For the country to be in the forefront of IT, the industry requires candidates who know the fundamentals and are also capable of communicating and applying them.
India will need a 2.3 million-strong IT and BPO workforce by 2010 to maintain its current market share, reported the NASSCOM-McKinsey Report on Extending India’s Leadership of the Global IT and BPO Industries, published in 2005. Their supply projections for 2010 showed that there will be a shortfall of nearly 0.5 million qualified employees.
The gap exists not only because there are lesser number of qualified professionals, but also because many of those who are qualified are found unsuitable. “Currently only about 25 per cent of technical graduates and 10 - 15 per cent of general college graduates are suitable for employment in the offshore IT and BPO industries respectively,” the report states.
What causes this mismatch between what the industry wants and what candidates have to offer?
Fundamentals are important, says Sandhya Chintala, Director of the Education Initiative of NASSCOM. Programming concepts like data structures and RDBMS are essential for any field, be it IT, electrical or civil as technology is used everywhere.
To go up the value chain, you also need to know how to apply those fundamentals. There is a difference between knowing something and how to use it, says Ms. Chintala.
You should know your fundamentals, but unless you are able to communicate that, you are in trouble, remarks Viswanathan Venkatasubramanian, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition from Wipro Technologies.
Though the scenario has improved in the past 3 - 4 years thanks to initiatives taken up by educational institutions, he says that communication continues to remain a challenge for companies. Especially in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, oral communication continues to be an issue. Not pausing in the right places and lapsing into mother-tongue are some problems, Ms. Chintala has encountered on a frequent basis.
During the course of working with the industry and educational institutions for NASSCOM’s Education Initiative, she found that even written communication skills of many students are poor. The language is loose and sometimes slips into slang, she says.
For BPO placements, people are asked to introduce themselves, and they are rejected on the spot if they cannot do so in English, says A. Saravanan. He is the Director of Transtaff Solutions, a firm that arranges recruitment for major IT/BPO firms by coordinating with educational institutions. Voice and a neutral accent are mandatory for BPO firms. Apart from that, willingness to work in night shifts is required, he adds.
Soft skills, which are neglected today, should be given importance, stresses Ms. Chintala. A student wore casuals to an interview and it was considered to be an affront to the firm. The interviewer felt that the student did not take his firm seriously enough and that is why did not bother to dress properly.
Another student walked into an interview with a folded resume. A neatly filed resume would have done wonders to the student’s chances of landing that job, Ms. Chintala recounts. Students do not seem to realise that everything they do translates to what they are.
Fresh graduates are sure that they want to join “some XYZ company.” If you ask why, they have no idea, says Shubha Sharma, Manager, Corporate Sales in Naukri.com. There is a lack of awareness among students; instead of choosing a job they choose a brand.
She adds that students should know about all the companies in their field and make a choice. Instead, due to peer pressure and a fascination for brands, they do not make an informed decision. Questions like what will this company offer me, why should I choose this particular company are not answered at all.
These are some of the gaps people closely involved in the process of recruitment feel need to be addressed.
In a series of articles in the following weeks, we will address all aspects of recruitment in detail and try to answer the question — What you need to get into the IT industry.