The Indian Information Technology (IT) sector will need to up its present skill set quickly to cater to increasingly important technologies like cloud computing and artificial intelligence. A recent study has claimed that a talent crisis may not be far away, with the present skill set inadequate to cater to the shift in technology that is already underway.
A study by Emeritus Institute of Management (EIM), based in Singapore, was conducted with 350 C-suite level executives of IT/ITes, manufacturing and the Banking, Financial services and Insurance (BFSI) sector in India in the month of November 2016. The study found that about 85% of the IT companies look at ‘mismatch between skills required and the skills available’ as the second most critical challenge.
Over 50% of the IT organisations that participated in the survey, India Inc’s Middle Order Crisis, are of the view that innovation and critical thinking were the biggest areas wherein freshers and existing employees fell short, in the context of digital transformation. The same survey also revealed that execution and business acumen were relatively small challenges, when compared to innovation.
The study also listed some pre-emptive measures that must be taken to address the problem of talent shortage, which include a multi-level intervention. The education sector is suggested to review its curriculum and ensure access to higher education with focus on training. Furthermore, public-private partnerships have been recommended in higher education to provide better quality of education. Ashwin Damera, Executive Director, EIM, said, “The demand for emerging technology is changing faster than more engineers or managers are created for its delivery. It is no longer sufficient to know how to write C++.”
Although the present situation is just manageable, if efforts are not made to ensure that adequate numbers from the future lot of engineers are trained in swiftly expanding fields of artificial intelligence, cloud computing etc, it would impact the industry adversely.
Routine jobs like testing and bug fixing, will slowly give way to automation and cloud and digital implementation, and Indian organisations will face a tough task scouting the right talent and resources to rise up to the challenges posed by advent of new technologies.
As pointed out in this report, the challenge is compounded by the relative nascence in which these technologies exist, which effectively means the knowledge of the client will be minimal as well. In such a situation, another concern is the lack of skills to think, engage, and deliver products and services to customers. The present arrangement wherein technical teams rarely participate in the bigger value creation of the product, and deliver only what is asked of them is unlikely to sustain as the tech services industry begins to transform and shift its focus.
The study confirms the notion that even well-performing industries cannot afford to grow complacent, and need to continually work towards helping its employees adapt to changes in the global paradigm. Traditionally, the Indian IT sector has risen above many similar global challenges in the past, and is likely to do so in the future as well. But due caution must be given to warnings like these, and organisation, employers and HR personnel must identify these challenges and should be adequately prepared for them. Furthermore, with the present government’s aggressive thrust to adopt digital technology, education and training policies must also be revised periodically to keep up with such changes in the technological industry. Only a multi-dimensional approach to the challenge, that involves participation from all concerned stakeholders, can avert the talent crisis that has been warned of, in the study.