Here is what's in front of us: a shortage of half a million
software professionals by 2010. This, if not fulfilled, can cost the country
about $6 billion worth of IT services business, according to Nasscom. Grim
prediction, but that really is the state of affairs.
And that's why the efforts to hire fresh graduates and train
them are gaining ground. Intensive training, and over longer durations, is being
provided to equip them with the IT and soft skills needed for business.
Currently, the focus seems to be on science and math graduates for software
services. Hiring graduates is a way to tackle the manpower crunch, but may also
be a way to eventually cut costs-because the poaching route can only increase
salaries to unaffordable levels.
|India would be able to
develop better software and do more complex projects by having the right
talent at the right places. This would, of course, take a while
Tata Consultancy Services has a program called Ignite, an
article on which was carried in the Dataquest, Sep 15 2007 issue, in
which science and math graduates are put through seven months of training, which
includes work on live projects as well. The pilot project with 500 graduates has
been completed, and TCS is planning to keep this up. Wipro, with its Wipro
Academy of Software Excellence started this with BSc, BCA and BCM graduates, way
back in 1995. Apart from training, the students also get the chance to go for an
MS program from BITS, Pilani. Many of the other big names have similar programs.
But what about the smaller companies? Not all have the money or
resources to put fresh grads into several months of training. No doubt, many of
those trained will move to other companies over a period of time. But the 'hire,
train and lose philosophy' can work only for so long. To that extent it is a
national problem and not one which can be solved by a few big players virtually
venturing into the business of training.
So, are the engineers getting shortchanged with all this? On the
face of it, it would look like that. But for now, the proportion of graduates
getting hired is not huge. It is barely
10 percent of the new hires for TCS currently and could grow to 15 percent by
next year. But, over time if the quality of work and productivity does not
suffer, the spate of campus recruitments in engineering colleges and good
engineers sporting multiple job-offers by their seventh semester, could see a
That may actually be a good problem to deal with. Good engineers
would still get absorbed, and they would be hired for work that brings far more
business value. India would be able to develop better software and do more
complex projects by having the right talent at the right places. This would, of
course, take a while happening.
Another way to increase the funnel size is to look at graduates
beyond the science and math streams. There is really no reason why they cannot
be trained if they manage to clear the basic qualitative and quantitative tests.
Our educational system is fundamentally marks-driven, and not talent-driven, so
there should be more trainable talent out there. And if we were to scout the
rÃ©sumÃ©s of software professionals currently working in IT companies, we would
come across many, many software professionals who are arts or commerce
We may have scores of graduates-professional and
non-professional-graduating every year. The dearth of manpower is being felt
across all verticals-hospitality, retail, healthcare, pharma, aviation, and so
on. It is certainly the right time to rethink our education system so that each
student's talent and capabilities are recognized and made productive. I am
sure that there are efforts being made in this direction. But, sadly, they do
not seem to be too visible.
Bright minds that can take India to the very top are there, just
beyond our mind-blocks. These are as important as having nuclear energy.
The auther is Editor-in-Chief of CyberMedia publications