Faced with a projected fall in revenue and a hiring freeze, several IT services companies are reskilling their employees in order to reduce the time they spend on the bench waiting for the next client project.
According to industry experts, IT and software services companies are shifting their focus to new-age technologies like data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity (focused toward remote/cloud security), which has brought on the need for newer skill sets.
In addition, there is an increased focus on management- and leadership-based learning systems like virtual team management and financial training for non-administrative roles to build greater all-round capacity—handy as firms prepare for leaner workforces.
Industry watchers say that typically, these trainings tend to happen outside of regular work hours but firms are increasingly asking staff to prioritize reskilling to land new client projects faster and cut the time spent on the bench.
“Given the uncertain hiring situation, it is certainly cost effective for companies to choose to upskill their workforce instead of lateral hiring, which may also be time consuming," said Neeti Sharma, senior vice-president of staffing solutions provider TeamLease Services.
“The focus is on creating a learning road map that aligns with the company and the employee’s common goals. Key trends in this area since the lockdown have been a large scale shift of classroom training to virtual training modules and a focus on leadership skilling beyond core technology requirements."
According to estimates, the online education market in India was valued at ₹3,900 crore in 2018 and is expected to jump more than ninefold to ₹36,030 crore by 2024, expanding at an annual pace of 44% during 2019-24.
Ease of learning, flexibility and a wide range of study materials have influenced the overall growth of the industry. The growing business landscape has widened the skill gap among employees, which has led to a rise in demand for reskilling courses.
Sharma noted that at least 60-62% of classroom training programmes have been converted to virtual programmes since the lockdown. Employees are taking self-learning initiatives as well but largely companies are bearing the costs if they match their learning road maps. To be sure, IT companies usually spend around 1-1.5% of their earnings on employee skilling initiatives annually, according to industry body Nasscom.
“The nimbleness to make our workforce ready as and when the demand comes back will become the key factor," said Saurabh Govil, president and chief human resources, Wipro, during a recent earnings call.