Honing talent is a great responsibility of the telecom industry leaders in today’s fast evolving technology. CP Gurnani, MD and CEO, Tech Mahindra shares is views. Excerpts
Voice & Data: As India gears up for 5G, broadband for all, IoT, and a host of new telecom business and technology models, what are the key competencies that telecom professionals should possess?
CP Gurnani: To say the least, it will have a massive economic spill-over. In the next few years, close to $582bn is at the table to be earned by the telcos across the globe, incremental, due to 5G. But, at the same time, the media industry, healthcare industry, etc., will churn more than $100+bn each; and, a number upward of $200bn is being projected for the manufacturing industry as well. To realise these mammoth numbers, the various industries will undergo immense innovation. They will have to re-invent, re-design and repeat.
The healthcare industry will execute surgeries remotely like never before. The manufacturing industry, with its superfast robots and analytics in operation, will bank upon 5G networks to realize some of its most sophisticated use cases. The media industry, the E-sports industry (an industry that hardly shakes numbers today), will come into prominence with a variety of personalized, customized, AR-VR enabled, content consumption models.
In short, we are in for a whirlwind of innovation across tech, processes and business models. Yes, the consumer will be the ultimate winner. But, the enterprises and the telcos are both in the race for pole position! 5G will be significantly different in the impact it will create, unlike the previous generations of networks, humanity has seen yet.
Voice & Data: What role can a company like yours play in building the right telecom talent pool for India?
CP Gurnani: The emergence of new age technologies, like 5G, blockchain, robotic process automation (RPA), cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality and virtual reality, have led to the disruption of IT and digital sectors globally and opened several new opportunities in the industry. Organizations are looking at aligning people, processes, systems, applications and tools to this new world, where connected products and services are at the epicenter of continuous digital transformation. At Tech Mahindra, disruption lies at the core of our business.
As part of the TechMNxt charter, we are betting big on the next generation technologies like 5G, blockchain, cybersecurity, AI, ML, RPA, AR and VR. We are also heavily investing in re-skilling our employees in these technologies. We have launched the biggest man-machine collaboration in the history of Tech Mahindra, viz., Botify.
The objective of the campaign is to educate, empower, and enable all of its associates on cutting-edge technologies like AI, ML, chatbots, RPA, natural language processing, and related platforms on products.
Voice & Data: What are the big challenges that you see today when you want to hire professionals who can build next-gen telecom networks, products and services?
CP Gurnani: The acute shortage of skills is a recurring theme in every sector, industry and profession in India, and globally, including the IT industry. New age digital technologies are disrupting the business landscape, and impacting the structure of industries and economic activity. As a result, attracting and retaining talent with digital skillsets is a challenge for organisations.
We understand that today’s disruptive business landscape demands a future ready talent pool; and our prime responsibility there is a great deal of focus on re-skilling and re-training our employees. Following are some of the skill upgradation programs offered by Tech Maindra –
Talex: ‘job bidding’ process to energize our internal pool movement. To address the skill gap in the industry, Tech Mahindra, is focused on re-skilling and nurturing the talent internally, as well as hiring professionals in niche technologies.
Tech Mahindra Foundation “SMART” Programme For Employability: The Tech Mahindra Foundation is the corporate social responsibility arm for Tech Mahindra. Established in 2007, under Section 25 of the Companies Act (now Section 8), it is today active in 12 cities across India. The Foundation works in three key verticals, e.g., education, skill development and disability.
SMART (Skills for Market Training) is Tech Mahindra Foundation’s flagship employability programme, which is built on the vision of an educated, enlightened and employed India and a belief that educated and skilled youth are the country’s true strength.
- The programme started with 3 Centres in 2012 and is currently running 100 centres providing skill development in 11 cities across India.
- These include SMART Centres, SMART+ Centres (training for people with disabilities), SMART-T Centres (training in technical trades) and the SMART Academy.
- SMART has successfully trained over 40,000 young men and women, with a placement rate of over 70% thanks to its robust processes ensuring that quality is never compromised, and its industry-led approach to skilling.
- Youth from disadvantaged urban communities and in immediate need of jobs are the beneficiary group of SMART.
