Visweswara Rao, SVP & Chief HR Officer at CSS Corp decodes the ICT skills landscape in an interview to Dataquest. Excerpts:
Q. If you look at the ICT skills landscape, what according to you are the two challenges the industry is facing now?
According to IDC Research, the advent of emerging technologies including AI, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and AR will enable the next wave of growth in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, widening the overall market opportunity to $5.5 trillion by 2020.
However, the shortage of skilled workforce is emerging as a major challenge to growth and future in the ICT sector, especially in India. Emerging technologies are prompting businesses to reimagine their business models and engagement journeys. They are enabling organizations to achieve business outcomes much faster and nimbler. Hence, the demand for completely new sets of skills is unprecedented.
ICT industry is evolving at an exponential pace. In this context, it is extremely important for technology leaders to focus on fostering a learning culture that would enable employees to build skills on new age technologies that are contextual to ICT. The two big skills and people related challenges the ICT industry is facing now is (a) lack of expertise in digital technologies and (b) lack of contextual application of digital while solving business problems.
One of the approaches to tackle this problem is to encourage and promote partnerships between the industry and academia. Many companies in ICT industry are collaborating with universities, academia, and local governments to bridge these gaps and boost the innovation quotient in new tech areas.
Organizations need to adopt a systematic approach towards assessing employee skills on an ongoing basis in emerging areas, identify gaps and align them with relevant learning modules. This would ensure skill-level gaps are addressed regularly and also ensures employees are future ready.
Organizations should also adopt unconventional hiring methods like hackathons and break the code models to attract niche skillsets from the market.
Niche skills like AI and analytics are required for all engineering and technical students, as they are the foundational levers of all digital engagements, and this is possible only if universities are constantly updating their curriculums to keep up with the pace of technology changes. For e.g. skills like AI and data analytics are sector-agnostic and have been delivering transformational benefits to companies across all industries.
Q. The Digital disruption coupled with automation has completely changed the nature of tech skills required for today’s ICT jobs – as an organization how are you coping with sourcing the right skills?
Staying competitive in services business requires continuously improving skill sets and competencies. To augment our efforts towards enhancing our technology competency, we launched ‘Reimagine’, a digital career progression framework to reorient our service lines and re-align the growth of our employees to meet the growing business needs.
Our “Reimagine” Digital Career Progression Framework has been specifically built to fast-track employee reskilling initiatives within the organization. In 2017, we won the NASSCOM Award for having one of the best digital reskilling platforms in the Indian IT industry. The framework facilitates an innovative approach to employee up-skilling and cross-skilling in digital technologies. So far we have seen 9000+ course enrollments in the last 12 months.
The Reimagine framework promotes a multi-disciplinary approach towards acquiring new domain and technology skill sets. The framework includes structured learning paths around AI, automation, data science, machine learning and other topics in a logical progression. The Reimagine framework equips employees with an analytical and problem-solving mindset of curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking.
Some of the key aspects of CSS Corp’s Reimagine Framework are:
- Digital Re-profiling: Enabling employee at all levels of the pyramid – Digital awareness, digital basics, digital intermediary & digital advanced
- Democratization of Innovation: Labs with access to emerging technologies like AI, analytics, cloud, DevOps, IoT, and mobile
- Incubation Hub: Prototyping and designing customer engagement platforms/solutions e.g. CSS Corp’s AI Platform- Yodaa
- Hyper-Personalization of Learning Modules: Anytime, anywhere and any device learning through Virtual University, MOOCs, and JAM
Additionally, CSS Corp also has an ongoing partnership with BITS Pilani on a program called ‘Earn As You Learn’ – a specialized M. Tech work integrated learning program. A program that helps CSS Corp employees to acquire knowledge and skills required for excelling in their careers with the added advantage of gaining a top-notch M.Tech. Degree in software engineering from one of India’s most prestigious universities.