‘Train to Hire’ - The New Approach to Fulfil Emerging IT Skills Requirements
By Arijit Banerjee
Recently, reports of a Japanese delegation visiting the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) with the objective of recruiting students skilled in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning (DL) set the media ablaze. The fact that they chose India is hardly a surprise. India has more than 3000 engineering colleges and supports more than half the world’s technology outsourcing demands. However, there is a flip-side to this impressive statistic. According to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), more than 60% of the 8 lakh annual Engineering graduates from these colleges remain unemployed.
Multiple factors contribute to this conundrum, including the lack of program standardisation with only 15% being accredited by National Board of Accreditation (NBA), dearth of industry-ready skills, and obsolete curricula that don't cover emerging technologies like machine learning (ML) and AI. Despite the growing demand for automation, more than half of India’s colleges do not offer any new AI related courses. This handicap presents a critical talent challenge for the Indian IT industry.
So, what can the industry do to ensure potential recruits are equipped with cutting edge skills?
Embrace smart collaboration between industry and academia /edtech firms
According to Gartner, in 2018, Indian enterprises are expected to increase their investment in developing enterprise software applications by 19.8% to $2.5 billion. What is driving this upward trend? The emergence of next-gen technologies like IoT, mobile and AI is shifting business focus to digital transformation. This is, in turn, creating an urgent demand for skilled talent. However, reports suggest that there are currently only about 10,000 people worldwide who possess the education, talent and experience to build complex AI platforms.
As a result, organisations have begun to adopt a ‘train-hire-deploy’ approach to recruiting new graduates. Forging partnerships with academia, enterprises are implementing a cost and time efficient recruitment model to take charge of shaping talent and meeting the evolving requirements. Tech giants like Google and Microsoft have partnered with training providers to upskill potential candidates in AI and ML. Intel India, on the other hand, has collaborated with the IT industry and academia to improve accessibility to its ‘AI Developer Education Program’ that offers 60 courses for engineers, scientists, developers and students in India.
Train candidates in emerging technologies to address skills gap
India has the second largest number of developers today and is expected to surpass USA by 2021. Several technology firms are turning their focus on nurturing the significantly sizeable local talent. Rather than limiting their attention to premier engineering institutes like the IITs, these firms are reaching out to the larger audience in local community colleges. For instance, Google is offering incentives to the tune of 1.3 lakh in scholarships to students interested in pursuing learning in emerging technologies.
Online learning platforms are also gaining traction for upskilling and reskilling as they offer programs that are flexible and affordable, backed by curriculum that is designed to meet industry requirements. Companies like Ericsson are encouraging employees to sign up for online reskilling courses from reputed universities in areas such as AI, ML, big data, digital transformation.
The promising prognosis of narrowing skills gap
A recent report by Accenture reveals that India had the potential to add $1 Trillion to its GDP by 2035 through AI technologies. However, the future of India’s role in the world of emerging technologies depends on the collective effort of enterprises, academia and industry bodies in driving skill development and research. Despite the large, growing population of developers in India, the existing skills gap is resulting in a disproportionately small number of innovations and inventions in the technology space today. Sustained industry-academia collaboration can enhance access, flexibility and affordability to up-skilling and re-skilling opportunities, enabling India to innovate and surge ahead in the emerging technology race.