organise funds through CSR. You can get in touch with us to be a trainer in Sarthak, learn sign language to communicate with them, create jobs for them, and make them entrepreneurs. In the current CoVid times, PwDs can work from home. Believe me, they are very loyal and skilled, albeit differently!

 

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