"Reskilling & training of talent in emerging technologies is the need of the hour"

Abhay Anand | 28th Sep, 2018 - 2:59 p.m. IST
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Harshvendra Soin, Chief People Officer, Tech Mahindra speaks to Careers360 on talent acquisition strategy of the organisation and the importance of training and skilling for retention...

Q. The Government of India is working to explore new opportunities in various sectors such as providing BPO service from home, digital healthcare and agriculture to make India a US$ 1 trillion digital economy, how prepared is our workforce for this?

A. The Indian IT industry is witnessing fast growth and has become the digital capabilities hub of the world through the use of cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, and IoT (Internet of Things). Digital India is a large accelerator for the IT Industry – all Government Departments, both Central and State Government, are investing to increase government efficiency and to improve Public Services, including Security and Surveillance, Smart Cities, Healthcare, Digital and e-Government. Advancements in technology are accelerating at a phenomenal rate and the emergence of every new technology has created abundant opportunities. But in order to capture them ahead of the competition, businesses need to rapidly assemble the right skills. However, there is an acute shortage of skilled talent in the next generation technologies and this needs to be addressed urgently. This is why enterprises are taking an active approach by making continual training a core competency.

The need of the hour is for companies to invest in the re-skilling and future-skilling of employees. As a leading global technology company, being future-ready is our prime responsibility and as part of our TechMNxt charter, we, at Tech Mahindra are investing heavily in reskilling our employees in next gen technologies like Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robotics, and Automation, and 5G.

Q. India has the demographic dividend, largest youth population, still, a large section of our youth is unemployed, how to bridge this gap?

A. New age digital technologies are disrupting the business landscape and impacting the structure of industries and economic activity. As a result, there is an overpowering need for skilled workers in India. The acute shortage of skills is a recurring theme in every sector, industry and profession in India. Over 20 million youth are added to the workforce every year but only a small percentage of them actually manage to secure a job. Finding and retaining skilled talent remains a big challenge and the workforce needs nurturing in the right skills. Reskilling and training of talent in new and emerging technologies is the need of the hour. There needs to be emphasis on developing more practical, applied, skill and experience-based education. Higher education institutions should build alliances with industry partners, share learning and refine strategies. Besides, there needs to be a greater acceptance of vocational diplomas/certifications by employers.

Q. As per latest NASSCOM report, IT industry is expected to add one lakh new jobs in 2018-19, a majority of the new jobs will be in the area of AI and big data analytics, how are they changing the employment ecosystem?

A. There is a considerable shortage of skilled IT professionals in new age technologies like AI, Analytics, Cybersecurity, Blockchain and IoT. As per a NASSCOM report, the Indian IT industry employs around 4 million people and about 40% of them need re-skilling over the next five years to stay relevant in the face of automation. With huge amount of data being generated in the IT industry, automation and big data analytics are creating an increasing demand for high skilled positions involving creative problem solving, analytical and critical thinking.

These new and emerging technologies will create a massive number of opportunities for the workforce. However, with the focus now shifting towards hiring professionals trained in such niche technologies, every single employee and every individual associated with the IT industry will have to adapt and make the transition towards adopting newer technologies.

Q. Tech Mahindra has recruited 1,800 fresh graduates in the first quarter and is likely to hire 4,000 freshers in next three quarters, what qualities a company like yours look for while going hire freshers?

A. As part of our TechMNxt charter, we are betting big on enhanced intelligence through Blockchain, Cybersecurity, AI, ML, Robotics, and Automation, and 5G. We firmly believe that these new and emerging technologies will create a massive number of opportunities for the workforce in the future. Given this, there has been a clear rise in hiring professionals trained in such niche technologies. Automation and RPA is creating an increasing demand for high skilled positions involving creative problem solving, analytical and critical thinking. All employees across all levels must be ready to learn and re-skill themselves in the next generation technologies. We are also looking at the ‘Innovate Quotient’ as an important parameter while hiring.

Q. Has the IT, ITES industry changed its approach of recruitment by focusing more on demand-based hiring instead of creating an inventory, could you elaborate on that?

A. The hiring trends in the IT sector are shifting more towards demand-based hiring. Hiring is no longer linear to the growth of companies. Today, with the emergence of next generation technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Automation and RPA, we are looking at exponential growth on revenue per employee, which means you are going up the value chain. So, you are doing work, wherein, if you must make a hundred million dollars, you don’t want hundred people, but you can probably do it with ten people. As a result, while revenues will grow, the headcount of employees will not perhaps grow in the same line but additional avenues will be created where we will have people coming in and refueling our growth.

Q. How technology interventions have impacted the hiring trends, could you share some of the new practices being involved?

A. Some traditional roles are becoming obsolete, new opportunities are emerging in areas such as Blockchain, IoT, Automation and Robotics. As a result, there has been a rise in hiring professionals trained in such niche technologies. The focus in the Industry seems to have shifted to ‘Re-skilling’ and ‘Future Skilling’ employees. We have clearly seen an uptake on hiring in the ‘Digital’ space.

Technology has enabled recruiters to virtually interview candidates in a ‘real life like’ environment through telepresence etc.

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