With the domestic IT industry staring at a shift in nature of work due to increasing use of digital technologies, a leading firm has said a majority of the workforce cannot imbibe the required emerging skill-sets, and warned of high job losses at the middle and senior levels.

“I am not very pessimistic, but it is a challenging task and I tend to believe that 60-65 per cent of them are just not trainable,” Capgemini India’s Chief Executive Officer Srinivas Kandula said here over the weekend.

The domestic arm of the French IT major employs nearly 1 lakh engineers in the country.

“A large number of them cannot be trained. Probably, India will witness the largest unemployment in the middle-to-senior level,” he said at the annual Nasscom leadership summit.

Workforce quality

He also flagged concerns surrounding the quality of IT workforce, saying much of the 3.9 million IT employees come from low-grade engineering colleges which do not follow rigorous grading patterns for students in their zeal to maintain good records.

The remarks come days after the industry lobby, Nasscom, said there is a need to re-train up to 1.5 million, or nearly half of its sectoral workforce. This is primarily on the back of a change in nature of work in newer, digital technologies.

Kandula said the industry, driven by yield-seeking investors, has not invested enough to upgrade the skill-sets of its employees.

Negative wage rise

He also said more number of students are now being hired from lower-grade engineering colleges, which has ensured that the rise in wages has been negative by a huge margin. Kandula said, as against offers of ₹2.25 lakh per annum that used to go out for freshers two decades ago, they have risen only to ₹3.5 lakh now, which suggests a massive decrease in real wages from an inflation-adjusted perspective.

“For some unknown reasons, we call it a knowledge-driven industry. If you have that kind of talent, making them learn the existing technology itself is such a huge challenge,” he said.

The quality of the students coming in is so bad that many of them are unable to answer questions on subjects taught to them even in the final semester of their engineering courses, he said.

The critical remarks come months after a study found out that as much as 80 per cent of engineering graduates are unemployable.