Economy

Talent requirement is changing very rapidly: Nasscom President

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on November 18, 2020 Published on November 18, 2020

Re-skilling employees has become important as there is a big gap between the skills we have so far learned and what the companies need for success: Debjani Ghosh

The President of the National Association for Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), Debjani Ghosh, who has been involved in lot of programmes on skill development with various instituions and the government, claims that India has the potential to become a talent hub. In an interview with BusinessLine, Ghosh also talks about the implications of US presidential elections on the Indian IT industry. Excerpts:

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What will be the implications of the US presidential elections on Indian IT industry?

The US election is still playing out so let us wait and see. From India’s point of view, we should focus on the quality of talent that India produces. We often forget this in all this discussion about immigration and visas. It’s all about talent and talent mobility.

The US does not have the talent needed by its own companies to fuel the innovation to sustain it as leader in innovation. There is enough research done by US agencies and universities that shows that there is a huge gap between talent and jobs availability.

If you look at the H1B visa trends over the years, Indian IT companies have significantly reduced their take of it. More than 90 per cent of the visas are actually being taken by multi-national companies who require the talent for the work that they need to do. There is a strong co-relation between companies that take maximum number of visas and companies that spend most on R&D. As long as we continue to build our competitive advantage in digital talent and strengthen India’s capabilities and talent availability, the need for our talent is going to stay.

Whether the work is done in the US or somewhere else, companies will need talent. We have a strong maths and science foundation that has given us the advantage till now. But, the talent requirement is changing very rapidly.

The pandemic has brought changes across the segments, including technology. How do you think it will shape the future of tech and of work?

While a lot is unknown about the pandemic there are also a lot of things that have become more clear now. One of them is the role of technology in our lives.

Imagine working or studying from home if you didn’t have access to technology. Also the pandemic has made it evident that future is going to stay hyper digital and largely contactless. Technology will play a much larger role across different verticals - from manufacturing to logistics to healthcare, education and many more. People are trying to figure out what should be the playbook for this new norm, what should change, and as they are figuring out what needs to change, the role of automation is now getting integrated 360 degrees into the business model.

So when technology is going to play such a disruptive role, you have to think a lot in terms of the skills required that will give you the ability to use technology to do what you need to do. What companies need to focus on is really finding people who can unlearn and learn very fast. Because no matter what the colleges or schools teach them, they are not going to know everything or they are not going to require skills for success in the future because the skills are changing constantly.

So how do you see remote working bringing more diversity in the workforce?

One side of argument is that not just women, even people with disabilities, who could not participate fully in the workforce because of the challenges involved with commuting and spending time outside home, will now have the ability to participate much more because they are at home.

The other side of the argument is that it is actually having a worse impact on women, because both women and men are working from home. The men are only working from home, and therefore the entire responsibility of running the home and taking care of the family is falling on the woman. And that to me, is grossly unfair, because she too has a career and she needs the time to focus on it too. And, I think this is where we need to see a change in culture/ mindset, where both parties, irrespective of the gender realise that working from home is not just working from home, but working for home.

What kind of hiring do we see in the coming days, especially with this pandemic?

Data have already shown that IT companies are net employers. They are all hiring and they are not just meeting their commitments they made in colleges, at least the big companies, they’re bringing in new people.

Companies are now hiring data analytics and data scientists. So employability will go up if you’re focussed on some of these new emerging tech areas. I think hiring will happen more because the pandemic is creating more opportunities for the industry. But if you rely on the old skills to get a job, there is a problem because there is a big gap between the skills we have so far learned and what the companies need for success. So reskilling becomes extremely important.

It is often questioned why we don't have an Amazon or a Google or a Yahoo from India. What do you think?

We need to change our mindset now. Let’s aim for companies that can be revolutionary in the new normal. Let us start looking at what are some of the big problems that the pandemic is throwing at us and therefore we can be the first in solving some of these problems.

One of the areas I am excited about is natural language processing (NLP). I believe that computing has to become so intuitive that the keyboard or text should not become a burden anymore, especially as you reach out to the next billion (Internet users). You should be able to speak to your device, and get it to do whatever you want in your own language, without having to learn English.

I think there is so much possibilities with respect to technologies like NLP and mixed reality. India has a lot of big/ unique problems and let us aim to identify them. And if we solve for India, we will solve for the world. The worst thing we do is keep telling our start-ups to be like XYZ. My advice to the start-ups is, ‘please identify a problem that no one else has identified, and figure out how you can be the best in solving it’.

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Published on November 18, 2020
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