Specialised degrees to be relevant in the digital era

Degree programmes are often considered the bridge between a formal education and industries. Earning a degree is a long-term investment to secure one’s future with a steady career progression. Students enrol in their favourite course, a degree that matches their ambition, thinking of a lifetime payback after the course.

However, the VUCA world, while transforming the job market, has also redefined the traditional perspective of education. Today, a generalist course is unlikely to ensure a balanced career growth. With the world undergoing tremendous transformation driven by disruptive technologies and behavioural change of emerging generations, degree courses also need to be reimagined to meet the current and future requirements.

Digital transformation has led to the creation of new professions by overhauling several traditional job roles. It has also increased the demand for skilled workforces with niche skills. According to a Dell Technology report, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 are yet to be invented. To cater to these requirements – current and future – many new courses are being introduced. The higher education institutions (HEIs) are now incorporating new-age domains into their degree programmes either as electives or specialisations.

Programming languages, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing, IoT, cybersecurity and others are finding their place in the syllabus of IT and computer application courses. Operations management, finance, marketing, retail management, and BFSI are being incorporated in management and business degree programmes. Some specialisations, like analytics and data science, IT and FinTech can be found in both the science and business curricula.

Future-proof learning
By including new skills and cutting-edge technologies in the course syllabus, HEIs aim to help students acquire knowledge and marketable skills needed for the future workforce. The major advantages of having specialisations in the new-age courses include:

  • Acquiring in-demand skills: By offering specialisations, i.e., incorporating new and emerging domains in the course syllabus, HEIs are trying to deliver hands-on training on the in-demand skills to students. This will help students understand what to expect in the real world and improve their skills to thrive in their careers.
  • Improving employability: As the demand for skilled talent increases, students who successfully complete a course with specialisations in a trending domain can find a job effortlessly. Having a new-age skill in hand improves their career prospects exponentially.
  • Becoming a leader: A specialised degree will help a candidate to become an authority in the domain. Within a short span of time, he/she can be an expert and leader in their respective domain of choice. 
  • Exploring global prospects: Many countries have a deficiency in their workforce where emerging skills are concerned, and the skills gap is widening. After graduating with a specialised degree, a skilled candidate can explore lucrative career options – globally.
  • Being resilient: Uncertainty prevails in the digital age. Many job roles are becoming redundant or obsolete as and when new technologies emerge. Having a degree with a specialisation in an emerging domain will ensure professionals remain employable in future disruptions.
  • Lifelong learning: Emerging skills are constantly evolving vis-à-vis technological advancement. Thanks to various players that are involved in the research and development of cutting-edge technologies, different tools, products, and updates are introduced frequently. Professionals need to monitor these innovations and update themselves to stay relevant. It would keep them in learning mode throughout their careers.

The traditional concept of education is evolving to become a more personalised, purpose-oriented learning ecosystem. Students now want to pursue a future-proof course and focus on specialising in a specific domain. New-age programmes with skill-based training are designed to help them achieve this goal and remain relevant in the future workplace.

The impact of artificial intelligence within the recruitment industry

Technological innovations are inspiring and provide limitless prospects in today’s dynamic world. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been gaining immense popularity and a flurry of recent technological developments has had a significant influence on the HR and recruitment sectors. Businesses have been streamlining their recruiting processes by leveraging AI-based results and are now combining AI and the convenience of remote hiring to improve their recruitment procedures. Technology has changed the way jobs are posted, how applications are managed and shortlisted, and how we contact and interview applicants.

Challenges faced during the recruitment
With a large number of freshers and job seekers right now, recruiters are under tremendous pressure to respond quickly to a volatile economic environment. Businesses are facing significant difficulties in finding high-quality candidates in large numbers, especially when they must manually manage processes. Another issue that most recruiters confront is tracking and categorising large-scale recruiting metrics generated by a huge number of applications. Many businesses struggle to create an efficient and well-structured selection process. It is challenging for stakeholders to make efficient, data-driven, optimal recruiting or staff development decisions. Not to mention platform limitations and flaws such as a lack of centralised visibility to manage assessment procedures, a lack of management and coordination between departments, and so on.

