Up to 40% of the estimated four-million workforce needs reskilling over the next five years, if they are to keep pace with the changing face and automation of the IT industry, according to Nasscom.
The present government rose to power in 2014 with one of its significant promises being job creation. Fast-forward to 2018 and India is still lagging behind many other countries when it comes to employment generation. In the past couple of years, scores of people were left jobless after huge layoffs in the IT sector. Tremors are still echoing across the country as lingering doubts cast a shadow over the IT sector's potential for job creation.
All this bustle demands attention in the wake of a mercurial rise in the reach of Artificial Intelligence and automated technology. Job creation took a hit with the advent of digital technology and software. Since the same task could be done with the help of lesser manpower and the process of launching products could be sped up, the clear choice was automation. So there was a growing reliance on the use of voice bots and chat bots for the purpose of catering to customer's needs and clearing enquiries so that turnaround times could be sufficiently cut down.
The Real Problem
But the breakthrough of AI does not necessarily signal the massacre of jobs. It actually redefines the way jobs are done. Automation could also pave the way for more job creation albeit, for skilled professionals because with the development of new technologies, there arises an underlying technical complexity which can only be tackled by creating more jobs for young and fresh new talent. Upskilling can help them be ready for higher level positions and make them conformant across sectors.
Gartner's Hype Cycle
A look at Facts
A survey conducted by Financial Express found 85% of the respondents saying that the second most critical problem plaguing the IT sector was the mismatch between the skills required and the skills actually available. Another cause of apprehension was raised — only 17.91% of Indian engineers were actually employable for the software services sector.
When it comes to job loss, Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys said that one way out of it was if the senior executives in a company were willing to accept pay cuts thus reducing the risk factor of the jobs of youngsters. He said that it was one of the methods they resorted to during the slowdown in 2001.
The main reasons for the large layoffs were the under-preparedness of the IT professionals to the evolving technology and their low skill sets. US based Analyst firm HfS Research found that about 6.4 Lakh low-skilled jobs would be lost to automation by 2021 in India. In the face of this, the need to upgrade technological and software capabilities among employees achieves significance. There is a yawning gap between Indian institutes and global business schools in terms of the quality of training provided. This needs rectification.
There must be an overhaul in the organizational models and delivery capabilities of the company so as to suit the expanding reach of digital transformation. New fields of technology should be identified and focus must shift to upskilling employees. Cross-functional as well as cross-technical expertise should be built.
Doing certification courses in an early stage and attending online classes that are conducted by experts in the industry could also help. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) play a great role in promoting flexibility in learning. Working part-time or for apprenticeship programmes and taking up projects that provide you additional skill-sets go a long way in consolidating your future employability. The experience and exposure you've had in the field are two very noteworthy aspects that can facilitate your climb up the ladder.
Automation opens up new avenues for work and can thus create new jobs. It can be related to machine learning, maintenance work, formation of efficient algorithms and logic etc. For all these areas, having skilled professionals is imperative. Digital technology cannot entirely replace manpower. Humans are much more capable of making decisions for the long run and have a higher level of abstraction.
Also, it is anticipated that in the short term, automation will not outrun employment generation. So our present priority should be to target all our energies at building up skill-sets of every employee, adjusting the talent pool and conducting training programs in cloud computing, digital offerings and user experience.
The IT sector has not yet reached its saturation as far as job creation is concerned. All it needs is a major facelift, starting with the recruitment of skilled professionals. Growth and employment opportunities will soon follow.