There will be 2.5 lakh openings in the IT sector up for grabs this year but the irony of it all is that there aren’t enough engineers to man these jobs. The rapid evolution of technology has left a large number of techies not skilled enough to do the high-end work that companies want. Suresh Bethavandu, V-P and global head (talent acquisition) at Cognizant, confirms that while demand for new-age digital skills is high, supply is tight.
Nasscom estimates that nearly 40% of the country’s workspace needs to be reskilled if they are to work in the artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), machine learning and blockchain spaces. But worryingly, HR experts say very few engineers can be brought up the curve to take on the assignments in the AI, IoT and cybersecurity spaces.
As Zairus Master, CEO, Shine.com, pointed out, skills which were relevant and useful a decade ago are now obsolete.
Yeshab Giri, V-P, Randstad Technologies and Strategies, told FE that tech firms are in a fix because they cannot be seen retrenching in large numbers even if they want to. “They want to build efficient models but would also like to be humane. Companies also have a brand to protect,” Giri said.
With the numbers of the not-so-skilled growing, firms are asking HR experts to place them in other sectors. One can’t blame them since new technologies — analytics, cloud computing, IoT — are increasingly bringing in more business. Not exploiting these opportunities could be ruinous. So, while the traditional application development, maintenance (ADM) and verification segments, may be the bread and butter today, the growth in these segments is slowing.
Cognizant’s Bethavandu said in the last 18 months, his firm has reskilled and upskilled 1.4 lakh associates across a host of areas — cloud, AI, data science, design thinking, cybersecurity, interactivity and gamification to name a few.
But, at the end of the day, the industry will need to hire a good many new people. Given the shortage, the available talent is expensive. The BFSI space, which is fast going digital, is paying top dollar to pull in the best tech talent. Hikes of 25% together with ESOPs thrown in are not unusual for a top-class techie, with a flair for analytics. Anshul Lodha, regional director (BFSI), Michael Page India, said a small NBFC may hire a CTO at Rs 60-80 lakh plus variable pay plus ESOPs, while a larger organisation would be willing to offer anywhere between Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 2 crore.
According to a 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF) report titled ‘The Future of Jobs 2018’, the fourth industrial revolution will make 75 million jobs obsolete by the year 2022 but will also create 133 million new jobs — a net gain of 58 million.