IT sector failed to develop skills: Panel

BANGALORE: An industry whose very foundations are built on ‘skill’ has been accused of being tardy in identifying and nurturing it with ruinous implication for the future.

A recent Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources (HR) has made critical observations on talent and skill development initiatives taken by IT companies and industry bodies. However, these comments elicited strong reaction from the software industry which said enough and more is being done to enhance the skill sets of its labour force though the primary responsibility lies with the government in this area.

The committee said that the existing skill development activities carried out by enterprises and industry bodies are slow, directionless and it might have serious consequences for the overall growth of the IT sector, said the committee.

The committee was surprised to note that in spite of several initiatives taken for meaningful interaction between industry and academia for mutual benefits specific to technical education system, linkages between industry and technical institutions continue to remain weak. The committee has been given to understand that anticipated response from the industry is simply missing. The variety of initiatives has failed to evolve the desired level of participation of the industry, said the committee.

The committee observed that tieup with industry associations such as CII, FICCI, Assocham , Nasscom and with entrepreneurship promoting agencies such as NSTEDB-DST , EDI, NISIET, NIESBUD have failed to take off.

According to Pankaj Sharma, chief trustee, Centre for Transforming India, an independent body focused on skill development and education, the basic problem is that there is no skill mapping done for IT industry either by companies or by trade bodies. The industry is also marred with a massive attrition problem which leaves little time for actual investment in skills. The government is spending a lot of amount through National Skill Development Mission but that too is going waste. Industry bodies that are supposed to do such activities are merely busy conducting seminars and tall-talks and doing little towards skill development for the industry, the report said.

The response from the industry was the opposite. Responding to the committee observations, Nasscom president Som Mittal said, “We were not part of the committee report. IT is a highly peoplecentric industry. We are working independently and we also have strong partnerships with the industry, academia and universities to ensure capacity development and skill development.”

Mittal said training/skilling is happening at multiple-levels . There are several independent training outfits; companies have their own training and skill development facilities, plus Nasscom has a Sector Skill Council and Nasscom Foundation runs an Animation & Gaming Academy.

Per annum, the government spends Rs 11 lakh crore, how much of it is going into education and skill development? Where are the tax money collections diverted asks Mohandas Pai, chairman, Manipal Universal Learning.

“It’s the job of the education sector, both vocational and higher, to focus on skill development. The government has started the journey, but has a long way to go. The committee’s criticism is misplaced as the primary agent has failed in its task and the industry cannot be blamed for the ills of society,” added Pai.

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