Post-COVID, professionals are investing in learning to stay future ready

Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, LinkedIn affirms that professionals have placed their faith in ‘learning’ to grapple with the new post-COVID reality, become future-proof, and stay productive during WFH. This is evident from the fact that LinkedIn Learning modules have seen an uptick of 176% in 3 months and around 67% of Indian professionals say that they will continue to increase their time spent on online learning.

IBT: How is the hiring sentiment among recruiters across the country? What kind of jobs are gaining traction in India?

Ashutosh Gupta: At LinkedIn, we have been closely monitoring the pandemic’s disruptive impact across the global market. As risks of second-wave of infections emerge, some states have imposed lockdown measures again. Given this uncertainty, the recovery is expected to remain fairly flat in the coming weeks.

Our recent Labour Market Update suggests that there has been a significant hiring rebound as the country starts to ‘unlock’ and more people return to work. Findings revealed that between early-April to end-June, hiring increased by 35% In India while hiring declines reached a low of below -50% year-on-year in April, before starting to slowly recover. The hiring sentiment stands at -15% year-on-year as of the end of June.

Additionally, our recent Labour Market India update also highlights roles that are in demand today and are expected to remain relevant in the near future. The top 5 most in-demand jobs are:

● Software Engineer
● Business Development Manager
● Sales Manager
● Business Analyst
● Content Writer

On the brighter side, we have noticed a rise in hiring on LinkedIn by technology, gaming, e-commerce, and ed-tech firms. In fact, a quick LinkedIn scan will show you that companies such as Uber, Tata Consultancy Services and HCL, have also been actively looking for talent across various verticals and are offering active openings for permanent job roles across levels.

Further, narrowing the gap between professionals and economic opportunities, LinkedIn – as part of the Microsoft ecosystem – recently launched a global skills initiative to bring more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of this year. As part of this initiative, we have identified 10 most in-demand jobs in today’s economy and made 10 corresponding LinkedIn Learning courses available for free.

IBT: What do you think about India’s transition to remote working, and what kind of opportunities do you think are available for Indian professionals in the new normal?

Ashutosh Gupta: Remote work allows organisations to rethink hiring and provide new opportunities, especially for quality candidates with geographical constraints. It’s also a great opportunity to promote internal mobility opportunities by encouraging employees to pick up new skills and move into these roles. At LinkedIn, we believe that it is even more important now for professionals and businesses to expand their digital capabilities to stay visible and connected.

Across APAC, many organisations are still navigating the new demands and constraints on their work. In fact, looking at job postings on LinkedIn across key APAC markets, we are seeing an uptick in remote job postings and applications. India is leading the pack in terms of remote job application growth, as it grew by a multiple of 4.65 between March and May.

Here are the top remote jobs applied for in India:

1. Customer support representative
2. Internet Analyst
3. Key Account Manager
4. Freelance writer
5. Customer success manager.

Further, LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index – a fortnightly pulse on the confidence of the Indian workforce, revealed that professionals from Marketing (61%), Project Management (56%) and Engineering (54%) are most confident about the effectiveness of remote working. But this optimism fades when you turn towards professionals from industries like HR and finance where in-person engagements have long since been the traditional way of work. Beyond industries and companies, this varying perception also exists among generations. Findings showed that millennials and Gen Z professionals are more likely to think they can be effective when working remotely whereas Gen X and Baby Boomers don’t seem as confident.

IBT: What are the top jobs in the country in the post-COVID scenario? Why are these popular? What are the major criteria that companies are considering while hiring/firing employees?

Ashutosh Gupta: According to LinkedIn’s Labour Market Insights of April 2020 – right after the pandemic hit the world globally, we noticed that the demand for tech talent was on the rise, along with strategic, analytical, and thinking skills. Here are the top 5 in-demand jobs:

● Software Engineer
● Business Development Manager
● Sales Manager
● Business Analyst
● Content Writer

These roles have the greatest number of job openings on LinkedIn, have seen steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be learned online. Given these sensitive times and the relentless transformation of modern technology, companies will value people with soft skills, digital skills, and the ability to evolve equally in this challenging environment – a strong cue for today’s job seekers in terms of building their professional profiles. In fact, our recent global skills initiative with Microsoft helps professionals remain cognizant of the most in-demand jobs globally, while also helping them learn the requisite skills by accessing 10 corresponding LinkedIn Learning courses and 4 soft skill courses on

IBT: What are the skills that are in demand in the job market? Given the constant need to upskill, what can job seekers in the country do to remain employable and relevant?

