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    'Upskill or perish’ is now the norm for software engineers


    Service integrators see the highest number of layoffs because of the nature of their business.

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    Over 70-80% of IT roles are now geared towards new technology.
    NEW DELHI|BENGALURU: Software services firms may be forced to lay off more staff — as IBM’s recent decision to sack 300 employees shows — if IT professionals fail to upskill in a rapidly transforming technology landscape, experts say. The decision, however, is not going to be easy for companies, they point out.

    Pure-play skill sets such as Java and DotNet are no longer enough, the need of the hour is for software engineers skilled in technologies like Python, robotic process automation (RPA), big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, blockchain, augmented reality and UI/UX design.

    There are around 3 million software engineers in the IT services industry, not including business process management firms. About 600,000 of those are skilled in digital technologies.

    Currently, about 80% of IT sector revenue comes from traditional services, but industry lobby group, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), expects revenue from legacy or traditional technologies to come down to 40% by 2025. “Continuous skilling is the need of the hour for tech talent and anyone unable to do so may not find a place in the fast-evolving Indian IT space,” says Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president, Nasscom.

    Service integrators see the highest number of layoffs because of the nature of their business, says Shibani Patel, vice-president of IT recruitment and staffing services company Collabera.

    “Companies, by and large, do not want to let go of employees they have invested in and trained, so when layoffs happen, it is generally those who have not been able to adapt or upskill who face the heat,” Patel told ET. The shift to digital has meant “tech skills are going obsolete very quickly.”

    Over 70-80% of IT roles are now geared towards new technology, which means an overwhelming number of profiles are becoming redundant, says Abhishek Rungta, chief executive, Indus Net Technologies. “This is just the tip of the iceberg — there will be many more layoffs over the next few years. Software services are taking the biggest hit, and any role where critical thinking is not required is in danger,” he says.

    Demand for Python, UI and RPA has shot up phenomenally over the past year, says Aditya Narayan Mishra, chief executive of CIEL HR Services. “Of the total recruitment demands that come to us, demand for those skilled in new technologies is roughly almost half,” he says.

    Of the 5,500 search requests in the first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year, 70% have been for talent skilled in new technologies compared to early 2018 (January-April) when demand for new tech talent was just 50%, says Guruprasad Srinivasan, president of Workforce Management Solutions, Quess Corp Ltd.

    SpringPeople, which offers online courses, too has seen demand for emerging technologies quadruple in the last two years, says CEO Ravi Kaklasaria.

    “While I see most of our clients investing in upskilling/reskilling their current employees, few are replacing existing workforce that have been working on conventional technologies such as DotNet, Java, Databases, Mainframe with a workforce that is ready with new-age technologies,” he says.

    11 Comments on this Story

    Goswami Boy558 days ago
    This should have been the situation 10 yrs back. The IT culture would have been much better. People would have focused more on skills and output than position and politics.
    Som Karamchetty558 days ago
    We have entered an era when upskilling is must for every profession, not just for Software professionals. Businesses, government, and individuals will have to have a plan for continual learning. Learning has to keep pace with the pace of generation of new knowledge. But, people have fixed amount of time. Hence, they have to allocate a smaller fraction of their time to work and assign some time continually for learning and keeping up with new knowledge, and skills. This will mean that they have to settle for a lower income. By employing more people for lesser number of hours per week, the work of businesses does not suffer. Education sector has to be positioned for such continual skilling of people. Anyway, people also need to keep some time for family, societal, cultural, and leisure activities. In the long term, machines are likely to take over and do most activities and people will have more time for non-work activities.
    mayank559 days ago
    Technology is changing very fast. Traditional business model of outsourcing companies where waterfall model was a key part of their success. Now, every industry is moving or has already adapted fast moving Agile process in the software development where each team member is expected to be an individual contributor rather being a manager. Thus , people who can actually code are the ones which are required the others will become redundant. But there is a positive in this, people who will focus on actual learning will get immense opportunities everywhere. Great time to learn!
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