The IT industry in India according to NASSCOM aggregated revenues of US$147 billion in 2015 (export revenue stood at US$99 billion and domestic at US$48 billion, growing by over 13%). As Indian IT industry matures the focus is shifting towards technologies like mobile computing, cloud computing and software as a service due to preference of clients towards the ubiquitous computing over standalone computing and the growing demand for low cost computing solutions.
Indian IT industry has constantly spoken about the need for skill upgradation, not just of the people employed in the sector, but also to extend the benefits of technology to a wider population so as to make it more inclusive. The skill development not only encompasses the IT and ITeS industry, but also the hardware, electronics and semiconductor industry. Currently, there is a severe mismatch in terms of the skills required and their availability. There is consistent need to train more professionally skilled employees to meets industry needs. The Indian IT industry, which employs 3 million people directly and provides employment to another 9 million indirectly, has been one of the biggest job generators for the economy, absorbing fresh engineering graduates.
Here is where players like EXIN comes into picture. The company says that it fills the learning and skilling gap in ICT and strives to help businesses and individuals reach success by supporting lifelong learning. ICT competences are built up of knowledge, skills and attitudes. EXIN focuses on expanding the knowledge of ICT Professionals by applying its expertise in validating their competences. EXIN has worked with the European Union and international partners to develop the European Competence Framework ( e-CF ). This framework is already the basis for the e-Competence assessment that EXIN has developed.EXIN is also a leading institute for the certification of ITIL and PRINCE2. As of January 2014, in addition to these two products, EXIN also offers all other products of the ‘Best Management Practice’ portfolio worldwide. EXIN started as an initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of The Netherlands. In 1984, the ministry made the decision to introduce an examination for training in the ‘computerization and mechanization of management information processing’ (AMBI)
In an interview to DATAQUEST recently, Bernd Taselaar, CEO, EXIN and Robert Jan Willemsen, CCO, EXIN talks about the leading trends in skilling space in India and EXIN’s play. Excerpts.
On the importance of India
Bernd Taselaar (BT): Here in India we are seeing a demand for customer focused offerings, not only subcontracting agreement, but the outsourcing companies also want to take part in procurement themselves. That requires a different set of competencies and that is the leading trend we are seeing. We are also seeing big interest in areas like Lean IT, Scrum, Agile, DevOps among others.
BT: What is the kind of disconnect you see when you compare Europe with India. Can some of the best practices there can be replicated here?
BT:The IT industry is a global business. Companies can shop around the world and they are looking at the best places to be based. India is on the brink of moving up the value chain.
Robert Jan Willemsen (RJW): From demographic point of view India is very well placed and different than majority of the regions in the world. India has young work work force that is more IT savvy and really well placed to conquer the world and deliver these IT competences and services to customers around the world.
When did you start your operations in India?
BT: Our presence in India goes back more than a decade. This helps develop better offerings for our partners and at the same time also be closer to the Indian market.
What kind of engagement you foresee from e-competence framework? What kind of outlook you see for India? Do you see some larger mandates?
BT: When we are looking at IT, we are not only looking at IT certification. This is aimed at establishing minimum quality level. It is important to know whether people understand the fundamentals or basics. Competency development however is also very important because it brings into mind the experience the people have. It is the combination of having the IT technical skills, IT framework understanding and understand the fundamentals but it is also very important for future employers as well as for corporate organizations to understand what their real experience has been. At Exin, we are very committed to the e-competence framework which is a universal and open framework which does exactly that which describes e-competencies which can be used by corporate organizations, IT professionals around the world as a universal language for IT Competencies.
Historically, if you look at from HR point of view, there used to be CMM levels which can assess delivery capabilities, now with the organizations facing technology disruptions, many companies are talking about Agile etc. What is your opinion about current trends in HR?
BT: There is of course a demand for more agile professionals, so that people are able to reach faster on developers in the market and requirements of customers. If one wants to develop software in the more traditional way, it might be too late and there may be too many errors in the software. So, one needs to do things faster, better and even be more customer focused. That is the reason we focus on the competencies and it is not just knowledge but competencies. What is necessary is that you can compare competencies. It is not just the work force in India but if a company in Europe wants to compare its employees with their counterparts here, exchange professionals and using the same universal language, the e-competence framework offering such a language, it becomes much easier for companies to compare but also for HR to address this.
RJW: If i can add to that, from an IT professional perspective, it also increases the employability of an individual, be it a self employed individual or as a part of bigger corporation to be able to operate on a bigger global project and joint developments on a global level . IT infrastructure is not a hurdle and not necessarily need to be limited to Indian borders and can be a truly international development as well. That is where the real power of India is to really accommodate that type of development.
On the key focus areas of learning
BT: All workforce require good basics. On top of that basic education, there are many things that they can add in the learning process and that is essential. What you are going to see is that the world is going to face in the years to come. The last 20 years was the era of Information Technology, the next phase will be Digital smart, everything will get connected with everything. Data will become very important for everyone. Also to secure data, and make sure people have access to data is extremely important. This means privacy will be very important. Data, privacy, cloud, security require that a professional is aware of all these things even if they are just developing software. The skill set of a professional should also be versatile.
What do you think are the key challenges HR organizations of large services companies are facing. What do you think are the utmost challenges in terms of skill sets, business objectives and outcomes?
RJW: The one thing that we see and also get feedback from our big corporate customers is that it is a next phase for India. They not only require people to have a certificate but also know how to apply the knowledge they have been given and taught during their training. So the increase really is in the quality of the training providers, understanding the business of training providers in understanding the business of their customers, also an understanding of the IT employees to become truly professional and gain the know how to apply knowledge in a practical sense rather than just certification. Certification itself is not enough anymore. Also, increasingly corporate customers expect career learning and development path. This calls for a long terms commitment of serious development of their employees. But the IT professionals themselves are also looking at these. It is moving gradually away from ad hoc certification to a longer term career or development for the talent.
BT: In short, for HR, one of the big challenges here is to have right people with right competence on the right job. To solve that issue they have to have the insight in the workforce and if not HR is providing the most important things for a lot of companies, It is not technologies but people around technology who make the difference