Ashutosh Gupta: Reskilling the workforce has emerged as a priority and a challenge for businesses, given today’s rapidly digitizing economy. This reflects strongly in LinkedIn’s Labour Market Insights, according to which the top 5 in-demand skills currently are SQL, JavaScript, Business Analysis, Adobe Illustrator and Sales Management.

Given today’s challenging workplace situation, many companies are looking for collaborative professionals who possess the right mix of hard skills, soft skills, and transferable skills to lead their teams through these testing times. As we continue to acclimatize with WFH measures, tech skills such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and analytical reasoning are expected to remain in demand, given their instrumental role in crafting the today and tomorrow of remote work measures. This surge in demand for tech skills appears to have nudged Indian professionals closer towards the path of upskilling, as our Workforce Confidence Index findings show that about two thirds of Indian professionals report that they will increase their time spent in learning new skills and building their professional profiles to make the best of these times.

IBT: Learning has seen an uptick on LinkedIn. What are your observations on the online learning trend?

Ashutosh Gupta: If there is one take away from the last few months, it is this – the importance of investing in transferable skills and digital skills to make every professional future-proof and future-ready. In the past 3 months, we have noticed an uptick of 176% in our LinkedIn Learning modules, and it is clear that Indian professionals have placed their faith in ‘learning’ to grapple with this new reality, become future-proof, and stay productive during WFH. In fact, 67% of Indian professionals say that they will continue to increase their time spent on online learning.

Since the rise of remote working in March, LinkedIn Learning content has seen the biggest surge from managers, students and senior professionals. Courses such as ‘Writing a Resume’, ‘Managing Stress for Positive Change’, and ‘Interpersonal communication’ courses saw the sharpest increase in views in April amongst learners in India, when compared to March. This suggests that Indians are keen on learning how they can present their achievements, evolve as professionals, and manage stress efficiently in these uncertain times.

Digging deep into what India is learning, we found that in April, the top 5 courses viewed on LinkedIn Learning were: ‘Time Management: Working From Home’; ‘The Six Morning Habits of High Performers’; ‘Remote Work Foundations’; ‘Tips for Working Remotely’ and ‘Strategic Thinking’

IBT: How confident are Indian professionals about their financial betterment over the next few months? Is there any particular segment of Indian professionals (e.g. high earners and decision makers) which exhibit this optimism?

Ashutosh Gupta: In April, we launched the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index to help us keep a pulse-check on the confidence of India’s professional community during this pandemic. It tells us more about their confidence levels towards jobs, opportunities, finances, and their employers in the short and long term.

Recent findings show that professionals are less worried about the future of their personal finances – a strong silver lining to the testing times we currently live in. However, during the first few weeks of the lockdown, nearly two-thirds of Indian professionals reported a decrease in earned income, and nearly 50% have reported a decrease in personal spending in the past 3 months. This was expected, considering that businesses across the world were going through pay cuts, lay offs, and furloughs.

Self-employed professionals were among the hardest hit when it comes to earned income, with 62% reporting a decrease in personal income, followed by senior executives with 40% citing a decrease in earned income.

However, subsequent waves have shown that the outlook to finances is improving – and this is possibly as the country prepares to ‘return to work’. About 1 in 4 professionals have reported that they expect an increase in their earned income, investments, and personal spending. And about 1 in 3 professionals in India expect an increase in their personal savings. Further, as several industries and firms continue to strengthen their workforce, professionals in India are growing confident about their ability to improve their financial situation in the near future.

Ashutosh Gupta is a veteran sales leader, with nearly two decades of experience in the Internet, and IT & Software Services industries across firms such as Google, Cognizant, and Infosys. He joined LinkedIn in 2013 to lead LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions (LMS) in India, where he scaled the Enterprise business. In 2016, he moved to Singapore to build LMS’s Online Sales Organisation (OSO) for Asia Pacific and China.

As LinkedIn’s India Country Manager since September 2019, he is focused on the next wave of growth for the business and in making LinkedIn an integral part of the country’s national agenda in terms of jobs and upskilling of India’s professional workforce. India is a strategic market for LinkedIn, and Ashutosh is focused on fostering key government relationships to inform policy-making, to propel the LinkedIn brand forward, and to evangelise the value of the LinkedIn brand to members and customers. His seasoned leadership and deep market experience, make him highly skilled at building businesses at scale and to outline and implement the right strategic plans for India.

In addition to his role as Country Manager, Ashutosh continues to lead the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions’ Online Sales Organization (OSO) for Asia Pacific and China.

Ashutosh is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow and Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), Varanasi. He is currently based in Gurgaon and shuttles between Bengaluru and Gurgaon in his role as India Country Manager for LinkedIn.

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