IT, manufacturing layoffs: This may well be the solution to sackings in the sector

Published: September 4, 2017 12:09 AM

Increasing digitisation and use of Big Data and artificial intelligence is threatening jobs and challenging old business practices.

IT, manufacturing layoffs, IT sector, McKinseyIT and manufacturing industry, which were human-intensive, are now automating jobs.

Increasing digitisation and use of Big Data and artificial intelligence is threatening jobs and challenging old business practices. Companies operating in the manufacturing and IT space have sacked over 56,000 engineers in 2017 so far. Leading head-hunters forecast that job cuts are expected to grow by almost three times in the next three years, as the existing workforce is under-skilled. McKinsey, in a report, stated that nearly half of the IT services workforce will be “irrelevant” over the next three to four years.

The rising unemployment on account of workforce becoming redundant due to advent of new technologies and under-skilled manpower is a major concern for policy-makers and corporates. This, in fact, calls for intervention and the need for right training at educational institutions and reskilling at the workplace.

Our current education system is an academic-centric model that focuses more on theory than on practice. The outcome lacks industry readiness and restricts an individual’s all-round development. Employability skills have become a critical part of education’s outcome. Colleges need to provide application-based training to ensure teaching is more interactive which promotes creative thinking and leadership skills.

Innovative learning techniques

Teaching techniques across schools and colleges need a revamp, driven by practical assignments and project learning. Online learning tools help students grasp concepts easily. Graphical and visual representation of complex topics and concepts make learning easy. Teaching is now not limited to chalk and board. Teachers use power points and case studies to connect with students. This has to be incorporated in day-to-day learning.

Collaborate with industry

Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, at various forums, has emphasised the need for reskilling and overhauling the education sector as “a lot of jobs that exist today will not exist in the future.” He has stated that the education system has to respond to the challenge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by becoming innovative.
Last year, the World Economic Forum released a report titled Future of Jobs. It had an interesting take on the kind of jobs that will cease to exist primarily because of the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on industries. It noted that the net negative industries include ‘office and administrative’ sector where an estimated 4.8 million people are going to be adversely impacted between 2015 and 2020.

It’s important that state boards and policy-makers take industry inputs while drafting curriculum. Today, educational institutions, in a limited way, are trying to bridge this gap by inviting corporate leaders to guide students on industry best practices through workshops. Colleges also need to focus on having a robust placement cell that works with corporates round the year.

Skilling and reskilling

IT and manufacturing industry, which were human-intensive, are now automating jobs. In fact, Nasscom is drafting a digital skilling platform for IT professionals that were redundant on account automation. The body is also approaching colleges to train and retrain teachers so that they are in sync with changes in technology. Nasscom’s digital skilling platform has identified 55 new-age skills such as Big Data, cloud, cyber-security, new user interfaces, social media, data scientists and platform engineering that can be the driver for future job creation.

Agencies like NSDC and NSDA have to work towards reskilling the youth to keep them relevant to the needs of a changing industry. They also have to work closely with educational institutions, industry bodies and corporates to ensure our demographic advantage does not turn into a bane.

The government estimates an incremental requirement of 110 million additional skilled personnel across 24 sectors by 2022. The demand will be highest in real estate, transport, retail, and beauty and wellness sectors. But the agricultural sector will see a negative growth with 24.8 million people moving to other jobs. Considering the layoffs, how can we run our educational system on decades-old curriculum? Our educational institutions and policy-makers need to let go of their traditional outlook to capitalise on the demographic dividend.

Minu Madlani  is principal, KPB Hinduja College, Mumbai. Views are personal

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