Need of the hour: Balance between new-age technology skills and fundamental management, organisational and decision-making abilities
Most B-school graduates have been on tenterhooks ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
After a year of turmoil, they’re still focused on breaking loose from the economic slump and finding a suitable work opportunity.
As India battles the second wave of the pandemic, the job market has taken a massive hit. Recent government regulations and an extensive lockdown imposed since April have added to the struggle. The economic repercussions of the pandemic remind us of similar past events, including the 2001 dot-com bubble burst and the 2009 global recession, which saw the global economy plummeting significantly.
As final-year business school students look forward to graduating in 2021, there’s an upsurge of panic and uncertainty about their employment prospects. Mapping a career path amid all looming fears can be challenging. Nevertheless, it is important to gain a perspective of the current workplace scenario and be prepared for the much-anticipated onset of a professional journey. Here are the common concerns among B-school graduates while choosing the right workplace in 2021:
A slump in hiring: The current economic slowdown has led to a hiring slump. Companies have either limited or postponed recruitment drives. Industry experts believe that the trend could last from a couple of months to a couple of years, depending on the pace at which the pandemic recedes. However, on the bright side, new challenges have increased the demand for technology-driven skill sets in sectors such as EdTech, FinTech, HealthTech, Consulting, Cybersecurity, Gaming, Analytics, Cloud Computing, AI, ML and Data Analytics, and fresh B-school graduates should be on the lookout for opportunities in these domains.
The future of workspace: Many graduates contemplate adapting to post-COVID workspaces. While a typical corporate work-week has remained unchanged for decades, the pandemic has triggered significant reforms and pushed forth the ultra-modern concept of hybrid work. Since March of 2020, many companies have re-defined their talent acquisition process to embrace hybrid employment, digital workstations and flexible work arrangements. These practices have proved to be of great benefit for both parties: the employers now have access to a wider talent pool and the employees have an option of working from their preferred location without the obligation to shift their base. Hence, the prospect of a diverse employment model which surpasses conventional practices and offers a better work-life balance is turning into the dominant trend.
Besides, the new workspace dynamics have broken down geographical barriers, allowing candidates to consider international offers, an opportunity that was previously limited. On the flip side, if work from home becomes a set norm, which seems quite likely, there is a huge possibility that international work opportunities could lose their appeal and exclusivity in terms of on-site relocation.
Acquiring new skills: One of the contemporary dilemmas faced by numerous young graduates revolves around the new skills they must learn to stay relevant in the current job market. In addition to acquiring new skills, B-school graduates also need to embrace the era of rapid digitalisation with a positive mindset. Developing an understanding of new-age technology skills, including Data Science, AI, ML and Process Automation, without losing grip on fundamental management, organisational and decision-making abilities during adverse times, will be of great value. To achieve a balance of both would hold much relevance, especially while coordinating with virtual teams working remotely.
Work and employee policies: Considering the heightened anxiety among employees because of the evolving workplace dynamics, many organisations have adopted more transparent and employee-friendly policies to help them work in difficult times. Companies are no longer limiting themselves to stringent target-based systems, and are focusing on human-centric methods for the well-being of their employees. Considering rampant mutations and newly emerging virus variants, many organisations are even investing in long-term health policies and insurance plans for their employees. A comparative analysis of employee policies can help young graduates in identifying the right workplace.
Remuneration and recruitment: Bagging a lucrative compensation has been one of the most rewarding aspects of pursuing an MBA programme from a premium B-School. The current circumstances have made young management graduates sceptical about the pandemic’s impact on their remuneration. Although recruitment drives have slowed down, profitable companies are not shying away from paying a premium to attract qualified talent. Having said that, prospective candidates should be cognizant of the fact that the overall CTCs might witness a dip, considering additional benefits such as travel or location allowances have lost their relevance in the hybrid work era.
Besides, the pandemic has urged organisations to automate most operations, including the hiring process. Companies are increasingly adjusting to selection through virtual modes of interaction, including Zoom calls. Moving forward, automation and HR analytics are going to be the crux of recruitment processes, including proctored remote tests and psychometric analysis. It seems to be a progressive strategy, since it is likely to infuse speed and efficiency in the system, allowing recruiters to assess more candidates in a shorter time frame.
The author is the CEO of Masters' Union School of Business. He has over 20 years’ industrial experience with Adlabs, ICICI Lombard, Titan, and Ambuja Cements.
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