IT talent

5 steps to unclog the IT talent supply bottleneck

With IT employment exploding from 5 million to 10 million, the skills supplied to our learners must evolve to meet the talent demanded by the employers in the sector

 highly productive sector that accounts for 8% of our GDP with 0.8% of our workforce is set to double its employment within the next decade sounds too good to be true but that is exactly what is predicted by us. But with this increase in employment there comes the challenge of finding the appropriately skilled talent that the sector will need to procure. Especially with the increasing importance of tech in other sectors as well who will be competing to get the best talent within the sector.  Currently 60% of IT employers say that they are facing problems in adapting to new technologies because of skill gaps in the local labour market.

More than two million jobs in AI, cyber security and blockchain are expected to be unfilled by 2023. In addition, the excessive digitalisation and transformation into automated and AI across industries has resulted in a problematic scaling of talent that cannot progress into these in-demand roles as they do not possess new and emerging technological skills. Companies are increasingly desperate for a skilled workforce. As they continue to struggle to find the skills they are looking for, their competitiveness and growth prospects are put at risk. At the same time, an enormous and growing chunk of unemployed and underemployed remain effectively hidden from most companies due to the skill gap. Now It’s high time for our education system to fill this gap and provide the tech sector with the ammo they need. We put forward 5 ways our education institutes can rise up to the challenge of supplying a talented workforce to meet the sector’s demand.

Reskilling/Upskilling and Lifelong Learning

In 2020, there were 900mn people (67% of the total population) in the working age group of 15-64 in India, which is expected to expand by another 100mn by 2030. India is experiencing rising literacy rates but the level of vocational training/skilling is low. Closing the skill gaps of its qualified workforce is very critical. With the World Economic Forum estimating that 50% of the workforce will need to reskill themselves which will be upwards of 3 million for the IT sector in the next 5 years our education institutions need to learn the value of unlearning and relearning to offer more courses targeted at employers looking to reskill and upskill their employees while on the job. Our Educational Institutions will need to adapt to cater to the needs of lifelong learning of these individuals.

Offer relevant courses

Historically, education has been the shortest bridge between the haves and have-nots, driving progress and prosperity for both individuals and economies, but the current education system is showing its age. Industries looking for the skilled workforce, education system is losing its relevance in an era of innovation, disruption and constant change, where adaptability and learning agility are most needed. To cater to criterias like job readiness, ability to compete for right jbs and creating long-term economic value, our education system must offer relevant courses with updated/upgraded curriculum according to the sector demands.  

Timeless skills

In WEF’s Future of Work 2020 the top 5 skills demanded by IT employers in India are Analytical thinking, Innovation, Complex problem-solving, Active learning and Resilience. This shows that employers place a very high value on employees having these skills which are not technical in nature but can be taught with the right kind of learning set up. Our HEI’s need to rise up and build up the infrastructure to inculcate these skills in our learners to aid them in their employability quotient. 

New Age Skills

The top 3 emerging job roles in the Indian IT space are AI and Machine Learning Specialists, Data Analysts and Scientists, Big Data Specialists. This points to the fact that there is a huge emergence of new technologies which would require different technical skills than were required in the past. Our Educational Institutions need to be able to build capabilities to cater to these emerging technologies and create programmes for skills such as Data Analytics, AI/ML, Blockchain and many others like them. Along with these skills which will help robotics and automation, there is a rising need for people who can analyse the output given by new technology and need to dive deep into the subjective side of data analytics and learn how to actually put these technologies to use in real life situations.

Learning while Earning

This is a specially important point for the development of freshers. Educational Institutes and Corporates need to come together and have a framework that promotes learning while earning for people pursuing their studies. This should be made available in the way of degree apprenticeships and other similar programmes which would increase the productivity of new freshers coming into the workforce as well as making the learning process more affordable for them. Our country with only 0.12% apprenticeships is lagging behind when compared to other countries like Germany (2.96%), Switzerland (4.3%), Denmark (3.57%) and many more. If we even want to bring our number up to 1% then we will need to add more than 4 million apprenticeship opportunities across the workforce which should make it a focus area for our Corporates.

If we don’t take cognizance of the fact and work towards plugging the holes of this supply issue towards these jobs that would be available, there would be repercussions for the sector as well as the whole economy and we would miss out on harnessing the potential of a highly productive IT sector in our country. In essence we need to move from supplying data entry clerks to more productive roles like data analysts to our IT sector for it to continue being the star of growth in our country.

The article has been written by Sunil Chemmankotil and Jayashri S. Patil. The writers are with Teamlease Services

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