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Last Updated : May 23, 2017 10:41 AM IST | Source:

Short on funds, IT cos don't see the point in reskilling employees

Several IT skilling institutes which Moneycontrol spoke to, said that IT companies have clearly stated that they will not spend on reskilling their employees.

M Saraswathy @maamitalks

Harish Mehta (name changed) joined an IT-services firm graduating out of a large engineering school in Tamil Nadu. He is armed with skills in data mining and cloud computing, yet his employer told him that his expertise isn't sufficient to the company's needs. Much ink has been spilt on Indian techies' inadequate skill sets and the need, therefore, to upgrade them. But Moneycontrol has learned that even though employees are keen on upgrading their skills, companies are not willing to invest in them.

Several thousand IT employees are likely to get a pink slip in the next year and the process has already started. Several IT skilling institutes which Moneycontrol spoke to said that IT companies have clearly stated that they will not spend on reskilling their employees.

Senior Wipro employees whom Moneycontrol spoke to said that the mandate is to bring down the average age of teams and weed out those with 10 years of work experience. Most large companies run online marketplaces which offer courses to employees on new disruptive technologies.

Santanu Paul, Co-Founder & CEO, TalentSprint, which provides skilling courses for sectors like IT said that individuals are now expected to pay for learning a new skill. “IT companies are facing cost pressures and they do not have the funds to train employees,” he added.

At Wipro, several managers who have moved up from coding work to managing teams and managing projects, claim that there has not been any conversation on reskilling. Their appraisals over the last few years have been good or exceeded expectations and yet they have been asked to resign. Companies are now looking at cutting costs and do not appear keen to invest in employee welfare, severance packages or even reskilling.

In the past, IT companies would give out a quarterly mandate to train a certain number of people. This year, they have completely backed out, the senior vice-president of a large player in IT training said, on condition of anonymity.

"While very small IT companies are willing to pay for talent development, larger companies that can afford to pay for learning programmes for talent do not want to invest. In fact, some employees have even asked us if we could help them with 3-4 month short courses that could help them save their jobs,” he explained.

In February, Capgemini India Chief Srinivas Kandula said that about 60-65 percent of the IT employees are just not trainable. He had also said the industry could see its largest unemployment in the middle to senior levels. Cut to May 2017, it has already started happening.

While IT companies have been asking employees to resign following a poor rating in their appraisals, employees claim that the companies do not wish to spend on their training.

In a statement, Wipro said that it undertakes rigorous performance appraisal process on a regular basis to align its workforce with the business objectives, strategic priorities of the organisation, and requirements of our clients.

"This systematic and comprehensive performance evaluation process triggers a series of actions such as mentoring, retraining and upskilling. Regular feedback and multiple opportunities are provided for improving the performance. The performance appraisal may also lead to the separation of some employees from the company and these numbers vary from year to year," it added.

Companies where new age skills like data mining, coding, artificial intelligence and full stack Java programming are the most in demand, human resource experts are of the view that firms want younger talent for the role. This is primarily because they do not want to spend money on upskilling.

On one hand, while companies do not want to spend, on the other engineering institutes have also been facing pressures. A senior placement head at an Indian Institute of Technology said that top IT firms hired lower numbers this year and cited ‘skills’ as a factor for it.

“Earlier, we had a similar profile of students and they hired good numbers. Maybe, costs prevented them from doing so this year,” he added. Most engineering institutes, which are the hiring ground for IT employees, do review their curriculum every three to five years depending on the data available and faculty available to teach them.

However, engineering professors do admit that there is a dearth of teaching staff for new-age technology since those skilled in these areas opt to join the corporate world.

In this situation, employees have also said that companies are not providing adequate time to reskill and are primarily looking to let go of staff.

According to a FICCI-EY report on the future of jobs and its implications on the Indian education system, India will reportedly need to create jobs for around 100 million people who enter the job market over the next decade.

“However, primarily driven by automation of repetitive jobs, India’s IT services industry workforce is expected to shrink by 480,000 by 2021,” the report said.
First Published on May 22, 2017 06:32 pm
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