Skill Paucity haunts IT products sector

— The Times of India

​India’s move to the area of value added information technology product development services can suffer a setback from a serious lack of capabilities, a study by employability Assessment Company Aspiring Minds has said. Only 2.68% of the more than 5 lakh engineers that India produces annually meet the skill requirements of the IT products sector, the study said.

The situation may retard the country’s move from an IT services provider to a leading provider of IT products and poses a huge risk to aspiring start-up businesses, the study – National Employability Report, Engineering Graduates, Annual Report-2012 – has warned. The report states that nearly 92% of engineering graduates lack computer programming and algorithms skill required for IT product development whereas 56% show lack of soft skills and cognitive skills. For a sector that has seen around 1282 start-ups between 2008 and 2012, this exposes a huge dearth of talent and a pertinent risk, it adds.

The company said it used proprietary aptitude, language agnostic programming assessments and simulated programming assessments to assess over 55,000 engineers in the study. The report said there is a sharp fall in the percentage of engineers who can ‘cross apply’ mathematical constructs to solve practical problems, as opposed to straightforward, theoretical application (formulae-based) of standalone concepts. For each area of mathematics identified in the report, the percentage of engineers who can solve questions based on direct formulae of the concept is 60% and above, whereas any cross-application of concept makes the percentage fall to under 40%.

A key skill for product engineers, only 65% have an ability to comprehend the concept of probability and understanding the implication of ‘or’ while only 36% have comprehension of tenets of probability in more than one draw or in more than one event.

This report further found that a very small percentage of engineers show competence in applying engineering mathematics to solve problems. For instance, only 24% engineers can apply probability and permutation-combination to solve complex problems. About 70% of employable resources are in tier 2 or lower ranked institutions, the study pointed out, adding that top cities in terms of percentage of employable talent in IT product sector are Delhi (10.91%), Kolkata (4.51%) and Bengaluru (2.93%).

Jagat Pal Singh, Chief Technology Officer at outsourced product development company Cybage Software Pvt. Ltd. concurred with the findings of the study. This is the reason why decent size IT companies have large setups to train fresh hires, which obviously for product start-ups is a big challenge. He, however, said the situation won’t throw India out of track. Since number of employees required by product start-ups is relatively small right now, with efforts, the gap between demand and supply can be reduced, he said.