IT firms will have to re-skill two million employees ahead of a full-blooded digital push; are they prepared?

From the 90s to around 2010, India and the world witnessed the rise of the IT sector -- a sector that fueled millions of aspirations, practically defining the birth of the middle class and giving rise to many, many jobs.

The companies that entered the sector are all house-hold names now – be it Infosys, Wipro, Intel, TCS or the big international names like HCL and IBM that entered the scene to compete with the Indian firms, which however, continued to dominate.

In our previous article we talked more about the lay of the land, and what exactly those in the IT sector work on, and even discussed the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of the IT boom – the efficiencies that were capitalised on to make it happen.

 IT firms will have to re-skill two million employees ahead of a full-blooded digital push; are they prepared?

Representative image.

Despite the various waves it rode, Indian IT is not in the best place now – there's news of layoffs, falling revenue from IT exports (led by Bengaluru / Karnataka) and there's data that shows that 65 percent of all IT employees are not considered re-trainable.

However, there are multiple opportunities arising in the face of this decline. So what’s triggering these winds of change? To put it simply, it’s the rise of automation. New age technologies and other such inevitable forces are causing disruptions in various (if not all) industries and businesses, and IT is no exception.

A few changing roles within the IT industry would yield something like this:

1. Systems administrators are those who manage operations of IT systems and also define the architecture of IT systems. These roles are metamorphosing into more complex System and Network Architects, who now ensure uptime performance and security as well as optimise the overall design to ensure all user needs are met.
2. The role of web designers (typically designing UI for web applications and improving user experience through design thinking) is transforming into more of 'user experience gurus' who are instead responsible for the overall look and feel of websites and focus heavily on user research to identify user needs.
3. Data centre specialists (DCS) are turning into information insight enablers (IIE). The DCS provide technical support to operators, accountants and other groups, and help business leaders and other employees derive insights from reports. On the other hand, IIEs are responsible for scheduling software support and workload balance of servers and also have a deep understanding of business and data.
4. Project managers, who are responsible for the project life-cycle and managing processes and resources are now more needed to take on the role of product managers and become responsible for user research, wire-framing and scaling the product.

As revenues from digital technology projects grow 7x faster than from traditional ones, more of such roles will take root and altogether new ones will also emerge (and are already emerging). You would have heard of some of these if not all as they have become buzzwords; you may even be skilling yourself to take on one of them:

1. Data scientists – Almost doubling year on year, the number of data analytics jobs to be filled stood at 50,000 in 2017, in India alone, according to a report by Analytics India Magazine. India apparently contributes just 12 percent of open jobs currently. However, the number of jobs in India are likely to increase much faster as compared to the rest of the world as more analytics projects get outsourced to India due to a lack of skills across the world (which needs takers for millions of jobs).
2. Mobile app developers – Globally, revenue from sales of all mobile apps is slated to reach $99 billion by 2019. It’s no wonder that this is one of the most coveted spaces to build a career in.
3. Internet of things (IOT) – Globally, the number of IOT connected devices is expected to reach 28 billion by 2020.
4. Machine learning and artificial intelligence – This trend is expected to generate $100-120 billion globally for the IT-BPM industry, according to a report by E&Y.

The roles of compliance officers, social media architects, loud integration specialists, along with the fields of big data, digital marketing, AR, VR, block chain, cyber-security, among others are all a part of the new, emerging areas that are presenting us and the IT sector with thousands of options.

But to take on these new career pathways, two million existing employees need to be re-skilled on digital technology and 1.5 million new IT employees need to be skilled by 2025. Are we prepared for this challenge?

(Kumar is co-founder and CEO of UpGrad. Shankar is chief of staff to the CEO and head of the UpGrad Online Scholarship)

Updated Date: Jun 01, 2018 21:56:57 IST