In this short article, I want to explore 3 different but inter-connected topics in my mind. The first, high value to work experience and work-life-balance; second youth, skills & employment and third our mindset.
Work Experience & Work-life-balance
Throughout my career I have come across candidates, employees & colleagues, who often introduce themselves proudly by their years of professional experience. I am sure there are many reasons for everyone to be proud their years of work experience. However, work experience has many facets such as quantity, quality, variety, intensity and relevance.
Does quantity of experience matter at all? How does one ensure experience is qualitatively good and relevant to the times? What is the variety in experiences that people should create to ensure there is improvement in the overall quality (of their experience)? In a world where conversations around work-life-balance has been blown out of proportion; what is the right intensity of experience you need to maintain throughout your tenure to ensure your experience is rich in its content.
Speaking about work-life-balance, when we look at countries that are ahead of us (like USA, EU, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore etc.), there were 3–4 generations of people who dedicated their lives to build their countries, so that their future generations could work 5-days or 4-days (as in EU) today. But these generations of people who dedicated themselves to nation building slogged 6–7 days a week; to create a better future for their children. As a country, are we there yet? Despite being the 5th largest economy in the world; by per capital GDP we are way behind rest of the world. We are a poor country and many more generations of Indians would have to dedicate themselves to building an India that our children can reap benefits from.
Youth, Skills & Employment
A few decades earlier, probably in the 1970–2000, the world wasn’t changing fast enough. Our parents could live through their jobs for 30–35 years, without adding many new skills. Since the twin developments of globalisation and digitisation in the world over the last 20 years, the landscape has changed considerably. While India proudly flaunts its youthfulness as a nation with the largest youth population, a sad narrative that closely follows is that we have the world’s largest unskilled and incompetent population (for what the world needs today). Its foolhardy to believe that generating employment is going to change everything for us as a nation. While there may be 200 million unemployed youth, let’s spend a little time to understand where our 100 million employed youth are today, despite being employed.
As a country we produce 1.5+ million Engineers & MBAs, who are hired by companies and retrained to suit the job they are hired to. Once they are in jobs, they start accumulating work experience. The pace of accumulation of new skills is slower than the accumulated years of experience. After a decade or two, most employed people become irrelevant. If you look at the statistics of the number of high-cost employed people losing jobs in some of the leading companies in India; it gives you a clear indication that they have worked themselves out of their jobs by making themselves replaceable by a less experienced lower-cost person. What’s the rationale of talking about employment or job creation; when people who are employed are not doing what it takes to remain relevant?
The problem we face today isn’t unemployment or job creation or lack of skills or an unskilled workforce. The biggest problem that we as a nation are facing today is the mindset, we have gotten ourselves into. The mindset of — entitlement; complacency; complaining; looking to others for direction; and taking shortcuts to success. One can argue that the concept of mixed economy model (Socialist & Capitalist); the political gamesmanship of “free” by successive Governments in the State & Center; the license & inspector raj till the early 90’s; our education system and a combination of many other factors might have played a huge role in the mindset we as people wear each day. This mindset has gotten so deeply ingrained in our psyche that it is all pervasive.
Is there a way for us to create an environment of positive and infinite mindset in our people? A mindset of self-reflection, compassion, constant self-improvement, solution-orientation, forgiveness and thinking future. Such a mindset will generate not only a positive climate in organisations but endless possibilities. To influence and impact mindset of people; one needs to approach the problem not through band-aids but through re-engineering its culture. These efforts would require deep sense of belief, long-term leadership commitment, focus and tenacity.
What do you think?
Director & Advisor | PGC