Ambassador Meera Shankar urges Indian IT companies to move up in skills

Ambassador Meera Shankar urges Indian IT companies to move up in skills


Ambassador Meera Shankar urges Indian IT companies to move up in skills


New Delhi :The protectionist policies followed by the US and other advanced countries plus the emergence of ever new technologies had brought up 'reskilling' as the new mantra for the Indian IT professionals and the industry. Former Indian ambassador to US Meera Shankar has cautioned the Indian IT companies against being satisfied with providing low end jobs in the global market. Her warning follows that of Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian who has also expressed great concern over the proposed legislation on the popular visa regime aimed at putting a curb on American companies outsourcing jobs to India. 'If there are serious actions taken it’s something going to kind of worry us a lot because remember that our exports of services are about 40 to 45 per cent of the total exports,' Mr Subramaniam said at an event in the US recently. Ms Shankar, taking part in a panel discussion on Indian diplomacy this week here said the H1 B visa on which skilled India IT professionals were hired was proposed to drastically regulated by the Trump administration, and that happened Indian companies would be in trouble. 'However, the US policies are forcing us to come from the comfort zone of providing low end jobs,' Ms Shankar said. She said disruption was also taking place because of the rapid change in technologies, and for that too Indian companies would have to adapt themselves. A legislation pending before the US Congress if passed would lead to sharp wage rise for skilled workers wishing to come to the US under H1B visa, of which the biggest users were Indian IT companies. The chief economic adviser during his US event pointed out to questioners that 50 to 60 per cent of all India’s exports of services went to the US, and anything that was going to interfere with export growth would create anxiety in India. Media reports last week of IT companies planning 56000 lay offs created a panic wave in the sector across the country, prompting NASSCOM to come out with strong denial. However while disputing the numbers,they could not deny that layoffs were taking place. Though the industry leaders pointed out that in financial year 2017, the industry added 1,70,000 new jobs (600,000 in last three years) and today boasted of a total employee base of 3.9 mn (95-100 K in start-ups and 50-60 K in e-Commerce), they admitted that there were some causes for concerns. They dismissed the suggestion that automation was leading to job loss, and maintained that rather than reducing employment, it was creating many new opportunities, but they pointed out that today many new job domains such as cyber security, mobile app development, new user interfaces, social media, data scientists, platform engineering were evolving for which a new breed of domain experts was needed. NASSCOM chairman Raman Roy said Indian IT companies have to move from scale to skill. Today a large part of the 3.85 million people employed by the IT and BPO companies have to be retrained, and that was a big project in which the industry has to partner with both government and the academia.

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