Article: India's talent crunch: Why choose build approach over buying? DXC Technology's HR Head explains

Talent Acquisition

India's talent crunch: Why choose build approach over buying? DXC Technology's HR Head explains

Lokendra Sethi highlighted the pressing shortage of skilled technology talent in India, impacting various sectors and hindering organisational growth and competitiveness.
India's talent crunch: Why choose build approach over buying? DXC Technology's HR Head explains

India's tech industry has long been renowned for its pool of skilled professionals, contributing significantly to the country's economic growth and global competitiveness. However, as the demands of the digital age continue to evolve rapidly, the existing talent pool is facing increasing pressure to expand and adapt. The surge in demand for tech talent, fuelled by advancements in areas like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and cybersecurity, has created a noticeable crunch in the market. 

Companies across various sectors are grappling with the challenge of finding qualified professionals to fill critical roles and drive innovation. While India undeniably possesses a wealth of tech talent, the scale of demand necessitates a substantial expansion of the talent pool. This expansion encompasses not only increasing the number of skilled professionals entering the workforce but also ensuring that they possess the diverse skill sets required to meet the evolving needs of the industry. 

Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on upskilling and reskilling existing talent to bridge the gap between demand and supply. Initiatives aimed at fostering collaboration between industry, academia, and government play a crucial role in addressing the talent crunch by aligning educational curricula with industry requirements and facilitating knowledge exchange and skill development programs. In navigating India's talent crunch, a concerted effort is required from all stakeholders to nurture and leverage the country's immense potential for tech innovation and excellence.

To delve deeper into the intricate dynamics of India's talent crunch, we reached out to Lokendra Sethi, Vice President HR and India HR Head at DXC Technology. Our conversation with Mr. Sethi covered a wide range of topics, from talent acquisition strategies to the pivotal roles played by various stakeholders in addressing the prevailing talent shortage in the nation.

Excerpts from the interview: 

Can you provide an overview of India's current tech talent landscape, and the demand IT companies are experiencing?

In the current tech talent landscape of India, the scenario is dynamic and evolving, marked by a significant shift towards internal talent nurturing and ground-up development. With an extensive pool of engineers and skilled professionals, India stands out as a prime talent hub, emerging as the preferred choice for global technology companies.

In response to the burgeoning demand, IT companies are seeking expertise in areas such as AI, Cloud Computing, Data and Analytics, and Cybersecurity. Automation is gaining prominence at enterprise levels, streamlining repetitive tasks, and reducing operational risk.

Can you identify the key technical skills that are currently in high demand among IT companies and why?

In today's dynamic IT landscape, the demand for specific technical skills is surging, primarily driven by the relentless pace of technological advancement. One pivotal area is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI & ML), which stands at the forefront of innovation. AI and ML's transformative potential is evident as they facilitate efficient data analysis, predictive modeling, and automation. With expectations of high growth in the next few years, the demand for specialists in these domains is exceptionally high.

Cloud computing has also become indispensable, especially with the paradigm shift towards remote work and digital services. Proficiency in cloud computing encompasses a broad spectrum, from understanding diverse operating systems like Windows, Linux, or Mac to cloud administration, applications, and network maintenance.

As cyber threats evolve, the need for cybersecurity professionals intensifies. Individuals well-versed in physical, network, and software security, adept at installing firewalls and routers, employing data encryption, formulating risk mitigation strategies, conducting threat analysis, and navigating compliance regulations are highly sought after. The critical role of cybersecurity in safeguarding digital assets underscores the perpetual demand for skilled experts.

Data analysis is another critical skill in high demand. It is vital for deciphering complex datasets and identifying security threats or operational inefficiencies. In a data-driven era, professionals who can harness the power of data contribute significantly to organizational success.

DevOps – requires a consolidation of software development and IT operations that enhances collaboration and efficiency. The ability to seamlessly integrate these functions is pivotal for streamlining processes and meeting the demands of a fast-paced development environment.

These technical skills are in high demand due to their transformative potential. They drive business growth, improve operational efficiency, and play a crucial role in fortifying organizations against evolving cybersecurity threats. Mastering these skills positions IT professionals as invaluable assets in navigating the ever-evolving IT industry landscape.

How can collaboration between industry and academia be enhanced to ensure a more seamless transition for graduates into the workforce?

Strengthening collaboration between industry and academia is crucial for facilitating a seamless transition of graduates into the workforce. Think of this collaboration as a bridge that connects the worlds of learning and doing, creating a synergy that benefits both sides.

Firstly, fostering industry-academia partnerships can be transformative. Imagine companies sponsoring research projects or establishing innovation labs within universities. This not only provides students with invaluable real-world exposure but also allows companies to tap into the fresh and creative minds emerging from academia. Internships and co-op programs further contribute by offering students hands-on experience and providing insights into their future workplaces while still in the academic phase.

Additionally, the design of the curriculum plays a pivotal role. When industry professionals actively shape the curriculum, it ensures that the skills being taught align closely with market needs. This approach is akin to tailoring the academic program to fit the demands of the industry.

Lastly, mentorship programs, where industry professionals guide students, can be immensely beneficial. These programs create a direct line of communication, allowing experienced professionals to share insights and expertise, ultimately helping students navigate their transition into the workforce.

What trends do you anticipate in the growth and application of AI technologies, and how should professionals prepare for these changes?

