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Competency Standards- The Way Forward

Ever wondered why there is lack of an equilibrium between demand and supply of labour. To make things simple, let us consider a scenario where the supply becomes more than demand and that is when we introduce a new variable to the equation called unemployment. What would happen if demand becomes more than the supply? Well productivity would suffer and you’d have overworked employees. The latter is a perfect use case for emerging tech in the 21st century which again introduces another element called unemployability to the equation. It could be defined as the lack of skills required to do a job effectively. Having said that what we fail to perceive is that it’s difficult for companies and the education system to build a formidable system through which demand and supply could be mapped perfectly. But if that be the problem statement, then there has to be a solution around that. That brings us to the topic of discussion around competency standards.

Competency standards might evoke our imagination to be a complex set of Keynesian mechanisms that could redefine the employment charter of the country but in retrospect, they are seemingly simple to comprehend. But before we delve deep into it, let us understand a bit about how the technology industry takes care of the recruitment process. To juxtapose a simple use case- a hiring manager feels that the work has gone beyond the 40 hour work schedule of his team and plans to hire a few resources to optimize labour to avert productivity losses. The normal process involves creating a requisition form with a ‘job description’ which is subsequently sent to the HR. The job description isn’t resplendent of the actual necessity in most of the cases. The HR engages third party recruiter, online recruitment tools and in some cases even executive search firms to create a talent pool of candidates deemed suitable for the job. Instead the unclear job description ensures that people devoid of the necessary skills, end up applying for the job thereby making the job of the recruiter and the HR much harder. A lot of valuable man-hours is lost in the process that again adds to the OPEX and has a direct correlation to the bottom-line. Add to that the simple fact that a wrong hire can cost the company a lot in terms of productivity. No matter how much optimization a company does to the aforementioned process, it does not bear any fruitful results.

On the supply side the problem is far graver. Universities and colleges tend to teach students(in our case we shall talk about engineering students) based on a curricula which gets obsolete every year or so since rate of change of technology is far more than the rate of adoption. That means that it takes a while for the education system to acclimatize itself to the technology evolutionary curve. Having said that students have to slog hard to keep themselves abreast of what is happening in the technology ecosystem through mainstream media, social media, search, research papers, case studies and consumer reports. Most of the said sources of information fail to explain things comprehensively and end up creating a fad which might be a far cry from reality. Students sold out on the fad prepare themselves in a bid to grab a job without understanding the nuances of a specific technology or its associated use cases. During black swan events when companies cut down on the spending to optimize costs for the rainy days, most undergrads find themselves struggling to get a job because what the market demands is quite different from what they can offer in terms of skills and competencies. If only there was a way out.

In retrospect, both demand and supply of labour in big tech or emerging tech grapple with a problem that inhibits the establishment of an equilibrium. But then the good news is that it has a solution. This is where I bring Competency Standards to the picture. What are competency standards? To break them down in layman language, the Government of India has defined skills that are required to do every job effectively. These skills are termed NOS(National Occupational Standards) and are carefully crafted and curated by a host of industry leaders, SME(subject matter experts) and eventually approved by the Government and that is when they become standards. Each of these NOSs combine to form a QP(Qualification Pack) or simply a job title or a designation. Now since the NOSs or skills are industry driven and Government approved, they could help an HR manager or a hiring manager to put forth an effective job description since now they have an accurate picture of what a job or a QP requires at an atomic level. It brings more clarity to the job description as it etches out the specific skills that are required to do the job effectively.

On the supply front, the competency framework defined by the Government is a boon in disguise as it provides a directional sense to the academia when it comes to steering their boat. Once the skill part is clear and there is clearly a consensus on the same by the industry practitioners, educators can now focus on the bigger picture of developing creative pedagogical approaches and methodologies to impart the said skills to the student diaspora. This is exactly the point where NASSCOM Future Skills Prime can solve a lot of confusion. NASSCOM FSP is a marketplace for state of the art content that is tightly aligned to the NOSs and tends to help a student develop the technology/practical skills which if combined with the learner’s cognitive skills could help him deliver outcomes. Technically speaking a learner learning an emerging technology is expected to use the knowledge and skills that he is taught to either solve a problem by building a produce or a service.
In a nutshell our competency framework has solved the demand and supply problem by devising benchmarks that both industry and academia can bank on. This standardization would be extremely effective when it comes to upskilling and reskilling of Indian student diaspora at an unimaginable scale. The idea that NASSCOM Futureskills has is fairly simple. We plan to upskill or reskills some 400,000 learner over the next 3 years or so.

Any NASSCOM certified learner would be as good a pick as any candidate hailing from an Ivy League since the courses we offer on our platform test the candidates on various data points. A candidate needs to be well versed with the said technology to crack the assessments. As we move toward the innovation economy envisaged by Peter Diamandis in his books, the merging technology, thanks to disruption in hardware, would help solve some of the biggest problems, mankind is grappling with. It is then we would discover new jobs that would require new skills. Thus what we are doing now would lay the foundation for the immediate future, which might seem a little dystopian but would be inevitable. On a final note, competency standards devised by NASSCOM Futureskills(please visit our page for more details) for emerging technologies would be responsible for empowering the nation at a scale that has never been done before in history. It is a landmark achievement for the nation and would help stabilize rather insulate the labour market from any unforeseeable event of epic proportions since it would keep demand and supply in equilibrium. As the Chinese philosopher Confucius once said,”Choose a job you love and you will never have to work in your life”. Cutting an analogy we could perhaps tweak the said quote to “Choose a skill you love and you will never have to work in your life”. Come talk to us to understand how competency standards can help you as a company or an individual or an academic institution.

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