‘About 25% of 5 mn Indian tech force facing existential crisis’

They are in the 40-45 age bracket, possess generic skills: experts

Published - October 27, 2020 10:49 pm IST - Bengaluru

Visakhapatnam , Andhra Pradesh : 15/10/2020: People working from home during the Covid 19 Pandemic in Visakhapatnam on Thursday, October 15, 2020.
Photo : K.R. Deepak / The Hindu

Visakhapatnam , Andhra Pradesh : 15/10/2020: People working from home during the Covid 19 Pandemic in Visakhapatnam on Thursday, October 15, 2020. Photo : K.R. Deepak / The Hindu

About 25% of the country’s five million tech force falls under the ‘bulging middle’, who are in the age bracket of 40-45. Close to 30% of this generation, which works between the younger lot and the top management, are perennial job seekers, according to industry experts.

This means over 3.5 lakh CVs of mid-to-senior professionals are floating around in the job market and a large portion of these professionals possess only ‘generic, commodity skills’.

This ‘sandwiched generation’, therefore, faces an existential crisis as it finds it tough to align with the new realities, caution industry watchers.

For those above 40, who are not engineers from top institutions like the IITs, NITs, BITS Pilani, or are unemployed, career progression will be tough. Also, director-level openings at tech firms remain cold as employers are reworking the talent pyramid to fit into changing customer requirements, according to Xpheno, a city firm specialising in staffing.

Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO at Everest Group, observes, “I see significant disruptions to the existing operating model which relies on large India-based talent factories. The model will have greater onshoring and the skillsets needed will evolve from traditional customer-facing to hardcore engineering with more industry and domain focus.”

Customers today want their service partners to bring in capabilities ranging from cloud engineering, to AI and data science. Also, creative skills around design thinking, story-telling, robotic process automation, mobility, data science, machine learning, data analytics, applied mathematics, ethnography, user interface, and communication will be most sought-after.

Hansa Iyengar, Principal Analyst - Digital Enterprise Services, Omdia, a London-based analyst firm, says, the pandemic is forcing rapid advancements across verticals as businesses accelerate digital transformation. Tech services vendors need to transform their internal processes and organisational structures for a business to move at customers’ desired speeds.

“This requires a rethink on how companies attract, train and retain people. We are seeing large-scale retraining and re-skilling targeting the middle-layer bulge most at risk of redundancy as digital takes the pilot seat,” points out Hansa.

Explaining the mid-work crisis further is Some of these mid-senior guys have been working on integration, processing of information, quality checks, analyses, bug clearing, etc.

“Today, developers are equipped to do full-stack development. Also, release cycles have fallen to a day from 3/4 months. Tools have changed too, now customers pick up tools [like Jira] for solutions,” said Krishnakumar Natarajan, Mindtree’s co-founder, and managing partner, Mela Ventures.

“Because of this scenario, many senior people doing information collation are losing jobs. Some started as developers, but as they grew they lost touch with technology. A majority are trying to catch up by learning new skills, but a sizeable number are finding it tough to pick up new skills and will become irrelevant,” he added.

B.S. Murthy, CEO of Leadership Capital, a CXO hiring firm in Bengaluru said, the biggest casualty of the digital transformation are professionals above 45, with 80% of them out of sync with hardcore technology.

He added, “Professionals who drive process-related middle management will see their roles automated. It is the generic project management, programme and delivery management roles that face extinction as these are commodity skills today.”

Commenting on the latest hiring trends, Kamal Karanth, co-founder, Xpheno, said: “There is a slowdown in active openings for director level and above positions as employers are currently working on changing the shape of their people pyramid. The active openings for senior managers are still 30% of pre-COVID-19 levels and hiring in this category is yet to pick up.”

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