Different Strokes for Different Folks, Say Experts
Information Technology REVENUE $154 billion CONTRIBUTION TO GDP 7.7% TOTAL JOBS 3.7 million CHALLENGES
Technological developments in this sector have led to a much higher level of automation. In that sense, the IT sector is bringing change to other sectors while also being impacted by those same changes. The big issue is the level of skill of the workforce rather than the number of people in it.
At the turn of the millennium, if a 100 per cent increase in revenues led to a certain increase in head count, the same increase in revenue today would require only half the corresponding increase in headcount—and this is going to reduce further. Less skilled workers may not be required in high numbers.
A lot of re-skilling is required for employees to remain relevant. However, some employees may not be capable of learning new skills. This could lead to a situation in which companies are hiring new employees while simultaneously letting existing employees go because of their weaker skills. That is another consequence of the continuously growing technology landscape.
Within the industry, there is a little bit of miscommunication or misrepresentation—that there are mass layoffs. That situation has not yet arrived. Even if companies let go of one per cent of employees on account of performance, the industry as a whole would shed 40,000 people a year. But five per cent are being hired. There are newer skills and newer talent requirements.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
We need to look at increasing technology jobs in non-technology sectors. Technology is being heavily deployed in areas like healthcare and manufacturing.
The government’s national skills programme is not adequately forward-looking. We need [to develop] skill sets that will be required five years hence.
People should be trained at sufficient scale, quality and speed. That will happen only when technology is used for skilling itself, like online programmes supplemented with classrooms, but essentially relying on online content.
There is a need to create jobs, but existing jobs also have to evolve so that we can retain our competitive edge. Technology has seeped into almost every sector—people need to be trained.
Training will acquire momentum if those who are hiring are willing to pay a premium for those who are trained.
R. Chandrasekhar President, Nasscom