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How Upskilling and Reskilling Programs can Give Your Company a Competitive Edge


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Today’s low unemployment levels and high demand for skilled workers have created fierce competition among companies seeking to hire top talent. For job seekers, this is a blessing. For employers, it’s an increasingly expensive and difficult challenge to ensure that their workforce’s needs are being met.

Identifying the Issues Facing Employers 

The first problem is hiring staff members with the right skills for the digital age. Another is ensuring existing staff members can compete with new, highly technical entrants. Eighty percent of all job roles will require key digital competencies by the end of 2020 and Artificial Intelligence is on a path to replace about 120 million workers from the world’s 12 largest economies in the next three years. But the vast majority of today’s workforce isn’t digitally native.

This is especially critical for women in the workplace, who are in a disproportionate level of jobs affected by automation and the need to be trained for higher-skilled roles.

Workers lacking proper experience or training don’t just find themselves at a disadvantage in the broader labor market — they can keep companies from reaching their full potential. According to consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 55% of employers believe skills shortages prevent companies from being able to effectively innovate.

Training Employees Through Upskilling and Reskilling

To enhance and retain their workforce, companies are resorting to two essential strategies: upskilling and reskilling programs. These programs enable companies to help employees develop new skills for existing roles or new positions, or prepare for future leadership.

Each program is distinct in its own right. Upskilling helps one develop new skills for their current role; reskilling helps one develop different skills in preparation for a new role. For example, an Adobe Premiere video editor learning how to use Avid is upskilling; while a video editor learning how to become a producer is reskilling.

These programs must be tailored towards specific skills. Three of the most essential workforce upskilling categories are business and science skills, like marketing or data; human or soft skills, like critical thinking or leadership skills; and technology skills, like digital literacy or artificial intelligence applications.

Upskilling and reskilling are leading to some shifting trends in the workforce:

Workers are Spending More Time Learning

According to a survey by Boston Consulting Group and The Network, 65% of respondents spend significant amounts of time learning new skills to stay competitive and relevant in their jobs. This trend is most visible in countries that believe trends like upskilling will greatly affect employment. Most notably, 85% of respondents in Nigeria spend greater amounts of time learning compared to less than 43% of respondents in France. In Southeast Asia, 20 million people will learn digital skills by the end of 2020 via the World Economic Forum’s Digital ASEAN initiative. In the United Arab Emirates, 93% of workers are ready to invest their free time to learn a new set of skills.

Trainings are Paving the Way for More Internal Hiring

In Deloitte's recent Global Human Capital Trends survey, 77% of organizations lean towards training existing new employees rather than hiring new talent. Companies are providing the resources necessary for employees across the world to engage in web-based learning, such as AT&T's $1 billion USD investment in online courses through Coursera and Udacity. Re-educating existing employees can offset recruitment challenges caused by low employment and a lengthy hiring process.

Workers are Getting More Long-Term Support at Their Jobs

According to PwC's Talent Trends 2019 report, one of the most effective methods of reskilling leans towards the development of soft skills, resulting in fulfilling, rewarding workplace experiences. For example, IBM believes that personalized employee development experiences, which allow employees to develop skills in areas that will impact business the most, can ultimately lead to greater innovation from within.

The development of these soft skills also promotes diversity and inclusion. For example, it helps women, who bring more soft skills to their roles than men, better use those skills to break into roles or departments that are traditionally dominated by men.

Women’s Upward Mobility in Leadership Roles 

Upskilling and retraining programs require a focus on potential in future jobs — something women stand to gain the most from. In fact, women outscore men on three of the four “potential” traits in the workplace — curiosity, determination, and engagement. But women often don’t have the support and guidance to capitalize on that potential, thanks in part to only 5% of women in CEO roles in the Fortune 500 to look to and shouldering more unpaid work than men in every region of the world. Thankfully, trainings that source promising leaders and proactively teach them the skills required are giving women that stepping stone.

Organizations looking to strengthen the skills of its workforce, build strong relationships, and create opportunities for future advancement will continue to use upskilling and reskilling to future-proof operations. Delivering those new skills and information in the workplace can help companies strengthen and ultimately maintain a competitive edge in today’s labor market.


Female Entrepreneurship and the WTCA

Khair Ull Nissa, Board Member, WTCA; Executive Director, World Trade Center Noida

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Today, the presence of women in positions of influence, power, and leadership is underwhelming. Globally, women represented just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs in 2018 and 2019. In India, we have seen women leaders face greater and bigger challenges than their male counterparts as they battle against perceptions, gender disparity and stereotypical beliefs. However, with changing times and workforce trends, this reality is also changing, and more and more women are breaking the glass ceiling to lead the way across businesses in India. 

