What is expertise economy?

Are you ready for the expertise economy? Constant upskilling and gaining expertise beyond education is the millennial way to work.

At the age of 25, Gautam Soni, who works as a business analyst at LinkedIn in Bengaluru, has already pivoted twice in his career. After graduating, he did not find a job immediately and tried his hand as a digital media consultant. Two years later, he become interested in data science and pursued a post-graduation diploma with UpGrad, an online course and certification site, investing all his savings into it.

While completing the course, he joined LinkedIn India in operations. He was encouraged to apply his learning on the operations role and in a few months, moved to business analysis, getting a 75% salary hike. “In jobs today, we face new challenges on a daily basis and it’s very important to stay updated and possess the right skill-set,” says Soni.

Soni’s experience captures work life in the age of digitization and acceleration where the world of work is going through a large-scale transition and critical skills and expertise are imperative for success. “New platforms, technologies and ways of business are sprouting constantly,” says Kelly Palmer, co-author of The Expertise Economy, “Businesses and employees need to make sure they have expertise to make these changes work for them. The career path of a future employee focuses on skill development rather than college pedigree,” she explains.

Prateek Benya says upskilling is required – be it through learning from someone in your own company or taking up a course. Photo: Saisen/Mint

Forward thinking companies have already restructured their process in such a way that employees have the choice, and freedom to decide what expertise they want to develop. For startups like 75F, a company that makes efficient buildings using internet of things and cloud computing, upskilling is a necessity to remain competitive in a fast changing, dynamic market.

“From our CEO to a new intern, every employee in our workforce has to stay at pace with technology,” says Oindri Sengupta, HR head, 75F India. “This is why we prioritize learning and development and invest in our people to upskill.” Every new employee goes through an intensive training program and then continues updating themselves through in-house libraries, online courses, industry-relevant certifications and training programs.

The value of an individual today lies in the knowledge and skills he or she brings to an employer or an organization and millennials recognize this, says Lisa Cannell, MD and leadership professor at Darden School of Business in University of Virginia, US in an email interview. This new wave has changed how employees view their careers.

“Millennials now value skill building and development opportunities within a job as much as compensation. If they don’t get required training from companies, they find courses to reskill themselves.”

Lisa Cannell, MD and leadership professor at Darden School of Business in University of Virginia

A company that provides learning opportunities is important, feels Bengaluru-based Kanica Wadhen. “It is necessary to equip myself with market-driven skills especially if I work in a fast-paced technology company,” says Wadhen, who has been with Harman, an audio technology company, since past five years. Wadhen’s education was in advertising, but through training she joined Harman in a delivery management role.

Swathy Krishna believes that updating your skills in a competitive environment, such as data science, is vital. Photo: Saisen/Mint

Within a year, thanks to the company’s supporting HR policies, she had trained to conduct internal audit and became a certified internal auditor. In the third year of her employment, she tried supplier interface and in her fourth, it was budget controlling. “Currently I’m playing four roles and I am keen on learning new things to keep my career vibrant and challenging,” she says.

Like Wadhen, for 30-year-old Swathy Krishna, a data science analyst with Verizon Data Services in Chennai, reskilling is as important as working hard. “In my field of machine learning and automation, every day new software and algorithms are being introduced,” says Krishna, “If I don’t update my skillsets regularly, my work will stagnate and I might lose the job to a better resource or even to automation.”

The constant millennial need to upskill has helped another type of an industry—the one that gives online certifications. Almost 70% of professionals who have taken a course through Great Learning, have achieved a career transition within six months, something that feels like an achievement to Hari Krishnan Nair, the company’s co-founder. “This proves that companies are looking for people with hands-on knowledge to solve business problems,” he says.

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