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Archana Jayaraj

Interview: Archana Jayaraj, Director, Partnerships & Talent, APAC, Wiley Edge

September 12, 2023

Despite the global economy steadily picking up pace following the pandemic, recently released industry reports have highlighted the widening skills gaps and unprecedented levels of talent shortage crippling the corporate sector.

In light of this crisis, EducationWorld interviewed Archana Jayaraj, director, partnerships & talent, APAC and head of operations for Wiley Edge in India.

Excerpts: 

Q1. In what ways does Wiley Edge play a role in shaping India’s talent?

As the job market continues to evolve following the pandemic and the resulting economic impact, companies are struggling to find skilled workers. According to an industry report, an overwhelming majority of organisations (81 percent) are experiencing a shortage in skilled labour and 28 percent believe they will need to upskill tech skills for a third of their talent base by 2025. This indicates a progressive transition to adopting a skills-first approach towards talent and hiring.

Wiley’s talent development solution, Wiley Edge, helps corporations close widening skills gaps and talent shortages. We provide employers with a distinct edge in utilising emerging talent by harnessing a hire-train-deploy model. We partner with universities to source potential talent, equip them with in-demand skill sets to meet the highly specific needs of individual corporations, and deploy them to Fortune 500 Companies. After spending 4-12 weeks at the Wiley Edge Academy, graduates are deployed to one of Wiley’s corporate clients for up to 24 months, after which they transition into full-time roles with the hard, soft, and company-specific skills needed to succeed. We also help corporations unlock the potential within their existing workforces through upskilling and reskilling programs that create the skilled talent they need while enhancing employee retention and recruitment efforts.

Q2. Can you share more about the Graduate Training Programme offered by Wiley Edge?

At Wiley Edge, we are cognizant of the challenges faced by employers and emerging talent across the globe. Today’s fast-paced digital economy requires skilled personnel with the right combination of soft and hard skills who can contribute to the long-term growth of an organisation. By leveraging the power of education and assisting in the matching of exceptional people with exceptional 21st-century careers, Wiley Edge aims to provide a significant advantage to graduates looking for meaningful career opportunities.

Wiley Edge’s Hire-Train-Deploy programme recruits university graduates who then are trained by the Wiley Edge Academy in various career pathways such as banking, technology, cybersecurity, and data analytics. Following their training, these graduates are placed at multinational corporate clients, where they contribute their skills and insights for up to 24 months.

Our recruitment process is rigorous and involves multiple stages of screening, so much so that only one out of every 200 applicants makes the cut. Our client list includes the world’s most respected corporations in banking, healthcare, aviation, and insurance. We have now launched over 4,000 careers at a global scale. We place an emphasis on holistic personal and professional development of graduates via our learning, skilling, mentoring, support, and rewards programme.

Q3. How do you create a diverse talent pool at Wiley Edge? What all aspects of diversity do you cater to, especially in India?

Diversity is part of Wiley Edge’s foundational ethos, shaping every aspect of our strategy and approach, from global talent outreach to training. We actively dismantle barriers that hinder qualified individuals from careers in tech and business services, which is exemplified by our diverse Alumni program. Globally, 42 percent of our alumni are female and 51 percent are Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic, fostering true inclusion beyond statistics.

In India, we target underprivileged talent from tier 2 and tier 3 regions, offering them transformative career opportunities. We empower women to thrive in tech careers, bridging gender gaps. Our commitment extends to differently abled individuals as well through comprehensive hiring and reskill training. Our Alumni in the country consist of graduates who are 43 percent female, 24 percent first generation, 28 percent socio-economically challenged and 20 percent from rural belts.

Wiley Edge’s focus on potential, not prestige, is evident as we recruit talent from 400+ global universities. Our Graduate Training programne intentionally seeks diversity among candidates in gender, geography, education, and socioeconomic status. Globally and in India, we champion opportunity democratisation, as mirrored by our diversity statistics.

Q4. What has led to the current significance of developing a proficient workforce in India?

With a workforce of 500 million people and a population of over one billion, India has undergone a tremendous change in terms of rapid economic growth, significant urbanisation, and considerable domestic and foreign investments, all of which has led to an increase in demand for skilled labour. Our demographic dividend is another bright spot for us.

The advent of cutting-edge innovations such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the internet of things has expedited the integration of technology across various industries. Consequently, businesses are now in search of individuals proficient in digital skills, capable of meeting their evolving demands. Recent reports by McKinsey and NASSCOM also underscore the critical importance of upskilling and reskilling. The imperative to cultivate a skilled workforce has become increasingly pressing for enterprises, as it directly influences their capacity to adapt, drive innovation and maintain competitiveness within today’s digital economy.

Q5. What are your predictions for the progression of the skilling sector between 2023 and 2024?

The skilling sector from 2023 to 2024 is likely to see a rise in micro-credentials and online learning due to flexibility and affordability. Soft skills will remain important alongside technical expertise. Lifelong learning will adapt to workplace changes. Automation, AI, cloud computing, and cybersecurity may continue shaping the workforce. The sector is expected to attract more investments.

Also read: G20 commits to inclusive, equitable, high-quality education and skills training for all

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