I joined World Trade Center (WTC) Noida in 2013 after successful stints at Viridian RED, Era Landmarks, Paras Buildtech, Banday Impex, Labrez Trading LLC, Al-Sultani Furniture Trading LLC, Kohimaran Trading, Pace, and the World Bank. Over the past seven years, I was instrumental in increasing WTCA’s presence in India from 14 cities to 26 cities, bringing WTCs to cities including Noida, Noida-CBD, GIFT City, and Chandigarh. Today, as the Executive Director at WTC Noida, I am focused on transforming businesses, as well as creating visibility and spearheading services for WTC’s existing and future network of tier-II cities in India including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bhopal, Faridabad, Kanpur, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Patna, Surat, Vadodara, and Varanasi.

WTC Noida is instrumental in delivering on multiple areas of businesses in India, including the launch and promotion of WTC services, collaboration with government at both the central and state levels, policy analysis and advocacy, market information and analysis, cluster development, investment opportunities, MOU signings with state and national trade bodies, development of strategies on SME HUBs and innovation HUBs, international facilitation and networking, and co-organization of business meets, seminars, and conferences. With support from the WTCA’s branding, WTC Noida is greatly positioned to invite investors to explore Noida as a potential investment destination. Thanks to our 360-Degree holistic development ecosystem of 5E’s (Enhancing Trade Infrastructure, Empowering Trade Policies, Enriching Entrepreneurs, Engaging Global Stakeholders, and Encouraging Investment), WTC Noida is in a position to comfortably market our projects and services to bring desirable changes to our local community, and further our expansion in India.

In addition to our daily efforts, we are actively working to highlight women’s efforts and further inspire them to unleash their talents as they change countless people’s lives by providing start-up assistance and accelerator programs, skilling and upskilling training programs, and micro-financing workshops. Accordingly, women are at the forefront of all WTC Noida’s initiatives — female “pink-collar” advocacy in manufacturing is an area we are promoting heavily at WTC Noida, with reference to the electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM) sector. Currently, WTC Noida has more than 33% in-house women employees who represent various functional capacities across sales and marketing, human resources, finance, IT, site supervision, leasing, and projects and designing. To celebrate and recognize our in-house female staff, we are organizing an event on International Women’s Day on March 8, which will consist of a luncheon, quiz contest, and award ceremony.

We have also been incentivizing female entrepreneurs to access WTC Noida’s trade services and WTC infrastructures. WTC Noida promotes female entrepreneurs through its accelerator program Viridian e-Spark by assisting them with the “3Ms” – money, market and mentorship – and creating opportunities for women through collaboration with national chapters, female state councils, and other female-focused organizations.

WTC Noida is also an active participant in various women-oriented events hosted by national trade associations including the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) of India, and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI). In honor of International Women’s Day, we are participating in the panel discussion at the upcoming CMA Womennovator Conclave 2020 event, sharing our professional experiences and encouraging female entrepreneurs to explore services being offered by WTC Noida. Specifically, we are targeting our outreach to female entrepreneurs who are excelling in their field and can benefit from WTC Noida’s global and local access. 

Our team is also contributing to the Indian government’s efforts to empower future female entrepreneurs through Mahila-E-Haat, a bi-lingual online marketplace that leverages technology to help aspiring female entrepreneurs, self-help groups, and NGOs to showcase their products and services; Mahila Shakti Kendra to empower rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition; and Working Women, our co-living separate tower specifically for working women. With the focus of empowering female entrepreneurs throughout India, WTC Noida is in the process of partnering with leading regional bodies and state governments to develop respective industry HUBs, innovation HUBs, facilitation centers and WTC desks in prominent cities across India. 

At WTC Noida, we wholeheartedly recognize the women who are contributing to our success, acknowledging their groundbreaking efforts to bridge the gender gap, change the lives of people in our local community, break stereotypical beliefs, and empower other women to rise into their respective professional careers.

WTC Noida’s Way Forward

In India, WTC Noida is strategically spearheading the WTCA’s goal of connecting globally and prospering locally, aligning with the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and Amritsar-Delhi-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (ADKIC) — India’s ambitious, mega infrastructure projects — and inspiring women leadership contributing to the WTCA’s further expansion in India.

We invite global women entrepreneurs to explore the unexplored with WTC Noida and assist us in achieving India’s goal of US $5 trillion economy by 2024.


