Here’s what India’s IT inc. wants: A report on the tech skilling landscape in India

The State of the Tech Skilling Landscape in India by YourStory in collaboration with Great Learning, explores the changing skill landscape and the potential of skilling from the points of view of both employee and employer

India today is in a prime position to not only join the global technology elite, but lead it. While the global population is ageing rapidly, India, with one of the youngest populations in the world, is at a strategic advantage with regards to demographic dividend. However, almost three-fourths of our population is unskilled. The World Economic Forum’s Global Talent Risk report cautions that while India has moved up on a global index of talent competitiveness, it remains a laggard among the BRICS nations. There is a wide gap between the skills required in industry and those provided by the education system.

“Upskilling has become critical to ensure a successful career in this era of dynamic technological advancements. Technologies such as AI, ML, Data Science, Cloud Computing, and Cybersecurity, among others, are revolutionising business processes, rendering some skills and job roles obsolete, while also creating new jobs and roles. Hence, there is a dire need for upskilling to move towards future-focused roles and build a highly rewarding career,” said Hari Krishnan Nair, Co-Founder Great Learning.

The state of the tech skilling landscape in India

YourStory collaborated with Great Learning, India's leading edtech company focused on upskilling working professionals and students, to put together The State of the Tech Skilling Landscape in India report. The report presents learnings from both employees and employers’ perspectives with the aim to give professionals and business leaders an in-depth understanding of the most sought-after and future-critical skills in the market, and the domains that have the highest potential for maximum business impact.

What India’s IT inc. wants

Over 307 companies, with varying employee sizes, participated in the survey. The respondents who were business leaders and recruiters, represented companies with three distinct employee sizes: 1) more than 1,000, 2) between 100 and 1,000, and 3) less than 100. At least 84 companies or 27 percent of the respondents had more than 1,000 employees. Another 86 companies, or 28 percent of the respondents, were organisations that employed between 100 and 1,000 employees, while the remaining 137 companies, or 45 percent of respondents, employed less than 100 employees.

Key takeaways:

1. Tech upskilling key to boosting organisational performance: 78 percent of the respondents, said further learning and skilling opportunities for employees is instrumental in boosting an organisation’s performance. These findings were true across companies of different employee sizes.

2. AI/ML emerges as top skills to drive future growth: Over 40 percent of all respondents identified AI/ML and digital marketing skills as the top skills necessary to drive future growth.

3. Relevance of upskilling decreases with seniority: 83 percent of all respondents believe that tech upskilling is most relevant for Managers, Executives and Freshers, with the figure decreasing to 17 percent for the Senior Manager/Director/Founder level, highlighting the significance of ensuring early learning in the organisational structure.

4. Hiring and upskilling key to bridging tech demand-supply gap: Around 39 percent of all respondents opined that they opt for upskilling and 37 percent for hiring as a means to fill the demand-supply mismatch in tech talent.

5. Majority of organisations keen on investing in tech upskilling of employees: Around 81 percent of all respondents said their organisations had set aside a budget or were keen on exploring the possibility for investing in their employee’s upskilling.

6. Customisation and certifications are a key parameter for assessing upskilling partners: Both these parameters accounted for 64 percent of votes.

What India’s IT workforce wants

People ranging from students to employees at various levels of seniority within an organisation participated in the survey. 26 percent of the respondents were at the executive level, followed by 25 percent at the manager level, and another 24 percent at the director/founder level. At least 9 percent of the respondents were at the senior manager level, while another 16 percent were students.

Key takeaways:

1. Tech upskilling is key for career growth: At least 82 percent of the respondents said they consider upskilling to be ‘very important’ to grow professionally.

2. Learning from experts or peers is seen as the best upskilling method: Around 43 percent of respondents said the best method for upskilling employees is through training imparted by subject matter experts or colleagues within the organisation.

3. New or better role is the primary reason for employees’ willingness to pay for upskilling: An overwhelming 65 percent of all respondents said they would be willing to pay for an upskilling course if it led to a new or better job role.

4. Lack of time and costs major barriers towards upskilling: Lack of time (41 percent) and costs associated with skilling courses (27 percent) were identified as the major barriers for employees to pursue upskilling courses.

5. AI/ML skills seen as key for future career growth: At least 38 percent of employee respondents identified AI/ML skills as key for their future development and career growth.

Skilling for 2030

Whatever your take on automation’s impact on labour, we can all surely agree that future work will require, well, future skills. McKinsey Global Institute’s latest report, Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions in a Time of Automation, assesses the number and types of jobs that might be created under different scenarios by 2030 and compares them to the jobs that could be lost to (or gained with) automation. The results reveal a rich mosaic of potential shifts in occupations in the years ahead, with important implications for workforce skills and wages. The key finding is that while there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030, under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging—matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.

Countries with a rapidly growing workforce, such as India, could enjoy a “demographic dividend” that boosts GDP growth—if young people are employed. The analysis points to growth for most occupational categories in India, reflecting its potential for strong economic expansion. India could create enough new jobs to offset automation and employ these new entrants by undertaking the investments in our step-up scenario.

Since the youth of 2025 would need to master skills to work in sectors that would be invented in 2030, the cohort that would mentor them has to be upskilled in 2020. It is not feasible for a system to train and retrain millions of workers every few years for jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. India, therefore, needs to revise its approach to education and employment. The country’s vision for technology, specifically education technology or ed-tech, will be key to riding the next wave of change.

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