Skill vs scale: What really is the problem?
The news today is flooded with IT companies seeming to scale down with layoffs in the thousands! One can’t help but wonder, is this the end? Are machines going to take over humans? While these questions loom, some companies like Nasscom announce the hiring of 1.5 lakh people in the coming months. The IT industry hired 1.7 lakh professionals in 2016-17. A recent report in the Times of India claimed that IT companies are finding it difficult to find candidates to fill in vacant positions for software architects and data engineers. So what really is the issue? History is always on the roll, teaching us one lesson at a time, more clearly than others. A lot of big changes take place silently, in the beginning, and catch momentum till things reach a bursting point. A transformation that began some years after the IT industry boom, happened in the skilling space. It is already being called a revolution by some experts.
With the constant change in technology, the Indian IT industry is naturally going through a major transformation. It now embraces new technology like cloud computing, automation, newer ways of data management and analytics among some others.
There has always been a discussion and debate in the Indian IT industry on the availability of candidates with the right skills who can be readily employable. It has been noticed that the gap between the availability of this workforce and the demand for the skilled workforce is widening even though this trend was evident even from the nascent stage of IT in India. In the beginning days, the main reason for this demand-supply gap was the disconnect between academia and the industry. But today, there is yet another reason added to this already existing gap – the rapid change in technology!
With the background of a technological landscape that is rapidly reinventing, the need for specialized and very niche skills like cloud computing, data management, and app development are also being perfect catalysts. The IT industry in India that is valued at $160 billion is today undergoing a sharp shift in the way it goes about its business, this is mostly because clients are demanding different kinds of skill sets in comparison to the past. Formal skill training for Indians stands at a 10% low. And this is where the real problem of unemployability lies.
THE ONLY SOLUTION
A panel including top industry leaders from Cognizant, Mindtree, Wipro, Tech Mahindra etc pointed out that the root cause of all problems in the IT sector is in fact skilling. This shift all over the world has resulted in two options. Disruptor die! The disruption may be automation where machines are replacing men but the even bigger disruption is the changing technologies and the workforce needed to run them. And the second of the later has become more prominent.
Skills are seen as a new currency. Even if their life cycle is becoming shorter, the choice of re-skill still exists when you had started with specialized learning at some point. As such, the mantra today is up-skill!