Why mid-rung IT staff must get cracking at code

VARUNAGGARWAL PRIYANKAPANI Mumbai | Updated on January 27, 2018


Companies want them to learn new tech skills, not just manage people

If you’re a team leader or a manager in an Indian IT services company and you’ve forgotten how to code, re-enter the classroom or you may not have a job very soon.

Take the case of Sunil Srinivasan, a senior solutions consultant at a leading IT services company in India. The 38-year-old manager is worried that if he doesn’t teach himself new technical skills, he may soon be jobless. Srinivasan’s taken on four online courses, including the Cisco Certified Network Professional course.

The technological shift towards analytics, automation, cloud and the like has created a vacuum of talent on the one hand, and a large workforce with obsolete skills on the other. Organisations are, therefore, looking for multi-skilled employees for a particular tech job role.

“Given the scale of job losses we see today, it is important to re-skill yourself, as it all boils down to the survival of the fittest,” he says.

Srinivasan’s fear is not unfounded. IT companies are nudging their layers of middle management professionals to learn technical skills to remain relevant.

Although no overt warnings have been issued, the smarter ones are reading between the lines and getting the message: shape up, or ship out.

“What we are trying to do is to nudge them into taking roles that are non-managerial, because there are only so many managerial roles that we [can] have,” says Sucharita Palepu, Global Head (People Practices) at Tech Mahindra. Last year, the company introduced a programme for managers to return to coding.

Similarly, a TCS app tells its employees if their skills are relevant, while it downgrades them with time unless they reskill. “Technologists need to be generalists. We want people to learn a wide set of skills while specialising in one or two,” says Ashok Krish, Head, Workplace Re-imagination Practice, TCS.

“Today, a technologist needs to know how to design a UI (user interface); how to code the UI; how to build the back-end; and how to put it on cloud. This is the bare minimum. Five years ago, there would be someone doing only coding, or only back-end, or only UI design. Not any more,” he says.

Over the last few years, several online training companies such as Simplilearn, Coursera, have sprung up to cater to the reskilling demand, which many companies are not able to fulfil internally. “The biggest impact would be felt in the middle level, where people are not engaged in hardcore IT roles any more, but are managing people. The skills they learnt belong to a time when processes and skills were not mature; now automation is leading the way,” says Vikalp Jain, whose Acadguild works with several IT companies to reskill employees.

Published on June 14, 2017

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