Jobo­ca­lypse! Sil­i­con Col­lars are Win­ning Race for Work

Nasscom said in its an­nual re­view that jobs grew only by 5% in FY17 and there may be a 20-25% re­duc­tion in jobs over the next three years

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech -

Surabhi Agar­wal & Prachi Verma Dad­hwal

Mum­bai | New Delhi: As the $155-bil­lion IT in­dus­try tries to rein­vent it­self through au­to­ma­tion, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) and ma­chine learn­ing, its tra­di­tional ap­petite for jobs is de­creas­ing by the day. In­dus­try body Nasscom said in its an­nual re­view that while the in­dus­try grew at 8.6%, jobs grew only by 5% in the fis­cal year 2016-17. Nasscom also said that there is go­ing to be a 20-25% re­duc­tion in jobs over the next three years.

In­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives and ex­perts said that the gap be­tween the rev­enue growth and job growth will only in­crease given the com­modi­tised na­ture of the IT ser­vices.

Mal­colm Frank, chief strat­egy of­fi­cer of Cog­nizant said that Ox­ford Univer­sity got every­body ner­vous when they said that 47% of all jobs will go away by 2025. “In the next10 years, we don’t think there will not be a white-col­lar job that will not be touched by ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. In our estimate, around12% of the jobs will go away due to the bot and au­to­ma­tion.” He added that the re­main­ing three quar­ters of the jobs will have to adopt bots as a tool. “But, it’s go­ing to be all okay. There will be 13% of net new jobs which will emerge which we don’t know about,” said Frank.

Ex­ec­u­tives said that while the sit­u­a­tion is be­ing touted as all gloom and doom, there are a va­ri­ety of new skills such as data sci­en­tists which are re­quired and reskilling of peo­ple


at all lev­els will be the key fo­cus area in the com­ing years. Ke­shav Mu­rugesh, CEO of WNS Global Ser­vices said that chang­ing trends in the tech­nol­ogy is a way of life and the in­dus­try can’t com­plain about it. “As ro­bot­ics, ma­chine learn­ing, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence get more deeply in­cor­po­rated into the busi­ness mod­els, the rev­enue will grow faster than the head­count,” he said. Mu­rugesh added that, how­ever, since there is still a lot of un­tapped po­ten­tial for the in­dus­try, the higher growth rates in the fu­ture will mean in­crease in job ad­di­tions too. “The in­dus­try has to it­self fig­ure out the skilling part. The best way is to iden­tify the tech­nolo­gies of the fu­ture and work to­wards de­vel­op­ing those skills,” he said. Over the past year, while In­fosys has “re­leased” 8,000-9,000 em­ploy­ees be­cause of au­to­ma­tion of low­erend jobs to work on more ad­vanced projects, Wipro has an au­to­ma­tion plat­form called Holmes which has led to around 3,200 peo­ple be­ing re­leased to do more in­no­va­tive work. Ratna Gupta, di­rec­tor - tech­nol­ogy ver­ti­cal at ABC Con­sul­tants, said that till 2020, low-skilled and rou­tine jobs in the space like test­ing, sys­tem ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­fra­struc­ture ad­min­is­tra­tion, op­er­a­tions, BPOs are likely to be hit. “Econ­o­mists are al­ready wor­ry­ing about “job po­lar­i­sa­tion”, where mid­dle- skill jobs (such as those in man­u­fac­tur­ing) are de­clin­ing but both lowskill and high-skill jobs are ex­pand­ing.”

Com­pa­nies are re­sort­ing to train­ing em­ploy­ees in ma­chine learn­ing and the use of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence ei­ther in-house or through tie-ups with dif­fer­ent col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. Sid­dharth Sang­wan, ex­ec­u­tive search leader at Korn Ferry Fu­turestep, said that or­gan­i­sa­tions are be­ing nim­ble about the roles get­ting cre­ated and be­com­ing re­dun­dant. “This is mak­ing for a very fru­gal work­force, one which has the abil­ity to be more broad-based in their skill sets,” he said.

De­spite the wor­ry­ing trends, it has been noted in the past that tech­nol­ogy has cre­ated more jobs than it de­stroys. That is be­cause of the way au­to­ma­tion works in prac­tice, ex­plains David Au­tor, an economist at the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

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