The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), along with business process outsourcing (BPO) entities, has planned to come out with a standardised framework for on getting and regularly upgrading the right type of personnel and delivery skills.
Nasscom and around 15 BPO companies that include IBM and Genpact have been working on this framework since June and are expected to announce a detailed format by the end of this month. This will cover areas such as background verification, common assessment capabilities, working with educational institutes and others.
“We are working on four to five broad areas. One, we want to understand the perception of the industry. What do people think when they join this industry for a career? Two, how do we create 50,000 skilled people available for the industry by 2013? Three, the industry will hire around 15 lakh people by 2020; do we have standards and processes in place to get the right talent? And, finally, access and evaluate some of the upcoming destinations for BPOs and see what we can learn from them (those other countries) to keep India as the most favoured BPO destination,” said K S Vishwanathan, vice-president, Nasscom.
|ACROSS THE SECTOR|
With close to 900,000 employees in the BPO sector, one of the significant parts of the framework will be to lay out certain minimum requirements each member-company and individual will have to follow. The initiative will also focus on giving more teeth to the National Skill Registry (NSR) started by Nasscom in 2006.
“The idea is to capture an individual’s phase from recruitment to background verification to the time they leave an organisation. Since we all hire from the same pool of talent, it makes sense for us to have a set of standards that are institutionalised by the industry and companies,” said Pari Sadasivan,VP and CEO, India IBM Global Process Services Delivery.
Hence, details of a candidate such as education history, background verification, and employment history will be made compulsory. In terms of documentation, the industry is thinking of having a passport as mandatory. This data will be shared with the NSR, so that companies can have a single repository of data to fall back on.
BPO exports for FY12 touched $16 billion. By 2020, the industry is expected to employ around 1.5 million people, from the present 900,000. Those in the sector feel as the industry is gradually attaining maturity and moves towards transaction-based work, the demand for security for client-sensitive data is increasing. Add to this the way global clients are gearing towards a more regulated environment and it has become important for the sector to attain a desired output. The IT/BPO industry overall had 2.8 million employees in FY2012.
The Indian IT and BPO industry was the first to start the talk about the need for background verification. The need was genuine, as Indian firms had started to handle sensitive data and there were some incidents of data leaks. And, while it has been dealing with fake resumes, with discrepancy in educational backgrounds, in the recent past other issues have also been coming up.
“Candidate substitution is another problem. A candidate is interviewed on the phone, they talk smartly and sound good but when they finally join, the person does not have the same language competency. This can be mitigated by use of technology that is integrated to the recruitment process,” added Sadasivan. Cases of students being duped by a third party for jobs have also become frequent.
A part of the initiative is to also strengthen the NSR system. Nasscom is trying to ensure companies would share background verification data with the NSR, so that the latter needn’t repeatedly conduct checks on a candidate. This will also reduce cost overheads for companies; background verification takes about two to three weeks to complete.
Adoption of NSR has been a tad slow. The system, set up in 2006-07, has about 1.14 million individuals’ details. And, around 800,000 have given their fingerprints and photographs, necessitated as it was found that 25-30 per cent of individuals were providing incorrect qualification data.
“We also need to address talent creation in India. The top five companies will always be able to hire the creamy layer of students from top colleges. But we need to keep re-skilling them. Also, we need to have a larger pool of talent, to remain competitive. Costs in India are going up by six to eight per cent (annually) due to inflation but in other countries, that’s not the case,” said Mohit Thukral, senior vice-president and head of global financial services, insurance and health care, Genpact.
The employability of candidates graduating from both engineering and non-engineering colleges has also been a huge concern for both IT and BPO companies. The majority of these companies now invest in basic training set-ups that last two to three months for these graduates.
“We are running a pilot with six states and working with the faculty in training them. Along with this, we will have a common curriculum and a common assessment mechanism for candidates,” said Vishwanathan.
At present the pilots are happening in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana and Kerala. Over time, Nasscom is to integrate the NAC-Tech test or the Nasscom Assessment for Competence in Technology test for students.