We’ve been bombarded with reports in the media about the increased use of automation in technology and a related slowdown in recruitment in large enterprises in India. At the same time, in the startup ecosystem, over 10,000 professionals are likely to be given pink slips this year. Many startups have also slowed down hiring from the country’s premium B-schools, which clearly indicates a gap in the fund flow to expand their businesses.
Indian startups have been media darlings for the last five years. Billion dollar valuations, stories of 30-year-old millionaires, liberal work places with exciting perks, superlative salary packages, and over-the-top designations in the startups became the new norm. During 2010–2015, professionals from well-established IT, FMCG, and consulting firms moved in droves from their steady but boring jobs to explore exciting newer opportunities in startups across Bengaluru, Gurgaon, and Pune.
The year 2016 presents a different picture where the reality is a little less sweeter than expected. In 2015 alone, 13 well-funded startups shut shop. Most startups are far from breaking even and investors are starting to focus on costs and returns. Since January this year, many unicorns have been forced to trim their expense and like their traditional technology peers, they have started cutting down on perks, such as free meals, lavish parties, spectacular yearly bonuses, and over the top salaries. Some have even begun downsizing, albeit a lot more quietly. To make matters worse, we are in the midst of the appraisal season and for those who have managed to keep their jobs, chances are that increments will not be as generous as they were last year. Unless, of course, they were able to bring home the bacon – a revenue growth for the business.
India produces over 1.5 million engineers every year and 80 per cent of them are unemployable. In the technology-enabled industry, only 20 per cent of the current mid-level workforce will continue to be employable over the next three years. The shift happening in the job market is obvious. Over the next few years, unemployment is going to reach its peak — not at the low-skill level but at the medium-skill section of the population.
The biggest threat to employability is in the medium skill level. These are the well-paying jobs like day traders, project managers, process owners, quality managers and any other role that involves managing workforce who are into low level tasks. With an onset of digital technologies, there has been an advancement in machine learning, hi-tech automation, and the birth of new tools and technologies that has resulted in a whole generation of medium-skilled professionals becoming redundant. Also, the changing way of conducting business has given rise to the need of adapting oneself to the transforming requirements of such jobs.
It has been noted that job opportunities are moving away from task-based employment to value creation-specific employment opportunities. In order to continue to stay employed, people with mid-level job skills will either need to move to low skilled jobs or pick up ‘new skills’ to move up the value chain. Even so, the kind of upskilling has portrayed a trend of being task-based or ones that create added value to the specific jobs that are being dealt with. Frequent upskilling helps individuals to stay up to date and provides them the drive to perform better at work, to get recognised and earn rewards and accolades. While individuals are up-skilling themselves to get ahead in their careers and lives, the industry is also benefiting with improved and skilled workforce who are adapting themselves to the changing technologies and are willing to contribute to their organisation’s growth.
So if you’re worried about your career growth in a startup or stuck in yet another job that is going nowhere, invest in upskilling yourself, specifically in the task that would benefit your job, making it probably one of the very few options to stay relevant and add value. Do not dither over upgrading your skill set for career growth as learning and development must be a personal responsibility.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)