Talent gap has to be addressed in a holistic manner

Updated: Apr 29 2007, 07:18am hrs
Laxmi Narayanan, vice-chairman of Cognizant Technology Solutions, was recently appointed as the chairman of Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) for 2007-08. With an experience spanning three decades, Narayanan takes charge at a time when the industry is witnessing good buoyancy and is defining newer benchmarks globally. In an interview with Smita Joshi of The Financial Express, Narayanan highlights Nasscom's plans and his concern to address issues like security and talent availability. Here are some excerpts:

What are the challenges before you as chairman of India's largest software and services body

There have always been challenges but what we are trying to do is to bring some focus to the challenges that we have at present. The key challenge is getting enough work force to the entire industry. The other two aspects that we have been talking about are security and innovation. We are trying to differentiate the industry and the country on these two challenges so that people come to India to do business because it is more secure. A couple of initiatives that are underway are self-regulatory organisations (SRO) for security, 'finishing schools' for building person-power and promotion of innovation in an aggressive manner.

Talent availability also needs to be addressed, so what specific steps is Nasscom taking to bridge the talent gap

The talent gap is to be looked upon in a holistic manner. Academic institutions need to play an important role here. The industry expects people to be industry-ready as soon as they graduate. However, there has to be a certain level of training that should be given to them. What Nasscom is doing is creating an eco-system between industry and academia by developing training schools. Nasscom has initiated the concept of 'finishing schools'--an ecosystem that takes graduates and readies them for the industry

How successful has the Nasscom Assessment of Competence (NAC) test been

NAC has been reasonably successful. Those candidates, who have appeared and have gotten jobs, find the testing parameters to be good. It still has to reach thousands of people all over the country. Another activity initiated by Nasscom is the National Skills Registry, which is a registry of BPO and IT employees and is a credible database available to employers for hiring people.

Whats the status of the Nationals Skills Registry right now

It is an independent entity and 40,000 individuals have registered so far and over a lakh have shown interest and want to be a part of it.

Are any of the training institutions in talks with Nasscom for a tie-up or accreditation

A tie-up with Nasscom will not help the training institutes; they need to tie-up with individual companies for their growth. There are hundreds of training institutes in the country and in 2007-08, they will all scale up. With the industry growing at 25%, the concern is if we do not do something now we will have to tackle problems from 2009 onwards. And, these problems will be talent related problems, infrastructure problems, bandwidth problems, and support problems among others.

What are the plans of Nasscom going forward

Talent development, security and innovation will be the primary focus of Nasscom. We are also focusing on expanding the Nasscom organisation, not in terms of numbers but in terms of bringing in industry leaders so that they can interact with the industry and the government more aggressively.