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BW Businessworld

Over-hyped?

1% job losses in the IT industry, says Kris Gopalakrishnan

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Job losses in the information technologhy (IT) sector are over-hyped, says Infosys Co-founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan.

“Not many job losses have happened, if we read numbers. It is just media reports that create hype over the IT industry sacking people,” he said, speaking to BW Businessworld at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit in the capital.

Gopalakrishnan said information technology companies were not hiring because they were not growing. “One can attribute job losses to artificial intelligence, robotics, US market but the industry has not lost people more than just one per cent,” he said.

“With four million people employed by the industry, industry’s sacked or lost over 40,000 people.” Gopalakrishnan, who served as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Infosys between June 2007 and August 2011, said there is urgent need to upskill as IT is a fast changing industry. “If employees want to stay secure in the IT industry, they must have a hobby to keep themselves updated with new technologies and skillset,” he said.

According to Nasscom, the IT industry boasts of a high attrition rate of about 15 per cent. “The high attrition rate reflects that people are still switching jobs. If there were no jobs in the industry or there were merciless sacking, then people wouldn’t be getting so many opportunities to switch jobs and swell attrition figures,” he pointed out.

 His views resonate with the perspective of N. R. Narayana Murthy, his fellow Co-founder of IT behemoth, Infosys. Speaking to BW Businessworld in June, Murthy said that the contribution of artificial intelligence, robotics and automation was a very small percentage of revenues generated by IT companies. “Therefore, to blame these technologies for retrenchment is incorrect,” Murthy said.

He also pointed out that the IT market had slowed down across the world. “Hence, we are not in a mode to hire more and more people.” Indian IT biggies, including Infosys, TCS and Wipro, announced a cut in their workforce count in the June quarter. A majority of these companies have claimed that the reduced workforce is because of automation and digitisation which may result in a few more job losses. Last year, for the first time in over two decades, Wipro and HCL Technologies reported a net decline in direct hiring.

Murthy, known as the father of the Indian IT industry, also stressed on re-skilling and upskilling employees. “We operate in an industry where the only constant is change. Everything changes in our industry as we go from country to country, culture to culture, technology to technology and application to application,” he said.

 — Himani Chandna