Leveraging AI to enhance the hiring process
Integrating AI-driven talent sourcing into any organisation is critical. Shifting to an AI-driven data approach will solve problems that organisations are facing today and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the recruitment process. Analysing applicant and employee data may help identify recruiting bottlenecks and methodically structure and refine hiring efforts across the board. End-to-end recruiting operations can be done swiftly and digitally with the use of AI, allowing the operation cycle to be optimised. It also significantly enhances the matching of suitable candidates to the right jobs. AI can assist businesses in finding the best applicants by matching portfolios, screening candidates, and automatically generating reports. Data-driven recruiting eliminates manual processing resulting in a more unified, unbiased, cost-effective, and seamless system for the present and future.

AI helps simplify and enhance the decision-making process
In the long run, AI will help retain existing employees by substantially decreasing their burden and making the hiring experience more rewarding. The outstanding feature of AI is its capacity to anticipate problems and provide relevant solutions. This helps enhance the appeal of businesses, both on a client and employee level. Recruiters can ensure more quality prospects and increased productivity for current and potential clients by tracking people performance and potential.

Artificial Intelligence will enable businesses to establish an effective ecosystem and boost the relationship between recruiters and hiring managers by creating a process of feedback too. By allowing time for planning, in-depth thinking, and a more complete result-generation process, data-driven hiring has the potential to transform the whole recruitment sector.

A comprehensive modular assessment ecosystem that might bring together the scattered components of the employment process into a cohesive platform providing holistic end-to-end assessment solutions has been sorely absent thus far. Being part of the next-generation digital assessment revolution will provide organisations the opportunity to develop strong workforces and improve their decision-making processes.

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Is AI the future of recruitment?

Things were simpler in the Black and White era of the Human Resource procedures and recruitment than they are today. The reason for this is that the demands, challenges, and options available to HR managers back then were very different from those available today. The world of recruitment has changed as artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming a must-have tool in every recruiter’s toolbox.

Skillsets have changed and are constantly changing. Candidates are now looking at jobs and careers in entirely new ways. Furthermore, their priorities have shifted, and they are no longer congregating in the same locations. That is why traditional recruitment techniques now lag far behind modern methods such as AI-based recruitment.

Sujatha Kumaraswamy, CEO, MeritTrac Services, says, “We’ll see AI-based recruiting making inroads towards pre-screening candidates objectively and shortlisting the most meritocratic set of candidates for the job.”

“HR teams will be seen to leverage remote auto proctoring tools that will capture every action of a candidate and provide a trust score to the recruiter along with competency scores. This will continue to be an evolving field as systems get more mature with time,” adds Kumaraswamy.

Another industry expert, S Pasupathi, Chief Operating Officer, HirePro, feels the same. According to him, recruiters will be able to ensure a fair hiring process by using AI proctoring for identity verification and conducting fraud and cheat proof video interviews and assessments online.

He believes that AI has helped organisations reduce their hiring cycle by allowing recruiters and hiring managers to seamlessly schedule and conduct both synchronous and asynchronous video interviews online. AI-powered recruitment tools will witness a steep adoption rate in the near future.

How can recruiters focus on acquiring or building ethical AI considering its pitfalls?

The first thing that should be kept in mind is that AI should only assist humans in efficient decision making instead of making decisions on its own.

Pasupathi says that recruiters can steer clear of bias by being selective about the AI tools that they use in the recruitment process. For example, it is not advisable to entirely rely on AI for auto rejecting candidates or to draw inferences on their behaviour or characteristics during video interviews. The right way to go about this would be to use AI enabled processes along with human review.

Kumaraswamy says that these are tried and tested scientific methods that will see increasing usage to handle all biases while remote hiring. According to him, remote hiring has mandated the usage of technology and that is one of the best ways to eliminate hiring biases and pitfalls due to the nature of the tools and platforms used.