I believe 2024 is poised to be acknowledged as the year AI achieves widespread acceptance. In the ongoing discussions about today's most sought-after technologies, AI takes the forefront, emerging as the predominant buzzword across diverse industries, transcending the traditional boundaries of the IT sector. I often draw a parallel between AI and the indispensable role of salt in culinary pursuits – a crucial element essential for enhancing flavor and unlocking the potential of each ingredient. Similarly, AI maximises efficiency in every context, mirroring how salt brings out the best in culinary creations.

Technology undergoes perpetual evolution, with nothing remaining stagnant. AI is no exception to this phenomenon; its application is poised to evolve, ushering in innovative trends in the coming years. Below are the trends I foresee in the growth and application of AI technologies in businesses, some of which we are already acquainted with but are expected to gain more prominence in 2024.

Enhanced Content Creation: In the evolving landscape of content creation, companies are progressively harnessing AI's potential. The future holds the promise of even more precise and elevated content generation driven by continuous advancements in AI. As the trajectory of AI technologies unfolds, we can envisage a spectrum of enhancements in content creation characterized by heightened personalization, refined language understanding, and various other innovative dimensions.

AI-Powered CRM/Intelligent CRM: AI is reshaping the landscape of customer relationship management (CRM) systems. By infusing AI into these platforms, a conventional CRM system undergoes a metamorphosis, becoming a self-updating, auto-correcting entity that autonomously manages relationship dynamics. I anticipate an increasing trend among businesses to incorporate AI into their CRM systems, elevating their robustness and sophistication.

Digital Personal Assistants: As the HR head, leveraging AI to revolutionize internal operations is a favorite aspect of my role. While AI bots are not groundbreaking, we are witnessing a gradual adoption of these bots for internal processes. In DXC India, our in-house virtual assistant tool, Violet, specifically addresses HR-related queries. These AI bots have the potential to serve as personal assistants, efficiently managing emails and calendars while providing valuable recommendations for process optimisation.

With that being said, in the era of AI's rapid ascent, a crucial perspective to grasp is the collaboration between humans and AI—underscoring the phrase that AI or any technology is complementary, not a replacement. Consequently, professionals need to equip themselves for intensified collaboration with AI systems. This entails honing skills to work alongside AI tools, comprehending their limitations, and utilizing their capabilities to augment overall productivity. Given the dynamic landscape of the AI field, professionals should embrace a mindset of continuous learning. Remaining abreast of emerging technologies, engaging in online courses, and acquiring pertinent certifications will prove indispensable for career advancement.

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Looking ahead, how do you anticipate the demand for tech talent evolving, and what steps can be taken to meet this demand?

As we stand on the brink of positioning India as a global tech powerhouse, the surge in demand for proficient technology talent has become increasingly evident, creating a disparity between this demand and the available workforce. This shortage spans all IT sector facets, from computing infrastructure to security, impacting business growth and the competitive edge of organisations. 

The primary challenge is the need for more workers equipped with digital skill sets. Despite the high demand for these skills, the current workforce needs to gain the requisite abilities, especially considering the constant evolution of technology. The lack of niche skill sets essential for working with advanced technologies like AI, blockchain, cloud, and data science further contributes to this gap.

The turning point, however, is now within reach as businesses and professionals recognise the crucial need for upskilling and reskilling. At DXC India, we have embraced a strategy that prioritises internal talent development, favouring the 'build' approach over the 'buy' strategy. By upskilling our existing workforce with relevant, in-demand skills, we address our talent needs and foster individual career growth. This method is particularly effective as experienced employees can swiftly acquire new skills and undergo cross-training. This agility is an asset in navigating the rapidly evolving business landscape, benefiting employees and customers. Identifying the specific talent required and subsequently building that talent pool forms the crux of this strategy. 

Additionally, collaborating with educational institutions is another critical avenue to meet the evolving demand for tech talent. Establishing partnerships with educational entities ensures academic curricula align seamlessly with industry requirements. This collaboration extends to internships, workshops, and joint research projects, offering college students valuable insights and preparation for the dynamic work environment post-graduation.

What role can government policies play in supporting the growth and sustainability of the tech talent ecosystem in India?

Empowering India's engineering talent is the bedrock of its digital progress. The substantial growth and evolution within India's tech talent pool highlight the need to cultivate a workforce capable of meeting present demands while strategically paving the way for future innovations.

Collaboration is the key, in my perspective. Bridging the industry-academia gap necessitates essential partnerships among educational institutes, industry players, and government entities. This collaborative effort ensures that the talent we nurture aligns seamlessly with industry needs, fostering a synergy between knowledge and practical application crucial for sustained industry success.

Government policies play a pivotal role in facilitating this imperative collaboration. They can encourage and facilitate greater collaboration by formulating initiatives that promote partnerships, joint ventures, and knowledge exchange programs. 

Any of the three key elements—educational institutes, industry, or government—can initiate and take charge, collectively contributing to improving India's tech talent ecosystem. Recognizing this, at DXC India, we prioritize skilling both within our organization and externally. As part of our CSR strategy, we collaborate with NGOs and not-for-profit foundations to upskill underprivileged sections of society. Through these partnerships, we embark on initiatives designed to uplift the disadvantaged segments of society, providing them with valuable skills in new-age technologies such as AI, Data Science, Internet of Things, UI-UX design, and Cybersecurity—domains currently witnessing heightened demand.

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Topics: Talent Acquisition, Recruitment, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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