Categories: Interview

Talent acquisition strategy has completely changed

Srinivas Rao K2

Sourcing process is no longer led and driven by employers who can pick and choose talent as per their requirements only. It’s an employee market too, says Srinivaas R Katkoor, Director, Human Resources, SAS India.

With a rapidly changing tech scenario and a continuous upgradation of skills, how is the industry able to cope up with the issue of employability of new engineering graduates?

As per India Skill Report 2021, less than half of the Indian engineering graduates are employable. In order to enable these students cope with the widening gap, institutes are encouraging more campus recruitment training as well as more Industry – Academia interaction for students to interface with some of the challenges of the real-world. Companies are working with universities/colleges in industry specific curriculum by looking at current and future industry talent needs to minimize the gap between industry skill requirement vis-à-vis graduates competencies.

Towards this end, SAS has also collaborated with premium institutions like IIT Kanpur, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), NMIMS, Goa Institute of Management and others to craft out curriculums to skill students and current working professionals. More recently we have partnered with Rajiv Gandhi Center for Advanced Technology to aid young job seekers and help prepare them for the future by equipping them with the new skills necessary in an increasingly digitalized economy

How employable are talents from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in terms of meeting the new-age technology requirements?

Students from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities are competent in performing basic IT roles, but they need to be further upskilled with advanced technology skills along with variety of professional skills like adaptability, empathy, teamwork, communication, and active listening.

The dynamics of organizations has changed, and the expectations are two-fold one is a technical skill and the other one is professional skills which help to work within the organization and helps in interacting with customers.

How will you describe your talent acquisition strategy in India and elsewhere?

Talent acquisition strategy has completely changed post Covid-19 pandemic.  Sourcing process is no longer led and driven by employers who can pick and choose talent as per their requirements only. It’s an employee market too. In SAS India and other global offices, our talent acquisition strategy to hire is through social media, employer branding, employee referrals, headhunting and Alumni Programs with a strong market reach activity.

We are also running internship programs together with institutes and have recently initiated a Graduate recruitment program where we train fresh graduates on the required technology skills before they are onboarded into the corporate world.

The digital normal is leading to a massive disruption and emergence of newer technologies, making skill upgrade and cross platform training very important. What is the company doing to keep pace with the need for new skill sets?

We will have to alter what we do, how we do, and the process involved. We work continuously to upskill workforce through personalized learning courses, newer technology areas, skill-specific workshops, company-sponsored degrees, and certifications. We make it our endeavor to identify on an ongoing basis what skills will be in demand considering our current and future business needs and which of those employees currently possess those skills and what newer ones need to be acquired.

Senior leaders should continuously work on innovation and look at their leadership style based on the changes within the organization and outside. An important aspect is self-awareness and interpersonal skills together with strong change and acceptance skills.

What are the key learnings in the post-Covid landscape of talent demand and supply for India so far?

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way employees and organizations work.  Post Covid-19 the demand for skilled professionals has increased but availability of competent resources with both technical and transversal skills are not as much to support the demand. Market dynamics has changed from generic skills to specialized skills and companies learned the need of specialization and working towards upskilling resources as per the current and future needs.

What are the skill gaps that exist in the employable population across India?

The skills that are contributing to the employability gap in India can be categorized into hard skills and soft skills. Some of the hard skills most in- demand include cloud computing, data analytics, DevOps, blockchain, cybersecurity and AR and VR. The soft skills in my opinion are communication, empathy and change management.

Is academia able to keep up with all the changing trends or is most of the syllabus still outdated?

Some colleges and universities are still following the old syllabus. However, most of autonomous and deemed colleges are designing curriculum based on industry needs. In fact, we have collaborated with some of the leading universities and colleges across India to incorporate AI and analytics led programs into their curriculum to bring in an analytics mindset in the formative years.

What about the skills that even senior industry leaders themselves must adopt throughout their career?

Learning is a continuous process. Every individual at every step of their career needs to introspect and reassess their current career path, skills and aspirations at regular intervals and make learning as a part of their progression. Senior leaders should continuously work on innovation and look at their leadership style based on the changes within the organization and outside. An important aspect is self-awareness and interpersonal skills together with strong change and acceptance skills.

How is women participation today, as a sign for structural economic changes?

Diversity and inclusion have become a key to success for a balanced workforce. Today women contribute to more than 30% of white-collar jobs in India. Women employees are playing vital roles across early career roles as well as in managerial and leadership roles. Their ability to bring in good governance and policy adherence in addition to empathy as well as a diverse outlook to solving challenges often bring in higher productivity.

Attrition is still a problem. How are you tackling it?

Attrition is still a problem; however, we are quite successful in handling the same by creating innovative resource planning strategies by providing strong learning and development opportunities across all levels. We are also ensuring employee engagement and change in leadership style as per the current demands and this helps us in engaging talent and controlling churn.

Srinivas Rao K

Director, Human Resources, SAS India

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