India has a challenge of being fully ready for 5G as well as for other emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning owing to the imbalance in talent and needs of the industry, suggested Raghav Gupta, director – India & APAC at Coursera, an American online learning platform.
“We work with Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications and from their feedback we know there are definitely gaps in terms of the current skillsets of employees and the needs of the industry. Globally as well as in India, telecom industry is actively focussing on reskilling employees in technology and data science topics,” added Gupta.
40% of India’s total workforce has to be re-skilled over the next five years to cope with emerging trends like AI, IoT, machine learning and blockchainNASSCOM
40% of India’s total workforce has to be re-skilled over the next five years to cope with emerging trends like AI, IoT, machine learning and blockchain, IT industry body Nasscom mentioned to ET. Organizations are in need of digitally-educated professionals who are also well-possessed of the skill which is needed for business strategy, as per the industry body.
Indian companies are majorly pushing to develop their people’s skills in domains like computer networking which includes cloud, IoT and blockchain since currently there is gap in skills for emerging technologies, Coursera’s Gupta shared.
The pace of innovation in the telecom industry needs to be matched, which can only be achieved through reskillingTelecom Sector Skill Council
“The pace of innovation in the telecom industry needs to be matched, which can only be achieved through reskilling. There should also be a net shift to newer forms from the outmoded technology. An imbalance is created if there is no coherence between the two, leading to loss in the long run,” a spokesperson from Telecom Sector Skill Council (TTSC) told ET.
According to Nasscom, India is steadily working to become a pool of market-ready talent for the world at large and not just for domestic needs. India has approximately 600,000 digitally skilled workforce that accounts for USD 33 billion in revenue growing at about 30% year-over-year.
The speed at which there are new technologies and innovation happening in the industry outmodes knowledge and skill very easily, therefore it is important to keep up with the pace of innovation. Telcos in India need to especially build skill for their workforce in areas like data visualization, statistical programming and machine learning, the industry representatives suggest.
Financially, companies may face losses in the short run as updating to new technology and the process of reskilling will have its costs. It is, however, more sustainable for the future and longevity of the company in the industry, according to TSSC.
How telcos, tech companies are reskilling for 5G
For reskilling purposes, a lot of internal trainings are happening, Bharti Airtel for example has a training program on 5G wherein the company runs a month long training session in phases and periods, a person familiar with the program told ET.
As part of these programs, external consultants, startup leaders or freelancers from US come to conduct the training sessions.
Airtel could not respond to ETTelecom’s queries by the time of publishing the story.
Ashwinder Sethi, principal, consulting at Analysys Mason explained – to build the 5G networks, the existing employees may not have the required skillsets. To address this, many global operators are taking support of consultants who are experts.
The support from the consultants is two-fold; the first one being training and making employees aware on what they need to do. Secondly, the consultants may be asked to assist the employees in driving the transformation.
“On the commercial side of 5G, use cases are not very defined at the moment, as a result, monetization aspects of 5G need to be explored. One of the major skillsets required on the 5G front is to identify business cases of the 5G use cases,” told Sethi.
Most of the hiring and reskilling is happening on the digital front as telcos (especially Airtel and Jio) are increasing their focus on their digital portfoliosAshwinder Sethi, Analysys Mason
He added that a lot of focus is now on hiring in new areas. However, operators have refrained from hiring new people on the network side, they’re mostly outsourcing. Also, most of the hiring and reskilling is happening on the digital front as telcos (especially Airtel and Jio) are increasing their focus on their digital portfolios.
“Usually telcos hire someone at the top level – someone who has come externally and worked in a more developed market like US, Europe. This person is then given the responsibility of leading the transformation which includes reskillng and upskilling,” Sethi said. At the lower levels, however, it’s a mix of reskilling and fresh hiring.
Meanwhile, IT major Tech Mahindra which has a major focus on 5G told ET that it is investing heavily in reskilling employees in next generation technologies. “We’ve trained 70% of our workforce in digital and future skills,” said Manish Vyas, president of communications business and CEO of network services, Tech Mahindra.
How academia can fill the skill-gap
The quality of talent coming from the higher education in India across sectors can be a challenge. A lot of graduates are not ready for careers and are not necessarily employable, according to the Coursera executive. “..not enough students are coming out from the Indian higher education with the in-demand skills, for technologies like 5G.”
Not enough students are coming out from the Indian higher education with the in-demand skills, for technologies like 5GRaghav Gupta, Coursera
“For the big industries, like telecom, majority of companies end up investing a lot of money and time in training people who come and join them. I don’t think the telecom sector has been served fully by the talent that is coming from the higher education,” he added.
According to TSSC, there needs to be a fine balance established at the educational level for youth studying in the telecom field. The same balance should be established for the vocational learners and in the process of reskilling.
Hiring models are changing globally and telecom industry is no exception. Keeping this scenario in mind, students and education institutes also need to evolve to align to the needs of the industry, Nasscom noted.
India’s education system both at school and university levels should be in sync with the needs of modern businesses, the IT industry body stated.