Information technology (IT) companies
are gearing up to reskill their personnel, to help them stay relevant with automation.
Software service providers are seeing a shift in demand from infrastructure development and legacy services to Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data analytics, machine learning and cloud-based delivery models. Tata Consultancy Services, the country’s largest software exporter, has spoken about skilling 100,000 people in digital technology. Infosys
has created a Design Thinking platform to both reskill people and drive innovation. “During the first three quarters of FY17, Wipro
has upskilled more than 30,000 employees on digital technologies such as BigData, Advanced Analytics, Cloud, Mobility and Usability, Digital Security and DevOps. In fact, our employee perception survey showed an improvement of 12.5 per cent in terms of overall satisfaction, with a significant criteria being employees’ perception of sufficient opportunities to learn and grow in Wipro,” said Saurabh Govil, chief human resources officer.
has also enhanced its digital technology workforce through acquisitions like Designit and Appirio.
Sectoral body Nasscom has created a learning centre with the Indian Institute of Management at Bengaluru to support small and mid-size entities’ training on emerging technologies.
“Clearly, reskilling is becoming increasingly important. Every company is doing it at multiple levels and our attempt is to aggregate that; companies
can build on top of that. We will also reach out to tier-II and tier-III companies
who might not be able to do everything on their own,” said Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president at Nasscom.
Capgemini’s India chief, Srinivas Kandula, said at a Nasscom event last month that jobs of a large chunk of mid-level engineers at IT firms
would be at risk due to automation. Wipro’s Govil believes IT is no longer only associated with “creating efficiencies” but is now “driving tangible business value”. The company says it has has created ‘technology academies’ on each of these skills needed in the coming days, to extend training through virtual projects. One of these is a cloud-based platform, Open Connect, to enable employees to work on virtual projects. The company has agreements with certain universities for courses on emerging technologies like data sciences. It also conducts ‘hackathons’ for peer-to-peer learning.
For business process management services companies, ‘soft’ skills and domain knowledge are as important as skills in emerging technologies.
“As clients keep moving up the value chain, people who come into the industry
will need to be qualified, need to have good understanding of the domain — be it banking or travel. Today, they communicate directly with decision makers. Therefore, all of us are focusing on skilling to make sure the talent we have is relevant for long time,” said Keshav Murugesh, chief executive officer at WNS.
One concern is that as companies
seek people with digital technology skills, courses offered by engineering colleges are not enough to meet the changing demand.
Reskilling is a big catch-up game, says Shekhar Sanyal, country head, Institution of Engineering and Technology. "Universities will have some kind of courses on emerging technologies. Whether they will actually deliver in terms of what industry
wants is a big question. The challenge with AI or new technologies is that you need the real practitioners to impart that knowledge. However, university professors do not work closely with practitioners at companies
or vice versa.”
redeploy employees on various new technology works, campus hiring will drop. Infosys
said it hired 5,500 people in the first nine months of this financial year, as against 17,500 people in the year-ago period. It is expected to reduce campus hiring this year.
“There has been a fall in IT recruitment…The reason for this is a combination of external events, starting from Brexit and the US presidential election, coupled with massive technological shifts in the industry, with lower jobs getting automated,” said Sriram S Padmanabhan, director, Career Center, SRM University, Chennai.
SRM says it is working with IT companies
to train students in new technologies. “The shift in trend is still in progress. To assess the impact will take time. We are working with a few major companies
in terms of co-curriculum, identifying the cutting-edge areas and nominating faculty members to work with them to develop training. We are working with at least three major companies,” added Padmanabhan.