The dire skill shortage in emerging IT domains could seriously hamper India’s ambitions to be a technology superpower.
- India faces a
supply shortageof around 97,000 professionals in analytics and data-based decision making.
- Talent shortage is a stark reality confronting the Indian IT/ITeS sector in general, which faced a demand gap of 140,000 skilled professionals in 2018.
- This problem will only increase in future, as job roles get dominated by new technologies like AI, big data analytics and cloud computing, automation and blockchain.
- There is an urgent need of re-skilling for the Indian workforce to meet this challenge.
On one end, we keep debating endlessly in India about a jobs crisis and are worried about employing 10-12 million Indians who join the workforce every year.
But there is another side of the story. In some of the critical futuristic industries where job opportunities are available in plenty, India faces a
dire shortage of talent.
A case in point is analytics and data-based decision making, which led to a 45% rise in the number of vacancies year-on-year. Online ed-tech company Great Learning has released a report, which reveals that nearly 97,000 positions in analytics and data science in India are currently
lying vacant due to a shortage of qualified talent.
Great Learning co-founder Hari Krishnan Nair commented on the talent shortage:
“A 45% increase in the supply gap in just one year indicates the pace at which businesses are adopting analytics and data-based decision making. In the last few years, many large players have been forced to acqui-hire talent to keep the wind in their sails.”
A majority of the roles are for junior level candidates having an experience of less than five years. Furthermore, opportunities for freshers have increased their share to 21% of analytics jobs (17% last year) and around 31% of openings are for employees with experience over five years.
Where are the people?
Talent shortage is a larger challenge facing the entire IT sector in India as the world is on the cusp of a technology revolution. Demand for disruptive technologies like AI and data analytics is growing at a strong pace.
Nasscom data estimates that the IT-BPM industry suffered from a shortage of 140,000 skilled IT professionals for 500,000 jobs across verticals in 2018. This is expected to balloon to 230,000 by 2021, as jobs in AI and big data reach 780,000 by that year. The Indian IT-ITeS sector is spending around Rs 10,000 crore for re-skilling and human resource development. Amit Aggarwal, Chief Executive, IT-ITeS Sector Skills Council, Nasscom, affirms:
“There is an urgent need to re-skill about 50% of India’s IT workforce, as demand for it in new technologies
The World Economic Forum report titled ‘The Future of Jobs 2018‘, estimates that around 54% of the global workforce will have to be re-skilled or up-skilled to prevail in the midst of disruptive and digital technologies across the virtual world. Jobs of the future will be dominated by AI, big data analytics and cloud computing, automation, blockchain, etc which is bad news for the traditional job profiles.
Source: Nasscom, DKODING Intelligence
How to ‘STEM’ the rot
It is important to ascertain the specific job roles that will proliferate in the coming years and adequately prepare the Indian IT workforce for these profiles. Nasscom’s ‘Future Skills’ digital platform inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi last year identified 10 such technologies for the IT and IT-enabled services sectors:
AI, cyber security, IoT, virtual reality, robotic process automation, big data analytics, blockchain, three-dimension (3-D) printing, cloud computing and social and mobile.
Around 70 job roles have been identified across these technologies which will need IT executives to have around 150 diverse skills.
The government has announced an allocation of US$ 13.15 billion for education in the interim budget for 2019-20. A part of this budget is expected to go into AI training in schools. CBSE has included AI as an optional subject in classes 8, 9 and 10.
The IITs are launching bachelor’s degree and certificate courses in AI to help meet the talent gap. But perhaps the greatest role will be played by the booming edtech industry in India, especially when it comes to upskilling.
Besides the efforts undertaken by the government and leading institutes, there is a strong case for industry-academia engagement to tackle the skill shortage. One instance of this is the upcoming STEM university in Mohali named Plaksha, an initiative by 40 entrepreneurs. With a planned investment of Rs 2,000 crore, the university aims to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and quality research.
While Indian students generally, have a strong theoretical base in Maths and Science in schools, there is a need to inculcate innovative thinking, a strong desire for knowledge and an inclination towards hands-on learning. Moreover, the curriculum in engineering colleges is not adequate for careers in data science and engineering.
Such careers require an intersection of maths, statistics and programming and less than 2% of so-called data scientists and data engineers actually have a PhD in AI-related technologies.
Unless the talent crunch issue is tackled at all levels – school, college and workplace – India risks losing the race to drive the future of technology globally.
- The lack of skilled professionals in emerging technologies like AI, analytics & cloud computing is a looming threat to the Indian IT/ITeS industry.
- A number of traditional job roles prevalent in the global IT industry today will not be in existence a few years from now.
- It is critical to proactively analyse the kind of job profiles that will hold relevance in the coming years and prepare India’s youth for them.
- Unless the issue is tackled at all levels, India could be left behind in the technology domains of the future.
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