IT job losses and the govt's denial: Why is nobody taking responsibility?

Once the country’s pride, the Indian information technology sector is today mired in controversy and sadly no one seems to be taking responsibility. While jargons are being thrown around to justify the number of people losing jobs, nobody has offered an immediate solution that would help save the jobs of thousands of highly-skilled individuals.

Not just the sector, even the government is denying that jobs are being lost. Experts have attributed this to the ongoing ‘three years of the Modi government’ campaign as well as the numbers given out by industry body NASSCOM. Experts believe that job losses in the IT sector would be a glaring red mark on the government’s report card.

At a recent press conference, Minister of Technology and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad vehemently denied any job losses in the sector and said that around six lakh jobs have been created in the last three years.

He even said that the industry will create 25-30 lakh jobs by 2025. “As IT minister of the nation, I completely deny and refute that there is any downturn in the employment in this sector. It is robust, slated for great growth and once digital economy ushers then you can fathom its development,” Prasad said while sharing the three-year achievements of the Ministry of Electronics and IT.

“IT companies employ 40 lakh people directly and 1.3 crore indirectly. We are bringing BPOs in small towns. It is very exciting situation. Industry is growing and Nasscom has made assessment that in coming 4-5 years 20-25 lakh more jobs will be created.”

While the IT sector has recruited around six lakh people in the last three years, it refuses to highlight that net jobs created in the sector  have fallen consistently. According to NASSCOM data, in FY15, the sector hired  217,000 employees, which fell to 205,000 in FY16. In FY17 it went down even further to 173,000 and the industry body believes that net hiring in FY18 would be around 150,000 only.

From workforce realignment to rightsizing, the IT industry is using every technical jargon possible to justify the job losses in the sector. “Workforce realignment is common to any industry and is a part of the regular exercise of yearly performance appraisal processes which only impacts 0.5-three percent of the overall IT talent pool. Layoffs are an internal process of companies, where they look at their priorities and align talent; this is a key competitive strategy and there is no modification to this practice in the current year,” NASSCOM said in its recent press release.

Putting the onus on employees it went on to say that going forward the focus for companies will be on skills and proficiency levels rather than scale, hence it is becoming imperative for employees (both current and potential) to skill themselves in domain-specific requirements.

Industry critics, however, argue that it is the industry that has not been in tune with the global changes in technology and is now fighting against time to get abreast with global changes.

“It was the industry itself that demanded a certain set of skills, so people studied on them accordingly. No one from the sector at that time came forward to tell them that technology requirements globally are changing,” said an analyst from a global consultancy firm.

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