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Keshav Murugesh, chairman, NASSCOM.
Keshav Murugesh, chairman, NASSCOM.

India’s IT workforce may become obsolete unless govt supports reskilling program: NASSCOM

  • The talent demand-supply gap in AI and Big Data Analytics is expected to grow from 62,000 to 140,000 over the next 3 years
  • India’s IT industry has laid off thousands of people in the last 2-3 years as automation and digitisation disrupted jobs

India’s vast IT workforce, which has powered the nation’s growth in the IT services sector, is in danger of becoming obsolete unless the government supports a massive reskilling program in the upcoming budget, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) said.

The industry body said that such reskilling is desperately needed if “India has to stay relevant in the sector," noting that there is a huge demand-supply gap currently is segments such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data Analytics for roles like Machine Learning engineers as well as data scientists.

The talent demand-supply gap in AI and Big Data Analytics is expected to grow from 62,000 to 140,000 over the next 3 years according to a report by the World Economic Forum. “Thus the need for reskilling is top priority."

India’s IT industry has laid off thousands of people in the last 2-3 years as automation and digitisation disrupted jobs. About 20-35% of the jobs in the IT-BPM sector are threatened due to automation, according to a Nasscom-FICCI-EY Future of Jobs in India study.

“What is required is carefully designed tax incentives to companies to encourage skilling and reskilling," said Keshav Murugesh, Chairman – NASSCOM & Group CEO, WNS.

India’s government needs to also set up a deep tech investment fund with an outlay of 3,000 crores for technology start ups, the industry body said.

There has been a spurt in funding in deep tech startups, as investor interest in niche products and platforms has increased significantly. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Machine Learning (ML), and virtual reality (VR) are leading the startup space, according to the IT body, which represents the $180 billion Information Technology-Business Process Management industry in India.

“With technological disruption being a catalyst for the growth of startups today, we expect the government to make significant investments in technology hubs that will help strengthen emerging technologies," said Bhavin Turakhia, Founder & CEO, Flock.

“As India is witnessing this boom in digital technology adoption, it has put us on the global map and we need to ensure that we take the relevant steps to ensure that our country is at the center of the fourth industrial revolution.’’

Addressing the challenges of reskilling the aspiring and existing technology workforce will require changes from all stakeholders and government can only play a supportive role, industry officials said.

In fact, Indian IT and IT services companies such as Cognizant, Wipro and Infosys are reskilling employees on a war footing.

“Enterprises will need to increase investments in training while government will need to provide the framework to support individuals and companies through the period of change, says Sameer Dhanrajani, CEO, AIQRATE, a global AI advisory & consulting firm.

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