The Unbeatable Combo of Skills for a Career in Tech

The dazzling stories of tech giants and tech start-ups and the dizzying range of solutions enabled by technology is making anyone, who’s not got ‘digital’ somewhere in their job description, feeling left out.  You could be a mechanical engineer but if you haven’t got on to the Digital Twin bandwagon, you are so yesterday. You could be a chemical engineer but if you are not talking Nano, you simply don’t have your particles all lined up. You could be graphic designer, but which graphic designer worth their salt is designing on paper and pen these days?  You could be in marketing but if analytics is not your best friend, you are surely going to be lonely. 

The world of work has changed completely, disrupting all existing business models in the last two years. The only two options for businesses in the pandemic were go virtual/online or shut shop. Tech skills became indispensable to businesses across domains. Today organizations are looking out for people who are technologically skilled to meet the industry’s present and future skill demands. As a result, there is a swell in opportunities for people with the right mix of skills.  The question of course is, ‘Which Skills?’  The action is not just in the IT world – it’s everywhere!

Skills in Demand

So what skills are businesses looking for?   It is important to realise that they don’t look for a particular skill in a person but a group of the right skills.  There is a shift from traditional job roles to holistic capabilities that require a combination of technical (core and emerging) skills, professional skills, and domain skills. Being strong in your domain subject coupled with the trifecta of core programming skills, digital skills (AI, Cloud, Big Data, Cybersecurity) and professional skills (communication, collaboration, problem solving) is the winning combination, if you want to get a job, remain in a job, and then get a better job. Let’s not forget the army of entrepreneurs out there for whom the low cost of computing power, the gigabytes of data, the ubiquitousness of wi-fi and the low risk of failure means that they can take a leap of faith. Those are the people we need to encourage because it’s the entrepreneurs who will create even more jobs creating a whole new orbit of growth.

The Trifecta

Core Programming Skills

There is this large Engineering firm that has put up posters in its cafeteria illustrating concepts from Statistics and Mathematics, (e.g.- what is central limit theorem), a subtle reminder to all employees to get back to foundations.  As technology evolves, a solid foundation or going back to the drawing board makes it easier to adapt to and understand emerging technologies.  Demand for talent that is strong in their domain and in programming languages like Java, C++, .Net etc is growing. Make sure your foundations are strong because that translates to the magical characteristic that all employers are looking for – learning agility.  Today’s world is not tolerant of those who do not have the ability to learn, and a strong foundation enables you to continuously build on your learning.

Emerging Tech skills

Acquaint yourself with the emerging technologies. No matter what you’re studying or where you’re working, you need to arm yourself with enough knowledge to talk intelligently of how digital applies to your domain and of course, you definitely need to be able to use the digital tools of your trade.  An accountant cannot afford to not understand excel, an architect cannot avoid knowing about CAD, an engineer needs to know all about IoT.  Take advantage of the plethora of upskilling courses available online to skill yourself. Choose courses which offer virtual labs so that you get an experience of real-life problem solving. Certification tells the recruiter that you have invested time to acquire tech knowledge, but the killer is how you apply that knowledge in real life scenarios to make things work better.  Being able to demonstrate what you have learnt sets you apart in any hiring conversation

Professional Skills

As routine tasks get automated and machines are able to execute complex tasks, innately human and interpersonal skills will be the big differentiator. Communication, collaboration, ability to work in a team, analytical thinking, problem solving skills top the list recruiters are looking for. With hybrid work becoming the norm and more and more conversations shifting to the virtual medium, these skills become even more critical to success.   There is no joy in being brilliant at what you do if you cannot explain to someone what that brilliance can do for them.  Don’t blame ‘politics’ next time that promotion passes you by – see how the other person projected themselves and their achievements.  You must not only perform well but you need to be seen to perform well. 

NASSCOM’s FutureSkills Prime, India’s Technology Skilling Hub, is enabling working professionals and students get access to cutting edge industry curated learning content, virtual labs, supported by government incentives, to make sure that they have relevant combination of skills required in the workplace.

About the Author

Ms Kirti Seth holds over 30 years of rich experience in entrepreneurship, management and driving change. She is the CEO for the IT-ITES Sector Skills Council at NASSCOM. As the part of her role, she drives the prestigious FutureSkills Prime project, a digital skilling initiative that is a partnership between the Government of India and NASSCOM with an ambitious goal of making India the Digital Talent hub for the world.

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