The Evolving Role of CSR in Upskilling the Workforce

0
100

Abhishek Humbad

Technology platforms in the ‘doing good’ space are redefining the power of employee volunteering in upskilling the workforce.

As per recent estimations from the World Economic Forum, 1.4 million people will lose their jobs by 2026 due to technological change. More than 70 per cent of these job losses will happen because the job type will cease to exist. Rural regions are also expected to be adversely affected.

The pandemic has also forced us to take a hard reset at how we work. There’s more reliance than ever on technology to make work happen. Plug to this the problem of skill gap concerning fresh graduates. Taking India as a case in point: a report from Tagged reveals the pitiably low per cent of India’s formally-trained workforce – which stands at merely 2.3 per cent.

With technology and automation taking over jobs previously done by humans, we are faced with the daunting task of levelling the playing field. The conversations are no longer just limited to addressing problems for ensuring access to education for all. It is that, and so much more.

COVID-19 – How Has It Impacted the Workforce?

Until a while ago, ‘digital transformation’ was a business jargon, a corporate term signalling a change that is intangible, ongoing in the background. But COVID-19 has pulled this term to the forefront. We now watch this transformation right in front of us, happening through us. One of the biggest changes will be the permanent shift to a distributed workforce that operates remotely. Work from Home (WFH) is the new normal across almost all sectors of the economy. The world is gradually picking itself up to its feet, prepping for a future rife with virtual opportunities.

Considering this demand, the world is undoubtedly going to witness the need for a strong workforce with the right skillset. We need to continuously find ways to keep the workforce skilled to meet the demands of the job market while also seizing global opportunities by supplying talent to international job markets.

Working virtually demands workforce capabilities that are very different. Technology will be the foundation of almost all innovation and new ideas aimed at productivity. In this context, reskilling the employees accordingly will be a big challenge.

COVID-19 and its implications have put forth an increasing demand for highly-skilled labour in this new decade. Considering this demand, the world is undoubtedly going to witness the need for a strong workforce with the right skillset. We need to continuously find ways to keep the workforce skilled to meet the demands of the job market while also seizing global opportunities by supplying talent to international job markets.

How do we improve the readiness of businesses in using online platforms and move towards a remote economy? What will the future workforce look like? What will be the new skill requirements? How do we upskill our young graduates? How do we train and rewire a considerably older workforce who now suddenly have to reimagine the way they work? Problems are a dime a dozen. But we need to start somewhere.

The need of the hour is a CSR framework that can play a vital role in supporting the creation of the new workforce. It is both a moral and an economic imperative, and the future of the workforce depends upon it.

Calling Upon Corporates

Starting from schools to fresh graduates to people who have already been working for years – learning never stops, and consistently upskilling is the only way forward.

While thinking of a solution that can equip us to face this disruption, we might not think of corporates as a solution. But interestingly, the power to create immediate change and impact lies with corporations.

Fruitful partnerships between corporates and NGOs is the key. As per the changing market demands, the need of the hour is a CSR framework that can play a vital role in supporting the creation of the new workforce. It is both a moral and an economic imperative, and the future of the workforce depends upon it.

Looking back, education and skilling are some of the key areas that received a high volume of CSR funds in the previous years. CSR has actively enabled volunteering programmes that significantly helped connect a vast majority of the working population to nonprofits that work on righting this gap in education. The power of the corporates and nonprofits in bridging this gap through technology is of utmost interest and importance.

In the last few years, we have increasingly seen the importance of integrating technology into skilling either as an area of learning or a method of learning. More operations will continue to become digital and it is important to make sure we are 21st-century skills-ready.

Here are a few ideas on how corporates can amplify the impact of their CSR programmes in providing education:

  • Identify the skills your business can bring to the table: Every single employee at an organisation is a resource. Their extensive experience working in the business landscape makes them valuable mentors who have a lot of knowledge to share. Before approaching any CSR strategy, organisations must do some soul-searching to define the model of giving. Whom will our volunteers be? What are the most important skills we should be looking at imparting now?

  • Engage in training that is most engaging to employees and beneficiaries: There are many different ways corporate volunteers can upskill beneficiaries. A little bit of creativity is all it takes to find activities that are most engaging for both parties. Few examples: one-on-one mentoring for college students and fresh graduates, setting up free tutorials/online courses, recording inspiring stories, etc.
  • Start immediately and iterate: You do not need to be a company with decades of experience under your belt to create impact. Small-scale companies and start-ups have a major role to play in helping the 21st century be skills-ready. The key is to start early and learn the best way you can contribute your time and effort.

  • Find the right nonprofit partners to work with: Perhaps the most important part that helps in deciding the reach of an organisation’s CSR efforts is the list of non-profits it chooses to work with. NGOs that have been working towards ensuring equal access to education come with a wealth of expertise in conducting beneficial programmes. Partnering with the right non-profit partners will ensure that the value that an organisation is trying to give is properly distributed and received.

Bringing It All Together

An agile workforce with the right technical skills and digital know-how is imminent in helping companies navigate the new world order. In the last few years, we have increasingly seen the importance of integrating technology into skilling either as an area of learning or a method of learning. More operations will continue to become digital and it is important to make sure we are 21st-century skills-ready. This is where CSR technology comes into play.

Technology solutions have introduced better and faster ways to solve the problem of the skill gap. With the crumbling GDP and predictions on the percentage of employable graduates, it is imminent that corporates actively look at these solutions to support the country’s youth. Technology-enabled efforts from corporates present a win-win situation that allows their volunteers to lead activities that build the core competencies of the beneficiaries, while also engaging and connecting them from their homes.

Abhishek Humbad is the Founder and CEO of Goodera. a CSR, volunteering and sustainability platform used globally by corporations, foundations, governments, non-profits and employees to fulfil CSR, sustainability, and volunteering goals. Goodera believes that the need of the hour is to facilitate corporates and nonprofits to work together to create a phenomenal impact in reskilling the workforce. Through a continuous cycle of innovation, collaboration, and transformation, Goodera strives to assuage the fears around the increasing cases of unemployment. The technology platform has been able to bring the Company’s ethos to individual volunteers and programme beneficiaries who connect over everything from CV workshops to skills training.