“Jack of all trades, master of none” is a proverb most of us use while pointing out at someone good for nothing. But today it pays to be a Jack of all trades. This is an age where a professional needs to have multi-dimensional skill sets to survive. That said, the importance of specialization hasn’t got blurred. However, due to rapid developments in the field of IT, Finance and Analytics, professionals have to keep themselves updated with newer skills. A study by NSDC for employment prospects in 20 high growth sectors indicate that they would require more than 300 million trained people by 2022.
The new-age mantras of survival are (1) Re-skilling (2) Upskilling (3) Cross-training.
Let us take a close look at how each of these works:
Technology disruption is a necessary evil in today’s time. Not only in hard-core IT jobs, but also in fields like Finance, Marketing, Human Resource and Education, one has to be extremely tech-savvy. Re-skilling is thus, the need of the hour. This is nothing but adapting your existing skills to avoid redundancy. For example, associates working on voice-process in a BPO will become redundant on arrival of the IVR system. So in this case, the associates have to be trained on the IVR. Similarly, in today’s time, Artificial Intelligence has taken over major jobs. This has led to layoffs of many professionals in IT as well as other fields. Skills related to the SMAC (Social, Mobility, Analytics and Cloud) ecosystem is becoming mandatory and professionals need to keep themselves abreast of changing technology.
Upskilling refers to enhancing your existing skills to progress further in your career and take up more challenging roles. Let us look at a financial analyst who is adept in financial modelling but is restricted only to DCF analysis. If the analyst signs up for a training for advanced financial modelling which entails various types of modelling such as project finance, credit analysis model, LBO model or an M&A model, it is a case of upskilling. In outsourcing or shared services industry, many a times, associates who had joined in the nascent stage of the industry have reached managerial levels with their skills and experience. However, they may not have the necessary certifications or qualifications required in the current time. If such a manger opts for a professional certification such as a CFA, ACCA or CIMA, it can be called a case of up skilling.
Cross-training employees is something that benefits both managers and employees. For example, a Content Writer can also be trained on various aspects like Digital Marketing, Social media management or technical aspects like HTML, graphic designing etc. This will not only make the Content writer as an all-round digital media expert, but also give flexibility to the employer about utilizing his/her skill sets as and when required. Another example of cross-training can be cited in an Equity Research firm. An analyst who specializes in Technology sector can also be trained to analyse stocks of another sectors such as Capital Goods or Oil & Gas. He already has the basics in place, so gaining expertise in other sectors will not be much difficult for him.
Whether or not cross-training will be feasible will depend a lot on the company culture as well as the initiative of the employee. As an employee, one has to be forthcoming and be ready to explore newer roles. Similarly, a company must also realize that cross-skilling is the only way to achieve optimal utilization of resources in the current scenario.
All said and done, venturing out to acquire new skills or enhancing your skills is not as easy as it seems. A right mind set will help you to take the most appropriate decision.
So here is how you can condition your mind and chalk out a path for career survival and growth:
1- Come out of your comfort zone
It is but natural to feel settled in your existing profile and be at ease. For example: You have been at the same organisation for years, handling the same responsibilities and you own your profile like no-one can ever do. It all seems all hunky-dory! But wait a minute. What if there is a technology disruption and the work can be automated? You may become redundant then. So in order to avoid a situation like this, you need to come out of your comfort zone and update your skills. Learning new things should never stop with age, in fact you must always fire your inner quest for knowledge.
2- Identify your interest and strength
Each one of us has a unique set of strength and areas of interest. It takes a good amount of introspection to figure out what they are. Do not follow herd mentality because that is a sure shot recipe for disaster. Eg: If you are into Equity Research and opt for a course in Business Analytics only because it is a trend, you are in for trouble. If you are not too interested in statistics and technical aspects, a course in Business Analytics is not meant for you. It may make sense for you to opt for a certification in advanced Financial Modelling or a PGD in Investment Banking because that is in line with your existing skill set. However, if getting into a technology oriented career is your calling, a course in Business Analytics may be just perfect for you.
3- Research well on the training providers
Today everybody seems to be aware about the changing trends in technology. Hence there is a sudden proliferation of training providers offering courses. However, if you want make progress in the right direction, take time to check the credibility of the institute and quality of education they impart. Research thoroughly on the market acceptability of the certifications they are offering along with the affiliations to the industry bodies that they claim.
So, make hay while the sun shines
Watch out for the trends, do some soul searching to identify your areas of interest, work on your strength and finally add an element of flexibility in your profile. Only then can you survive and grow in this age of technology disruption and cut-throat competition.