- The training starts with a Foundation course comprising of Spoken English, Workplace Readiness and Basic IT/Computers. It offers a range of specialized courses, including Customer Relationships and Sales, Hospitality, IT-enabled Services and BPO, Lab Assistant, Multimedia, Nurse Aides, Office Administration, Pharmacy Assistant, Quick Service Restaurants and Tally.
- In addition, the SMART-T offers training in technical trades like Automobile Technician, Civil Works, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) Machine Technician, AC and Refrigeration, Electrician, Fitter and Maintenance Technician and Welding..
Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare, New Delhi and Mohali: Launched in May 2016, the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for Healthcare is a state-of-the-art paramedical training institute in New Delhi, established as a CSR initiative of the Tech Mahindra Foundation.
- It aims at creating a cadre of well qualified, trained healthcare professionals by providing high-quality innovative and interactive training to young men and women.
- The Academy trains professionals through a number of paramedical diploma courses and certificate courses. The well-equipped laboratories, highly qualified healthcare professionals, on-job trainings in leading hospitals, along with an array of extra-curricular activities among verdant greenery, have created a world class institution.
- Provide placements to its students at various reputed hospitals.
Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for IT & Logistics, Vishakhapatnam: Launched in July 2017, the Tech Mahindra SMART Academy for IT & Logistics at Vishakhapatnam is a state-of the-art IT and Logistics training Institute.
- The institute is set up by Tech Mahindra Foundation, the CSR wing of Tech Mahindra Ltd with a mission to create a cadre of well qualified trained professionals to meet the demand of the IT and Logistics sectors.
- The SMART Campus in Visakhapatnam has a complete training centre on par with corporate work environment. The Academy is fully equipped with the latest software and highly qualified industry experts from IT and Logistics sector.
Additional attention is paid to developing soft skills, spoken English and personality development
training and on job training. We also assure placement assistance with a dedicated placement team, which ensures that each student graduating from the Academy receives support in finding a job.
Voice & Data: What would be your advice to the educational institutes, where the foundations of aspiring telecom professionals are laid?
CP Gurnani: The primary objective is to create a digital skilling platform to reskill and upskill fresh as well as existing talent.Engineering students should be provided with hands-on training to better prepare them for real-world situations. States should institute quality benchmarks for engineering colleges. The government also, should drive more initiatives like Make in India and Startup India, to boost employment avenues for engineers in the country.
Voice & Data: What role and support from the Government will help the industry and the academia to speed up quality and scalable telecom talent pool?
CP Gurnani: As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, it has become necessary to make India’s youth ready for the jobs of the future.The need of the hour is for the Government, academia and industry to align and work towards making India the digital skill hub of the world. India’s education system at both the school and university levels is not in sync with the needs of modern businesses and industries. Many of the millions of Indian graduates stepping out of colleges every year lack the soft skills and aptitude to learn advanced technologies that are needed to succeed in the workplaces of tomorrow.
While the Government’s support is required for policy reform, re-skilling initiatives, and embracing of technology and start-ups, the industry will have to extend its support with its own reskilling agenda. The Government, with its campaigns and re-skilling drives, has an important role to play in re-skilling the workforce of the future.
It needs to give careful attention to the importance of teaching soft skills to IT students. At the same time, the Government can instruct training institutions to take all possible measures to ensure the comprehensive skill development of candidates.
Voice & Data: What will be the hot-selling skills that will be of very high value for service providers as well as equipment and handset companies?
CP Gurnani: To be at par with the digital revolution, there is an increased demand for skillsets in next-generation technologies such as 5G, cyber security, blockchain, IoT, ML, AI, robotics and automation.
A FICCI-NASSCOM & EY report noted that by 2022, 9% of the country’s 600 million estimated workforce (under the organised sector) would be deployed in new jobs that do not even exist today, while 37% would be in jobs that have radically changed skill sets.
Tech Mahindra is focused on re-skilling its associates to cultivate a future ready workforce. We have successfully reskilled and upskilled nearly 70% of our IT workforce through a four-tier internal training program and by leveraging our collaboration with online education partners like Pluralsight, edX.org and FutureSkills.