Those employed in the sector are too comfortable - doing the same thing over and over again. The fact that a lot of what they do is getting obsolete hasn’t sunk in.
I have been thinking about the impact that new technologies are having on Indian industries at large, and the Indian IT industry in particular for some time now, and the fact that recent news reports have started reporting increasingly on the phenomena of layoffs and defunct jobs - has led me to dwell further on. The Indian media has been giving it a new name everyday - 'job losses', 'firing', 'layoffs', 'disappointing IT sector earnings' etc. In the past few months we have all read and seen many stories around this increasingly uncertain world of technology and automation. Here are some headlines to give you a sense:
- Top 7 companies to layoff at least 56,000 employees this year
- Telangana govt to meet Cognizant officials over layoffs
- Big layoffs in India's IT sector: Techies protest sacking by Cognizant, seek govt intervention
- Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro techies stare at job loss as Indian IT firms battle Trump’s protectionism
One can look at this as glass half empty, or one can be optimistic about what is happening around us. I have always believed that the gloom surrounding the number of jobs being lost in the IT sector is not adequately compensated by the optimism on the types and magnitude of jobs being created in new-age areas of data, digital, products, cyber security etc. With an acute shortage of two lakh professionals in data analytics by 2018, 1.5-2 lakh jobs in digital marketing and thousands of jobs in the product management space expected to come up, we are faced with a new challenge of matching this demand for new job roles in emerging areas with adequate supply.
The conventional education model is letting us down in this regard. Today, more than 80 percent of engineering graduates are unemployable. Roughly 50-60 percent of employers are facing difficulty in filling jobs. The head of a leading technology consulting firm was recently quoted as saying that about 65 percent of IT employees are not even re-trainable. It's easy to be scared off by these figures.
I guess in this entire narrative what we have failed to see is that those employed in the IT sector are too comfortable - doing the same thing over and over again. The fact that a lot of what they do is getting obsolete hasn’t sunk in. Everyone is thinking that their company will help them get re-skilled. But the Indian IT services sector in India employs roughly 3.5 million and the challenge of upskilling the IT sector workforce puts the industry and young India at a crossroad. One where individuals must get up and take charge of their career - on their own.
If you were once a systems administrator you could now be a system and network architect. If you worked as a web designer, opportunities in UX are now knocking at your door. You could go from being a project manager to a product manager and much, much more!
It is important to believe that instead of getting swept away by the wave of automation, we are faced with massive opportunities to ride this wave and take charge of our careers. The Indian IT Industry's revenue from digital technology projects are growing 7x faster than from traditional projects. Isn't this enough of a green signal for us?
From big data to cloud technologies, digital marketing to analytics, business intelligence to cyber security and product management to entrepreneurship - all these are upcoming areas with a huge talent shortage. Those employed in the Indian IT sector need to assess for themselves, instead of relying on external forces, what is a good time for them to take the plunge is. This would require a structural adjustment. Today's youth has multiple options available to them to upskill themselves - be it online or offline training or both. At UpGrad - we are committed to building careers of tomorrow by offering professionals quality online program that will help them stay relevant in this ever-changing industry.
The rise of the Indian middle-class was made possible by the rise of IT in India; it is now time for a similar shift with respect to data and digital technologies - better known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The only way it will happen is if individuals take charge of their career and not expect others to help them, without allowing the gloom to take over.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)