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BW Businessworld

'Jobs Are Being Created But Their Nature Has Changed'

80 percent of engineering graduates were unemployable and only 3 percent had suitable skills to be employed in software or product market

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A major segment of graduates remain unemployable - according to a Report, 80 percent of engineering graduates were unemployable and only 3 percent had suitable skills to be employed in software or product market.

Talking to BW Businessworld, Ravikumar Sreedharan, Managing Director, Unisys India and Head of Global Delivery Network, Unisys puts across his viewpoints about apprenticeships, skilling and assessment of students making them job ready.  

Job creation has been an issue lately. What has been lacking in the market, is it the number of jobs or the lacking skills in employees?

The IT sector in India received the billing of being a sunrise sector for many years as it witnessed robust growth and generated vast employment opportunities. However, it is not that jobs are not being created. The nature of jobs being created today is very different from those being created five years ago. Disruptive technologies such as machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence have transformed the way business is conducted and as a result, they have also transformed the expectations from the workforce. Young and aspiring IT professionals today need to acquire skills relating to these new disruptive technologies if they wish to be market-ready and future-ready.

How important is apprenticeship in line with gaining relevant skills for the job?

Apprenticeships and internships are crucial for gaining practical and deployable skills for any job. The curriculum taught at most educational institutes in many cases does not help students adapt to the changing needs of the industry. An apprenticeship gives tertiary students the opportunity to apply what they have learnt, solve real life challenges and fill the gaps in their learning to become adept at their future roles.

What sectors are most affected by the skill gap in employees?

Some of the sectors most affected by the skill gap in employees include big data analytics, cloud services, IoT, service delivery automation, robotics, AI, ML, deep learning and natural language processing. There are also studies that highlight the major gap in the field of cyber security talent. This gap leaves entities across the industry more vulnerable leading to an urgent and crucial need to fill this gap. However, it should be borne in mind that these sectors also offer great promise as future job creators.

What is the training and assessment process of Cloud 20/20 after the skilling program?

Cloud 20/20 aims to provide a platform to offer innovative ideas around disruptive technology trends. It is open to research students, post-graduates as well as pre-final and final year engineering students in Computer Science, Information Technology, and other related fields. Students can submit project ideas in broad technical areas as per the contest guidelines. These ideas will be evaluated by Unisys, and based on the innovation/merit of the idea, it may be selected for the next round, where students will work on their project ideas under the guidance of Unisys mentors, and demonstrate it to win the grand prize.

Only around 50% people skilled through NSDC got selected for certain jobs. How do you ensure people skilled through Cloud 20/20 are job ready?

Cloud 20/20 focuses on real-world problems and finding solutions to them. During the course of the hands-on project, Unisys assigns mentors to the student contestants and helps them identify issues and resolve them using technology. These mentors are selected and assigned based on their area of expertise and skills. Additionally, there are co-mentors assigned, who go on to become mentors in the coming year.

The outcome of this exercise can lead to internships or positions with Unisys and may even be patentable. Additionally, the title of the Cloud 20/20 winner or finalist adds to the credibility of the students and those who do not make it to the final round still gain invaluable experience which goes beyond textbooks and classroom projects.

How has recruitment policies changed with new skills coming up in demand?

Skills today have a ‘best-before’ date. Because skills have a shelf life, constant re-skilling is the need of the hour. As business leaders begin to consider proactive adaptation to the new talent landscape, they need to manage skills disruption as an urgent concern. What this requires is an HR function that is rapidly becoming more strategic and one that employs new kinds of tools to spot talent trends and skills gaps, and provides insights that can help organizations align their business, innovation and talent management strategies to maximize available opportunities to capitalize on transformational trends.

Businesses increasingly connect and collaborate remotely with freelancers and independent professionals through digital talent platforms. Modern forms of association such as digital freelancers’ unions and updated labour market regulations will increasingly begin to emerge to complement these new organizational models. The combination of these two factors demands that recruitment policies become more flexible in light of skill disruption and the gig economy.