The Importance of Women's Leadership in Economies Around the World


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Strong leadership requires confidence, determination, and integrity. While traits like these are not exclusive to any gender, women only hold 24% of senior leadership positions around the globe. This systemic imbalance often leaves women without the opportunities they need to further their careers and develop into leaders in businesses anywhere in the world.

Gender inequality in the workplace has been an unfortunate long-term reality. Less than half of women — 47.7% — participated in the global labor force in 2019, down from 50.9% in 1990. Holding less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEO roles remains a stubborn and challenging statistic, especially considering there were zero Fortune 500 female CEOs as recently as 1995. 

Despite this gap, women often make the most effective business leaders. Research suggests that companies with the highest percentage of female board directors outperform those with smaller percentages, and women tend to rank higher in core leadership competencies such as collaboration and self development. In addition, female entrepreneurs generate twice the revenue of their male counterparts with the same amount of investment.

Elevating women to leadership positions isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s good business. Thankfully, regions around the world are currently making great strides to help women grow into and succeed in leadership to combat gender inequality. Here are some examples of initiatives from Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East/Africa and North America.

Asia Pacific

According to McKinsey & Company, women in Asia contribute to 36% of Asia’s GDP, but labor force contributions have been historically divided between single and married workers. While gender inequality remains high throughout the region, economic development, government policies, and technological change are each driving a greater migration toward an equal workplace with female-powered leadership. For example, the International Finance Corporation, a sister organization of the World Bank, has trained more than 300 women for future board directors positions in Sri Lanka and helped develop India's corporate governance scorecard, which features gender diversity as a prime factor.

Europe

Throughout the European Union, one out of three managers are female, and 28% of senior roles are held by women. To advance gender equality, the European Commission has launched several initiatives to reduce the gender pay gap, such as adopting a Pay Transparency Recommendation and ensuring that at least 40% of the Commission’s middle and senior managers are women by the end of 2019, and improve the work-life balance for parents, such as adopting a comprehensive package of policy and legal measures to modernize EU legislation on family-related leave and flexible working arrangements. Some companies, such as Accenture UK, have prioritized their commitment to company-wide diversity and have tailored programs to develop women executives. In this case, the organization's Chief Leadership Officer regularly meets with senior leaders to discuss women's initiatives and develop plans for change.

Latin America

According to a survey by McKinsey & Company, gender diversity has become a top priority in Latin America, with 37% of respondents identifying the issue as a major strategic agenda item. In addition to traditional issues women face in the workplace, political instability has affected the implementation of laws that promote and encourage women’s empowerment. Nevertheless, Latin America is emerging as a hub for female STEM entrepreneurs, with women leading 35% of Latin America’s financial tech startups.

Middle East/Africa 

Women represent around 49% of the MENA region’s total population but, on average, represent just 4.8% of total voting board seats in MENA’s 142 largest public companies.

But women are making strides in breaking into leadership roles. In Lebanon, Raya Al-Hassan became the first female interior minister in the entire Arab world. Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud became the first female ambassador to represent Saudi Arabia. In Bahrain, women comprise one-third of the foreign ministry personnel. The MENA-OECD Working Group on Corporate Governance is an example of an initiative that supports policy makers in MENA to improve gender balance in corporate leadership.

North America

According to the Center for American Progress, women have faced challenges in ascending to leadership positions across different industries. For instance, 22.7% of women in the legal profession are partners, and 16% of medical school instructors are permanent medical school deans. Despite this, organizations are continuing to make concerted efforts to encourage female leadership. For example, in 2005, after Allstate launched a sponsorship/training program designed to pair women with leaders within the company, 20% of participants earned promotions and 50% of participants at the director level were promoted to vice president. Regions across the United States are also following suit to enforce laws to promote gender equality. For example, California passed a law in 2018 mandating that every public company in the state have a woman on the board by the end of 2019 or pay a one-time fine of $100,000 USD.

Around the world, organizations have started recognizing and addressing gender disparity. Over the past decade, gender quotas, new policies, and pressure from investors have significantly boosted female board participation in organizations across various industries. Looking to the future, expanding on current policies such as paid maternity and paternity leave, requiring gender-balanced government cabinets, and implementing childcare subsidies can help bridge the gender gap further and reduce typical work-life balance issues faced by women.


Top Regions and Trends for Hosting Business Events and Meetings


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For corporate event attendees, the idea of a typical event can evoke images of drab conference rooms, uncomfortable lanyards, and hotel rooms with charming views of the airport parking lot. The emphasis on creating an engaging and worthwhile experience has often taken a backseat to convenience and necessity. However as a new decade begins to unfold, recent trends in event planning suggest a keen interest in making business meetings feel more in touch with modern lifestyles. 

