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Pranjal Sharma

Pranjal Sharma has been analysing, commenting and writing on economic and development policy in India for 25 years. He has worked in print, TV and digital media in leadership positions and guided teams to interpret economic change and India’s engagement with the world

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Growing With New Skills

WEF and global tech cos prepare for an expanding technology market in countries like India

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India will be at the forefront on investment in technologies and has emerged as a high growth market for global players. "We look at India as a massive growth market. Its growth potential is accelerating," Martin Mackay, President Asia Pacific of CA Technologies told me in a conversation at Davos. The $4 billion technology company is shifting gears as it expands its presence in Asia with special focus on India. CA Technologies has been working with large public sector companies like State Bank of India and now is excited about the focus on tech-led governance in India. "Delivering citizen services on technology platforms is an impressive policy move in India," Mackay said. "We are partners for smart city projects in India."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited global companies at Davos to participate in the opportunities being created by Digital India programme. Companies like CA Technologies are eagerly investing in these opportunities. "The perception of India has improved sharply in the last few years," Mackay said. CA Technologies largest R&D operation with over 2,000 employees is the India Technology Centre (ITC) in Hyderabad, India, which opened in October 2007. The US$60 million campus has a footprint of about 450,000 square feet. CA has another development centre in Bangalore with about 300 employees.

The challenges being faced by companies across the world are similar. All of them have to transition to new business platforms to create digital and cloud based organisations. Mackay says that winning organisations are using more automation, are agile and use data science for deeper consumer insights.

However this transition comes at the cost of disruptions in labour market. Higher levels of automation require reskilling for professionals and workers. CA Technologies has joined an effort to help reskill professionals.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has created a collaborative framework for reskilling as digital transformations occur in global industries.

WEF launched the IT Industry Skills Initiative at Davos "to meet the global skills gap challenge and address job displacement arising out of automation and the fourth industrial revolution."

This initiative hopes to skill about 1 million people by 2021. The initiative was conceived by the Forum's IT Governors community under the chairmanship of Chuck Robbins, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco. The founding partners are Accenture, CA Technologies, Cisco, Cognizant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Infosys, Pegasystems, PwC, Salesforce, SAP and Tata Consultancy Services, says WEF.

"We need responsive solutions and coordination from all parts of society - governments, citizens and private industry alike - to re-envision an educational system based on lifelong learning that can fully prepare workers for the jobs of the future," said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum. "This initiative is a clear example of industry leaders taking concerted, collective action to address a major social challenge at scale."

Mackay feels the same about reskilling and preparing for the disruptions. Corporate leadership will require clarity in its vision to ensure that digital transformation takes place in a responsible and sustainable manner. This vision would have to include responsive steps like reskilling even as automation increases.

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