Mid-level IT engineers face re-skilling challenge

VENKATESH GANESH ADITH CHARLIE Mumbai | Updated on January 24, 2018

(from Left) CP Gurnani, MD & CEO, Tec Mahindra, with TK Kurien, CEO, Wipro Ltd, and Neelam Dhawan, MD, Hewlett Packard India, at the Nasscom Leadership Frorum in Mumbai on Thursday. Paul Noronha

Analysts say techies should stay abreast of developments to remain current

The IT industry is excited but worried at the same time over its mid-level engineers, who seem to have lost their coding abilities and have not updated their tech skill sets

On the ground, it looks a fairly straightforward story. The industry grew from $100 million in 1992 to $146 billion last year, touching every aspect of life and throwing up opportunities for millions.

But examine a little closer and there is a huge issue that is dogging the industry, which is evinced by almost all leading tech companies gathered here at the annual Nasscom summit. 

Middle management

The IT industry has problem in the middle management and it needs to figure out a way forward, according to Aruna Jayanthi, CEO of Capgemini India. “If 30 per cent of the engineers don’t reskill themselves they will be redundant,” says Noshir Kaka, MD, McKinsey India. The Indian IT industry, during its growth towards a $100-billion sector, added 3 million people, but will add less than a million people for the next $100 billion in revenues.

Others agree and believe that in a large part, it is due to the pace of growth. “It is the curse of growth and it was bound to happen. The question is how to get around it,” said Sandeep Aggarwal, Chief Marketing Officer of Serco, a UK-headquartered BPO firm.

The problems seem to have come into the limelight after TCS announced its intention of trimming 1-2 per cent of its workforce, which largely includes engineers with upwards of 10 years of experience. Industry watchers believe a lot of this has to do with talent, which has been content with managing teams and not focussed on updating their technology skills.

“There will be a need for people to re-equip themselves, else they will be redundant in the next five years,” says Vikash Jain, Principal at consulting firm BCG.

On their part, employees in large firms point out that companies are not communicating with them on the kind of skills they need to equip themselves with at a time when they are faced with increased project delivery pressures. Some in the industry point out that this is akin to the problem faced in the US manufacturing in the 1980s when automation started taking over a lot of processes.

“You no longer need a manager to manage 500 people,” says Sean Narayanan, Chief Business Officer, LiquidHub, an outsourcing firm. According to Samir Dhir, head of India operations at Virtusa, the hierarchy in large companies prevents mid-level engineers to have direct interaction with clients, which shows up in their work.

Army concept

Companies with thousands of workforce like HCL, however, believe they had seen this coming and taken steps to address this problem. “Hierarchy is an army concept and this is the age of guerrilla warfare scenario, this approach will not work,” says Krishnan Chatterjee, Global marketing head for HCL Tech.

He added HCL works in small teams and does not believe that managing hundreds of people is of any relevance these days.

Published on February 12, 2015

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