He suggests that technology trends like AI should be applied to interventions at different levels and should help identify the medium of learning that is most effective for an individual and propose learning modules in such a way that ensures maximum retention.

Thus, it can also be said that data produced by AI-backed platforms is not only restricted to the recruitment process but also to internal HR processes.

Is AI almost a necessity now?
Industry experts believe that the rate at which AI is being used by organisations for smart decision making and reduced costs will only multiply in the coming years. From resume parsing for faster, fairer recruiting to proctoring and online collaboration for effective and cost-efficient hiring, AI is increasingly becoming indispensable for organisational optimisation.

Also, now companies rely on algorithm-based predictions to eliminate bias and yield more consistent, quality results by creating an environment for objectivity in the decision-making process. This will help talent management holistically in hiring processes, identifying role suitability, talent identification and cross-functional movements.

Kumaraswamy says, “Over the last few months, we have seen increasing interest from all our clients to re-evaluate their current HR and recruitment processes and identify areas of improvement to make their models more robust and suited to the current working environment.”

Therefore, it can be said that HR processes have adopted digital modes already and the change is here to stay due to the cost-effective and agile nature of hybrid digital processes. Data-backed platforms ensure that more objective and data-driven decisions are made that can even help improve employee retention over a longer period.

A lot of companies are now also incorporating external cognitive and behavioural assessments as part of their appraisal cycle to identify employee profiles and establish a well-mapped career path. The usage of video sessions has also reduced the overall cycle time that provides an opportunity to have more periodic appraisals against a one final year-end appraisal.

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Professional mentorship & career assistance as a mutually beneficial alliance

“A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of you to show you how they did it. A mentor walks alongside you to show you what you can do.”

Mentors play a significant role in shaping the life of a mentee. They help build a vision, set milestones, and plan one’s way ahead to achieve the best of their potential. As individuals think about progressing in their careers, one of the most efficient ways is through professional mentorship and handholding as they prepare for their future. A mentor’s knowledge, insights, experiences, and advice are crucial for learner success. Especially today, with a large segment of learners being online, guidance from seasoned advisors will go a long way in helping students learn through experiences – theirs and others’, get new perspectives, and increase their professional opportunities.

How can mentorship be a mutually beneficial alliance? Let’s find out.

  1. Helps bridge the skills gap. Workforce development on the whole can be improved by enabling and nurturing skills needed today. Mentors plan and strategise plans and goals to enable their mentee’s personal and professional growth, and also aid organisational productivity. They help their mentees build a new set of skills to secure better job prospects or roles, increase their income, and find more steady employment.
  2. Promotes a culture of learning. Both the mentor and mentee stand to gain a lot by working and learning from each other – the different levels of experience, background, insights, and awareness of new trends help them both gain a fresh perspective on things and learn a new way of thinking. This culture of constant learning can be quite rewarding, and personally and professionally fulfilling.
  3. Widens networks. Network is net worth. Mentors are strong idols for many individuals. They help build and expand a network of personal and professional contacts that is almost invaluable to measure. Students can gain immensely through this conscious networking effort and leverage their contacts to pick the right career and smoothly transition into their preferred role.
  4. Expands know-how and builds leadership skills. Those with no prior work experience don’t know what to expect as they enter the workforce. A little handholding enables mentees to understand what they need to do to succeed in the real world. Helping mentees prioritise courses, podcasts, books, etc. can help them develop the skills and knowledge needed to move up to the next level. And while they help their mentees navigate this phase, mentors subconsciously strengthen their leadership quality through the guidance they provide.

Career development involves more than choosing a field of study and pinning down a job post graduation. It is an ongoing process that impacts life beyond formal education and sheds light on continually making career and life decisions. The goal of mentoring and counselling is not just to help students pick a career but to make it meaningful, worthwhile, and to add purpose to life which makes it fulfilling. Dually, career assistance and mentorship go a long way in shaping people’s futures. And all those resolved to make an impact and push the limits; you must definitely leverage this incredibly powerful professional growth tool – mentoring.

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