Competency-based learning helps bridge the skill gap

A robust competency-based L&D programme helped AT&T to reskill 2,80,000 of its employees in two years.

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The industry is evolving very fast, and our education system is dated. This has created a serious skill gap in the existing workforce across levels. For instance, big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics are much in demand not just in tech companies, but across sectors. Yet, these courses are still to be part of the mainline curriculum.

How do companies bridge this skill gap at an ongoing basis, when new, innovative and cutting-edge technologies are emerging with each passing day? Competency based learning is the solution to this.

AT&T, which entered the cloud business in 2016 realised that the workforce lacked the requisite skills to enter the new era of business.

A robust competency-based L&D programme helped AT&T to reskill 2,80,000 of its employees in two years.

Nandani S

“The assessment tools that we use helps us to extract relevant data around the current capabilities of employees and aligning them with the organisational goals of the company”

Competency-based learning focusses on a particular set of competencies, including behavioural skills and technical skills.

In this method, the organisational goals become the main focus. A framework of competencies is then created for the workforce to achieve those goals.

The important step is to analyse the current capabilities of the workforce and compare them with the standard competencies required. This helps to find the gap between the required skills and current skills.

“In our organisation, we ask the managers and the employees to discuss what skills are they lacking. This is our way of finding the skill gap,” reveals Vishal Nagda, head HR, Ozone Group.

Karan Sandhu

“The competency learning model helps overcome the competency gap in the organisations. But we truly need to go back to our drawing boards and use the classroom method and other technologies in the learning space to make a bigger impact”

“We believe that the employees are the best people to identify the areas in which they need training, keeping in mind the kind of work function they are in,” he adds.

While the Ozone Group relies on employee feedback to understand how to cover the skill gap, there are other processes as well.

Generally for assessing the current skills of employees, the traditional method is to use the annual performance review meeting of employees with their managers and taking feedbacks on performance. But at Infosys, skill assessment tools are being used to assess the capabilities of employees and align them with the organisational goals of the company.

Also assessments of managers are also being done on different parameters of technical and behavioural skills.

“The assessment tools that we use helps us to extract relevant data around the current capabilities of employees and aligning them with the organisational goals of the company. It helps to create relevant development programmes for our employees for the future,” shares Nandani S, Group head – Organisation development, Infosys.

Benchmarking is another process through which skill gaps can be identified. In this process, the skills of the top performers are compared to the rest of employees.

Vishal Nagda

“We believe that the employees are the best people to identify the areas in which they need training, keeping in mind the kind of work function they are in”

“In India, the biggest issue is that we fail to understand what competencies are,” shares Karan Sandhu, group chief learning officer, Jindal Steel and Power.

He truly believes that technology should be leveraged to understand the skill gap in the organisation, through various assessment tools available in the market.

“In most businesses, L&D has been at bottom of the priority list. It’s high time, companies realise that L&D is the way to keep the business alive,” asserts Sandhu.

“Competency-based learning surely works in the modern age of negating the skill gap,” shares Nagda.

“The competency learning model helps overcome the competency gap in the organisations. But we truly need to go back to our drawing boards and use the classroom method and other technologies in the learning space to make a bigger impact,” concludes Sandhu.

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