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IT companies take to re-skilling to reduce bench time for employees

Mid-sized IT companies are benefiting from the disaggregation of deals to smaller sizes and revamp in their managements. Photo: BloombergPremium
Mid-sized IT companies are benefiting from the disaggregation of deals to smaller sizes and revamp in their managements. Photo: Bloomberg

  • IT and software services companies are shifting focus on areas like data analytics, artificial intelligence and cyber-security
  • These training usually happen outside of regular work hours but companies are increasingly asking employees to reskill at priority to land new client projects faster

MUMBAI: Faced with projected fall in revenues and a complete hiring freeze, several IT services companies in India are working on reskilling initiatives for employees to reduce time spent by employees, waiting for the next client project.

According to industry experts, IT and software services companies are shifting focus on new age technology areas like data analytics, artificial intelligence and cyber-security (focused towards remote/ cloud security) among others, which has added to the need for newer skill sets.

In addition, there is an increased focus on management and leadership- based learning systems like virtual team management, financial training for non-administrative roles among others to build greater all-round capacity when companies are preparing for leaner workforces.

Industry watchers said, these training usually happen outside of regular work hours but companies are increasingly asking employees to reskill at priority to land new client projects faster and reduce 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 roadmap that aligns to the company and employee’s common goals," said Sharma, adding key trends in this area since the lockdown has 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 39 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach 360.3 billion by 2024. 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 notes that at least 60-62% of classroom training programs have been converted to virtual programs since the lockdown. Employees are also taking self-learning initiatives as well but largely companies are bearing the costs if they confirm to their learning roadmaps.

IT companies usually spend around 1-1.5% of their earnings on employee skilling initiatives annually as an on-going process 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 feels that re-skilling, will be important in terms of how people coming from the bench (on hold for new projects) are utilized.

“Our talent model and our continuous investment in re-skilling has prepared our employee base for fungibility and rapid shift and self-learning. These are further emphasized in the current situation," said Rajesh Gopinathan, CEO & MD, TCS told Mint in a recent interview.

Gopinathan added that TCS plans to use its Secure Borderless Workspaces model, a digital collaboration platform to upskill and move employees into higher value-add roles with aggressive online training programs that have already commenced.

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