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The digital skill gap that may trip the IT juggernaut in days to come

NITI Aayog recommendations cite the need for greater industry-academia collaboration to meet skill demand

Romita Majumdar  |  Mumbai 

IT firms

Even though Indian IT firms are eyeing to be specialists in digital technologies catering to global corporates, there is going to be a huge shortage of skills in emerging technologies such as analytics, big data, cloud, (AI) and automation in days to come. This is expected to create a huge bottleneck on their path of getting access to right talent.

The National Strategy for AI released this week noted that India will face a demand-supply gap of 200,000 data professionals by 2020. Further, Gartner reported that by 2020, 60 per cent of Indian looking to advance their data and maturity will cite non-availability of talent in these areas as the single biggest inhibitor of adoption and growth.

The report also noted that within the IT and Business Process Management (BPM) sector, there will be huge opportunities in areas of data annotation, speech transcription and image classification among others. But HR and technology analysts are of the view that the approach to talent development needs to change drastically to provide jobs for the upcoming technology change.

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“Often criticized for being overly knowledge-intensive, Indian education is in urgent need of transition particularly in subjects relevant to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math), or computer-based education. As technology-based jobs become prominent, so will the need to develop applied skills,” noted the report. The report also recommended a need for higher industry-academia collaboration to promote learning.

A FICCI-& EY report noted that by 2022, 9 per cent of the country’s 600 million estimated workforce would be deployed in new jobs that do not even exist today, while 37 per cent would be in jobs that have radically changed skill sets. Top IT like TCS, Infosys, and have extensive training programmes for freshers to ensure that they learn the basic skills but there has also been a constant demand from the majors for more employable and skill-ready graduates.

“Many multinationals, apart from Indian IT giants themselves, have established alliances with academic institutions on specific initiatives covering faculty upgradation, internships, curriculum revision workshops, research incubation, etc. aggregating the architects of the new global economy,” said Alka Dhingra, General Manager-Recruitment at TeamLease Services.

Dhingra notes that institutes will do well to introduce subjects like User Experience & Design (UI/UX), Augmented & (AR/VR), Mobile Application Development, AI, ML & Robotics, Data Science & Analytics, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security which will be widely used across all sectors.

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It should be noted that most of the top IT recruiters have greatly reduced their hiring numbers in the past year while also re-skilling their existing workforce to a larger extent. Not only are the moving away from legacy systems to the emerging technologies but they are honing their skillsets in-house due to the lack of relevant talent outside. TCS alone has imparted 861,000 digital competencies to its workforce till date.

Spencer Stuart HR consultant CK Guruprasad notes that today the digitally skilled freshers have more opportunities to choose from, so they also need to create a stronger value proposition for themselves. “When the IT boom happened, it wasn’t because the education system was suddenly providing IT skills but because people recognised the opportunities and acquired the relevant skillsets as the education system itself has a very long change cycle,” said Guruprasad.

First Published: Sat, June 09 2018. 21:42 IST