Taking four lakh people back to the classroom isn’t an easy task, even for a cash-rich company like Tata Consultancy Services, the $100-billion (market cap) IT services company.

Is it easier for TCS to hire skilled workforce from the outside? Not really. The skills required are not to be found. So, TCS embarked on its reskilling journey a few years ago, where it decided to train its entire workforce. More than 2,40,000 have already been trained.

In the Mysuru campus of Infosys, trainees have to go through a six-month training programme which includes studying of three programming languages, instead of one earlier. Additionally, courses on analytics and cloud computing are taught. According to Infosys COO UB Pravin Rao, the company is looking to replicate this training model in the US.

“Unless we make sure our people have the technical capabilities, we will not be able to serve our customers. Moreover, it isn’t viable to rehire and let go of existing people,” Ajoy Mukherjee, Chief HR Officer at TCS, told BusinessLine. However, the unanswered issue is the extent to which the industry will sustain investments in reskilling at a time of shrinking margins. According to Mukherjee, even if it were possible to hire enough talent from outside, it would be hard to replicate customer relationships, organisation-fit and the industry knowledge base that existing employees have.

Capgemini is taking a ‘going back to basics’ approach to retrain its workforce. “Compared to what is traditionally done, digital services (or the gamut of new skills needed) create a very different skill requirement as well as different ways of working,” says Ashwin Yardi, COO-India, Capgemini.



Tackling cost

Companies also provide training through internal online portals and mobile apps that make it easier to train at low cost.

“We track the competency of individuals at 4 levels — E0 to E3. Based on that, we expose them to the new technology. With four lakh people, classroom training for everyone is not possible and learning has to use digital technologies. Our virtual classrooms offer gamified learning. From this platform, you should be able to log into a server where you can solve problems by actually developing code on newer technologies,” says Mukherjee.

IBM has created a massive open online course platform for its one-lakh odd employees in India. “It has broken down learning into byte size. Most people have day jobs, so time becomes an issue. So with byte size modules, they can learn at their pace,” says Chaitanya N Sreenivas, Vice-President & HR Head, at IBM India/South Asia.

Companies such as TCS are open to hiring professionals with any educational background, provided they’ve spent time in new technology areas. Google, Amazon and IBM often don’t stress academic credentials either; proficiency in coding, and in areas where skills are in short supply, holds the key.