IT In India Could Use Some Help – Are You In ?


I woke up this weekend to this depressing news http://toi.in/ot3e_a

I have worked at various SIs all my life before deciding to join SAP labs in January of this year . So this problem hit me hard – and in some way, I felt that I am responsible too somehow for this dismal situation that the younger generation is facing .

This is not just an HCL problem – every SI I know of has had this issue of having a big mismatch between supply and demand . The irony is that these SIs all have very capable S&OP type experts who have done fantastic work for their clients solving this exact problem . Yet they can’t seem to solve it for their own business .

The academic world in India does not work as closely with Industry as it should. I am a mechanical engineer by training – but there were hardly any good mechanical engineering jobs when I came out of college . The only decent jobs were in IT – that too in SIs . There was practically nothing that I learned in Engineering that I could directly apply to my IT job . And yet, vast number of mechanical engineering students come out of colleges every year and look for IT jobs . Why isn’t there a supply adjustment to suit demand ?

It is not as if the education is much better for core mechanical engineering needs itself. The labs in most colleges still use engines that were obsolete 40 years ago . When I went to college – auto transmission was popular outside India . I remember just passing references to it in my text book – and that was it . I am glad I did not have to do mechanical engineering for a living . I just wasn’t well prepared for it . As I talk with young students now – I think the syllabus has barely changed from when I did engineering 20 years ago.

And yet – thousands of new engineering grads are churned out every year . This cannot be good – the average quality is not good for their core discipline nor is it good for IT .

IT education is not much better . People still learn C and java and come out of school looking for software jobs . I met a recent computer science grad last week who did not know why servers use fusion I/O cards or even SSDs. They very rarely have seen good code in college , because there is very little interaction with corporates . So corporates take them, train them and few years later they are productive . If academicians took a look at what the industry wants – these unproductive years could be absolutely minimized . But most of them don’t – they just love status quo.

The VC culture in India is nascent at best . All the major VCs have presenxe here – but several people who could use their investment have no idea where they are or how to get their attention . And vast majority of people don’t understand even basics of how startups work . It pains me to see some of them fall prey to local loan sharks . This lack of awareness results in several brilliant students live a “next best life” as a programmer at an SI, and rise through its ranks to varying degrees of success . It depresses me to no end . I try to talk to as many people as I can and try to give them pointers and help them build a network – and I know several others do it too . But it is not done at a scale that matters , given the magnitude of the opportunity cost .

This should change – and every Indian who knows better should spend some time and effort in helping those who don’t . If enough people take an interest at grass roots level – I am sure this could change for the better . Actually, I am not sure any more – but I sure hope and pray that it will change !

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9 thoughts on “IT In India Could Use Some Help – Are You In ?

  1. Nice post, Vijay. During the time I was in college in late 90s and early 2000’s in India, most of the faculty in my college were fresh out of college themselves, with no teaching exp. But over the last 10 years, i think they gained experience. More than working with students, i think the Indian IT industry must work with colleges to train faculty to speed up the process of churning decent faculty.

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    • I agree Gopal – definitely need to fundamentally change how colleges and teachers work . Your inexperienced teachers now have experience , but what about the hundreds of new colleges coming up now ? They have inexperienced teachers . And a lot if those new teachers choose to teach because they couldn’t find another job . Which is terrible

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      • Yes, and that is where i think, indian IT industry needs to work in a close relationship with AICTE. What in your opinion is a good way to work at grass roots level, while still keeping up with their commitments in a different country?

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  2. Thanks for the blog Vijay. Having gone through the stage myself, I can relate to it. I have tried to think through it, but not really sure about the big problem of number of jobs in India.

    Given that we all join hands and teach, and make students aware, even help them hone their skills – but number of jobs in industry would still be the same. Citing HCL situation, they would not take them all even if they matched the skill-set they need. With population being huge in India, and more and more students graduation from engineering colleges, there is always going to be such situation. Apart from IT engineering, there is not a lot to speak of in areas such as civil, mechanical and electrical in India, as well as Commerce and Arts.

    Students with money look to go outside India (GRE/GMAT), and the same with skill and awareness and those who can afford to take a loan. I am still at a loss to think of how this situation can change (possibly with complete education overhaul – which is possible, but again the topic of high lecturer’s salary that could motivate talent to take that line).

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    • Good points indeed !

      There is always demand for some job – just not the ones that there is current supply available . Look at the HCL story – they have infrastructure jobs, but supply is only available for SW skills. Now it is double whammy – HCL gets a bad name for not giving jobs in time to people who got offers , and HCL incurs lost revenue or higher cost for unfulfilled infrastructure positions .

      If IT and other potential employer companies could do better forecasting even with some margin of error – and work with colleges , this could change substantially .

      The other difficulty I see is that people tend to only look for mass production skill sets . Companies need domain experts , product designers etc all the time – yet they are very difficult to find .

      And last but not least – teaching should get good talent and not be treated as a job someone would take when they run out of all other options . Teachers should be well compensated too .

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  3. Vijay,

    It is always great to work with execs like you who remember what it is like to start out. Lately, I have been so impressed by the fresh college hires and so disappointed at the lack of respect they are shown. I don’t know if it is fear of their energy and dreams, the unknown, or just the competition.

    Here is to you and I making a difference.

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    • The CBD program at GBS was awesome – I probably used them more than most other partners , and probably before others lost their apprehensions on the young guns being able to do a good job . I learned a lot from that experience . And I did that mostly because my seniors , including you and Adolf, did not show any lack of trust in my abilities when I was younger and dreamier 😉

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  4. Thanks for highlighting the issues whats today’s young India is facing. Unable to clear the interview even they scored avg of more than 90% overall due to lack of interest to think practically what they are learning in college days.

    It’s not an students mistake. Edcation system is too old. This blog is impressing me a lot as I knew how difficulty to get into job.

    My humble request to each and every students are : Don’t think like I’m studying in worst college and I won’t get job. Self motivate yourself. Learn! Learn! Learn from library, Net lab, Referring white papers, find out what IIT, IIM, Stanford, Oxford university students learning and don’t buy final year projects. Create your own innovation. Just simulate to the world. You will be the most important person one day.

    Best,
    Vasanth S

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    • Agreed Vasanth – it is a hard grind, but worth the effort to make it out of the gates from college and make it work in career .

      Unlike in US etc – where I know brilliant colleagues who never bothered with college and got good jobs by learning themselves along the way

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