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84% HR Leaders Say Colleges, Universities Must Change The Way They Groom Students: Survey


BML Munjal University (BMU) released a report titled Future Of Work & Human Challenges: Technology & Beyond (FOW). The report explores how the future of work is going to be shaped by technology and reveals findings from a survey with HR leaders on business sentiment, the existing skills gap especially with soft skills and the role of higher education institutions to prepare a future, more employable workforce.

An overwhelming 84% of respondents say that higher education institutions must change the way they groom students to make them ‘more’ employable by imparting soft skills training. 43% emphasize on a focus on soft skills such as communication, creativity, resilience, empathy, and integrity, 21% say hands-on education to prepare students for the ‘real world’ and 18% say that there must be a stress on helping develop a learners mind set and curiosity as opposed to knowledge acquisitions. Students would do well to develop a tolerance for uncertainty and a penchant for initiative, advising 30% of HR Leaders to be able to maneuver the new emerging world of work.

Despite the global outlook, HR Leaders are confident about the prospects of business growth of their organization over the next 1 to 3 years. 89% say their organizations should experience strong growth but market instability (36%), inflation (21%), and future COVID-19 variants (23%) are the most likely to play truant to this. Only 13% cite talent or skills shortage to be a challenge to growth.

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49% of the respondents say IT / mobile / data analytics / R&D are the business areas that need to address potential skill gaps the most, followed by executive management and sales & marketing at around 12% each.

43% of HR leaders state that reskilling employees is therefore their top most priority followed by hiring talent at 26.6%. Nearly 18% say that helping employees navigate workplace challenges is a conscious strategy to help retain talent especially in a post COVID-19 workplace that is defined by change and uncertainty.

Freshers (38%) form the largest cohort of talent that HR Leaders are looking to recruit to address the skill gap in their organizations followed by those in middle and senior management at 30% each.

A new work order is giving way to the importance of soft-skills. 38% say that the importance of soft skills cannot be overemphasized as it allows talent to adapt quickly to a changing economy and needs. 31% state that a lack of soft skills among candidates can limit the company’s productivity.

A new work order is also evident in how organizations are choosing to reward and motivate employees. HR Leaders say that both effort and achievement are celebrated equally to motivate employees and not just the latter. Further, 25% also say that failures are celebrated which furthers the importance of putting in the optimum effort.

Teamwork 57%, followed by creativity 54%, and communication 50%, emerge as the top three soft skills that are most in demand.

In an interesting finding on the issue of moonlighting, a majority of HR respondents are okay with the trend. While 43% were not in favor and called it cheating, 49% say they would be okay with it as long as the employee declares it.

Dr. Kiran Karnik,  Chairman, IIIT Delhi & Former President, NASSCOM said, “There could be various alternative scenarios of the future, as related to technology and jobs. One could well argue that the future is not about jobs, but about livelihoods; that the current concerns about “quality” jobs which assure social security benefits is ill-founded. Instead, we need to look at livelihoods, with part-time, fixed-period, and gig work being predominant – supported, of course, by a universal system of retirement, pension, and social security guarantees. Also, there is no cause to look at Artificial Intelligence (AI) or robots as threats: the future will not be a man or machine dichotomy, but a man plus machine model.”

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