The founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab said, “The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production.” What he meant was technology changes and those who fail to keep up, perish.

By Balaji Subramanian

There is no dearth of software engineers/developers in India. We produce twenty five percent of world’s engineers, but the question is, are they talented? Do they have the right skills to face new challenges of the future?

Motivational speaker ZigZiglar once said, “The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.” Denial is a very powerful human emotion that gives us peace of mind, albeit temporarily, but no one can outrun the fact and when we fall, there is no grace.

 The absence of requisite skill sets

Indian IT companies face an exponentially evolving technology that has left a large number of IT professionals/developers not having the necessary skills to adapt to change. No one can say there is a shortage of jobs in the IT sector but what can talent acquisition teams do, when the demand for new-age digital skills is high, but the requisite skill set is absent?

According to NASSCOM,nearly 40 percent of the country’s IT workspace needs to be re-skilled if they are to work in the artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of things (IoT), machine learning and blockchain domains. But we have few engineers who are capable to take on projects in the AI orIoT.

According to a 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF) report titled ‘The Future of Jobs 2018’ “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is interacting with other socio-economic and demographic factors to create a perfect storm of business model change in all industries, resulting in major disruptions to labor markets. New categories of jobs will emerge, partly or wholly displacing others. The skill sets required in both old and new occupations will change in most industries and transform how and where people work. It may also affect female and male workers differently and transform the dynamics of the industry gender gap”.

Though this analysis by WEF is very broad but it does apply to the IT sector and Human Resource managers in India have their task cutout because the best seem to leave for the Silicon Valley. It is an incubator for qualified IT professionals with the right skill setsand has the best platform for leaning and innovation.

Why this Existential Crisis in IT talent?

Our universities failed in addressing the changing industry requirements of skilled IT manpower needed for the future.We simply do not have curricula relevant to the Industry, talent skill requirements and we are not enabling our students.Unfortunately our IT graduates lack applicable skills and the companies that are into cutting edge technology want to make sure candidates actually have the skills required to do the job.

The curricula have become obsolete and student acumen is down to just grades and fundamentals. We are not addressing the growing and evolving industry while our focus on industry-led academic curriculum’s is almost nil. We are not creating thinkers and innovators but drones, and this will have serious consequences on our ability to build and nurture skills that are relevant and closer to the Industry’s needs.

However we seem to have a temporary solution to a long term problem. IT companies in India and across the globe are spending huge capital on re-skilling their employees,which is noble, but for how long is it feasible in the Indian context? Opportunity beckons,but alas we are not prepared.