According to the American Express 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, the “focus over the last few years on improving attendee experience and engagement has raised expectations that meeting planners will create immersive, memorable experience.” One popular option for corporations is to blur the lines between business and personal travel. Rather than treating a corporate retreat or conference as an event with a singular focus on business, “bleisure” – a portmanteau of the words “business” and “leisure” – melds aspects of the modern work-life balance to deliver a wholly unique experience. 

Compared to five years ago, 92% of event planners and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions (MICE) professionals find that events are more likely to be booked outside of the confines of a hotel conference room. Breakout sessions in well-trodden meeting rooms are being exchanged for morning poolside meetings, hikes, or fireside chats to enjoy the location’s ambience and learn more about the location’s culture. Hosting business events outside of traditional meeting places allows attendees to be more relaxed and comfortable with sharing their ideas, build team spirit and strengthen relationships with colleagues, and enjoy and learn from their travel time while avoiding the monotonous routine mandated by events of the past.

To adjust to the evolving shape of corporate gatherings, organizations and event planners must balance thinking “out-of-the-box” to pique attendees’ interest with accommodating the necessary logistics behind executing an event. For example, gathering for a conference in the mountains may seem like an incredible opportunity on paper, but a lack of local transportation options, lodging, safety precautions, and/or other crucial aspects behind a major event can lead to serious questions over the event’s cost and feasibility. The American Express 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast found that tight budgets and space issues have caused problems for planners tasked with keeping attendees engaged. Considering the report predicts meetings will last up to 2.9% longer with 3.1% more attendees, executing a logistically feasible event remains an industry imperative.

Around the world, several cities have emerged as popular gathering places for corporate events that manage the delicate balance of cost, logistics, and interest of attendees. The American Express 2020 Global Meetings and Events Forecast highlighted four of the most intriguing regions around the globe, including the top destinations within:

  • Asia Pacific: Greater meeting activity is anticipated throughout the Asia Pacific, with up to 4.8% increase in China and 3.1% increase in Australia. Throughout the region, a diverse mix of internal team meetings, product launches, conferences, and trade shows will split between mid-tier properties, luxury properties, and resorts. In particular, Singapore remains a top destination in Asia thanks to its well-developed meeting and events industry with Bangkok and Hong Kong rounding out Asia’s top three destinations for 2020. Average daily costs for China and Hong Kong range from US $713 to US $860 per attendee. In Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane are the region’s leading choices, with an average cost per attendee between US $472 and US $672 per day.
  • Central and South America: The most popular destinations for 2020 in the Caribbean and Latin America will be Nassau, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun. Mexico and Brazil are expected to be two of Latin America’s largest regional meeting places, with increases in activity of up to 3% for each country. Corporations are choosing regional destinations with strong infrastructure and well-established hotel brands, as well as unique locations such as Medellin, Colombia, to offer differentiated experiences. Product launches are among the most popular meeting options, each of which can top out at above US $800 per attendee. Concerns over political instability and safety often factor into meeting planning decisions throughout the region. Additionally, keep in mind that seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, which means summer is approximately November to February and winter stretches from June to August.
  • Europe: Meeting growth is expected to remain stable, with a modest increase of up to 1.8% since 2019 among product launches, incentives, and team meetings. Planners are focused on finding trendy, individually-designed meeting spaces for small groups, with a greater emphasis on boutique hotel brands, creative locations, and unique venues. Europe’s top meeting destinations for 2020 are London, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, and Amsterdam, with an average regional cost of US $745 per attendee.
  • North America: The United States and Canada are expected to remain consistently popular for internal team and training meetings, product launches, and incentives, anticipating a growth in activity of up to 2.5% across the continent. The top destinations for meetings and events in the United States are Orlando, Las Vegas, and Chicago, and the top Canadian destinations are Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Average prices per attendee range between US $506 and US $798 per day.
With the rise of “bleisure,” event attendees are becoming savvier and growing their expectations of novelty when it comes to attending business events. No matter the region, the right event location should offer the right mix of business opportunities and accessibility. However, while educational opportunities, networking events, and meeting spaces can be adapted to any locale, interesting venues should not overlook concerns over attendee safety, the overall event cost, or the overall purpose of the event. Organizations and event planners must find a balance to make events in 2020 as original and memorable as possible while keeping their corporate goals in mind to make the event truly successful.