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BW Businessworld

Can Re-skilling Help IT Sector Employees Avoid Layoffs?

NASSCOM has stated that almost half of the sector's workforce needs to be re-skilled to keep up with the technological advancements of the field

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Russian born American author Isaac Asimov wrote, “Any technological advance can be dangerous. Fire was dangerous from the start, and so (even more so) was speech - and both are still dangerous to this day - but human beings would not be human without them.”

This quote has become true for the information technology (IT) sector today, as rapidly advancing technology has led to increasing automation which, in turn, has led to a lesser need for manpower. In an age of rapidly advancing technology, it becomes difficult for employees, especially middle-aged or aged employees, to become adept with the changing scenario.

The new trend of the sector is to layoff older employees as they charge high and are not acquaint with the latest technology and to hire young employees who are cozy with new technology and cost low to the company. This highlights the need for re-skilling in the IT sector.

Aatash Shah, co-founder, and CEO, Edvancer Eduventures Pvt Ltd told BW Businessworld, “A lot of layoffs are primarily happening as the demand for legacy technology is reducing in the IT companies. The IT firms are looking for people who can scale up to newer skill sets like cyber security, cloud computing and so, as there is growth potential in this area.”

“So, it becomes very crucial for existing employees to match steps with the evolving technology to keep themselves relevant. Firstly, they should identify the areas where there is a lot of demand and then learn these new tools over a period of six months because a period longer than that will make them prone to layoff.”


Recently, an IT-BPM industry body, NASSCOM has stated that almost half of the sector's workforce needs to be re-skilled to keep up with the technological advancements of the field.


However, as a contradiction to the news of a slowdown in hiring in the IT sector, NASSCOM asserted that the industry hired around 1, 70,000 new workers in the fiscal year 2016-17. This indicates that the layoffs are not just because of automation but also because of the fact that when the company switches to new technology, many employees fail to adapt to that.


Back in 2011, NASSCOM figured out that only 25 per cent of our engineers are readily employable. The quality of engineering institutions of our country has always been under scanner. Now, with such low skills and fast evolving technology, the situation turns even graver.


According to latest Manpower Report, the will to hire this year has weakened by 28 per cent in the service sector, 26 percent in the manufacturing sector, 24 per cent in finance, insurance, and real estate sector, 18 percent in the transportation and utilities sector and by 17 per cent in the mining and construction sector.


“Looking at shorter duration certification course for re-skilling can actually be a feasible option. However, companies are not at that stage any longer where they can reduce work hours of their employees for learning new skill sets. The employees can give time to these courses on weekends. Further, there are many online courses available which an employee can join to upgrade skill sets,” added Shah.


At such time, one needs to keep Charles Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ theory in mind. Only skills and fast adaptability to rapidly advancing technology can save one’s job, especially in the IT sector.