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NY Times: Skills Gap Hurts Technology Boom in India

Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/world/asia/17india.html?hp&ex=1161144000&en=dc5d7aa3288563d7&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Skills Gap Hurts Technology Boom in India
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
Published: October 17, 2006

...

India still produces plenty of engineers, nearly 400,000 a year at last count. But their competence has become the issue.

A study commissioned by a trade group, the National Association of Software and Service Companies, or Nasscom, found only one in four engineering graduates to be employable. The rest were deficient in the required technical skills, fluency in English or ability to work in a team or deliver basic oral presentations.

...
Deepak Bala
Bartender

Joined: Feb 24, 2006
Posts: 6661
    
    5

I have to agree. The problem is not the absence of qualified engineers but rather their numbers. The industry is growing fast and the companies have to keep up with the numbers and provide good quality at the same time. Its tough but its not very bad as yet. The problem has been identified and this problem also branches to another. This situation makes a market where good engineers can demand a lot of money. I hope the market stabilizes soon.


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Aryan Khan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 12, 2004
Posts: 290

With competition goes down and getting job becomes easy, it will directly affect the quality of the IT professionals.

We have outsourced many projects to india. The deliverables before 3 years were much better in quality and devilery schedules then now.

We are looking at China now.

Ahmad


OCP/MCP/SCJP/SCWCD/IBM XML/SCMAD/SCEA-1
Biren shah
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 13, 2005
Posts: 107
We are looking at China now.

When the whole world is looking towards India i guess you need to rethink it.
Indians have got more into better organizational architecture as well as process architecture than 3 years ago.

I agree with the report.
But i do not agree with the interpretation.
only one in four engineering graduates to be employable. The rest were deficient in the required technical skills, fluency in English or ability to work in a team or deliver basic oral presentations.


Mark let me tell you ,many people viewing this post might think that only one in four are employable.

But

fluency in English

and
basic oral presentations


makes this count as big.

see the problem is not the logical or coding problems of indian engineers but the problem is communication,etiquettes and fluency in english problem.
India is basically a country of countries with about more than 20 languages and 1000's of dialects being spoken where English is not a primary language.

so obviosly there would be problems with fluency in English or oral presentations.

The problem has been identified and this problem also branches to another

Thats right.
Most of the big MNCS like TCS,Wipro,Satyam, etc etc give 3 months of extensive foreign language training ,technical training and soft skill traiing to employees.
For others working in small companies they acquire all that with experience.

This situation makes a market where good engineers can demand a lot of money.

Ya thats too.Someday that will affect the indian market as it will not be able to provide cheap softwares.
2.5 years back TCS would give 8k for entry level freshers and 4k were given in smaller companies.
Today 22k is given to entry level freshers.

I think this count may be a too much if its considered that 3 out of 4 are not employable.

Team work,Communication plays an important part in development.
But its not necessary that all development takes place in English.
We in our team talk in our local language only.
Only our marketing persons and CEO talks to the clients and negotiate and they know english.
Out of 300 employee staff of my company if 250 are not able to speak in english or make oral presentation then that does not mean that we are logicall ill or are not employable.

But ofcourse if need to work on onsite project, dealing with foreign clients may be a problem.
But still not everybody in the team talks directly to the clients.
And English course can teach the language in 3 months.
yes ofcourse ability to work in team or techinical problems are a thing of concern.

[Can things like this published so as can malign the India Growth Story.


I am sure it will be out of topic here but the same thing is said about h1 person in america that they are sub-standard and cheap labour.
But i dont know how Indra nooyi became the world wide president of pepsico america ?
Am i too emotional on this issue?

yes
because i dont know since when the inability to speak english make someone not employable
[ October 18, 2006: Message edited by: Biren shah ]

Biren Shah<br />scjp 93%<br />scwcd 1.4 92%
Rambo Prasad
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 23, 2006
Posts: 628
Mark and Ahmad
A study commissioned by a trade group, the National Association of Software and Service Companies, or Nasscom, found only one in four engineering graduates to be employable. The rest were deficient in the required technical skills, fluency in English or ability to work in a team or deliver basic oral presentations

We are looking at China now.

If only 25% of engineers in India are employable only 10% of chinese engineers are employable ...This is based on a McKinsley study

Check out the links for more details
http://www.mckinsey.com/aboutus/mckinseynews/pressarchive/indianegineer.asp


Helping hands are much better than the praying lips
Eric Lemaitre
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2004
Posts: 538

Hi all !

If only 25% of engineers in India are employable only 10% of chinese engineers are employable... This is based on a McKinsley study

I won't discuss this point, but by advance, please all keep cool since such comment may lead to another China vs India flame war in our posts, and no one wants or needs that.

Despite I won't contest figures, I find such studies completely biased by advance :

_ Only 10% or 25% of Engineers are employable for a given country ? I say this is humiliating for ALL Engineers are employable for any country but it depends for what purpose. Some high end purposes may have only a fraction of them a fit for very demanding requirements, but this doesn't make the remaining others "unemployable".

_ These studies are completely focused on outsourcing exclusively, which involves some very oriented assets tied to social soft skills valuable for abroad (foreign language, relational, speach in public, ...). Does it mean that Indian or Chinese IT professionals not employed for support or outsourcing for foreign companies are doomed for litter-bin ? Of course not, there are many other IT domains where IT professionnals not suitable or not willing for outsourcing will succeed.

Outsourcing may be a considerable aspect for some developing countries but it is far from being the only valuable stuff. These developing countries are since long considering developing their own software industry, rather than providing ancillary services to foreigners. China in particular has an extremely efficient fiscal policy to make Chinese Engineers go home to develop their own business. In clear Chinese Engineers are trained in US to learn both best skills & US market, then set Chinese subsidiaries in US for most profits towards China. IT outsourcing should be a parenthesis for smart developing countries, simply a good occasion to earn big bucks before passing to the really interesting most rewarding stage : building their own independant software industry.

Best regards.


Eric LEMAITRE
CNAM IT Engineer, MS/CS (RHCE, RHCX, SCJA, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, Net+)
Free Online Tutorials: http://www.free-tutorials-online.net/
Rachil Chandran
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Joined: Mar 05, 2006
Posts: 67
Both engineers from India and China are proficient ans skilled. Saying anything else would be an insult to these professionals.

As far as communiation (in English) is concerned. A good percentage os schools, atleast in south India have english as their primary medium. I suspect schools of this kind are lesser in China.

In India ther is absolutely no emphasis on soft/communication skills. Students are too focussed on their academic performance (basically translates to trying to score more) to bother about communicatin skills.

Maybe (or maybe not) more soft skill oriented courses in the curriculum would address this problem. Atleast it will be step in the right direction.


SCJP2 96%
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
First please note that I have offered no opinion on this as of yet, I merely posted an article, please do not ascribe the comments in the article to me.

*Now* for my opinions...

Originally posted by Rachil Chandran:
Both engineers from India and China are proficient ans skilled. Saying anything else would be an insult to these professionals.


I completely disagree with that blanket statement. Not all engineers in the US are skilled. Not all engineers at in home state are skilled. Not all EE/CS majors at MIT are skilled. I doubt *all* engineers from India or China are skilled. Where the line is drawn is a matter of debate and the article drew one line. I'm not say where to draw the line, but I am saying it is not drawn at 100%. Still, if your point was that arguing over where to draw the line is meaningless, I would agree, since we lack the tools to accurately measure.


Originally posted by Rachil Chandran:
Maybe (or maybe not) more soft skill oriented courses in the curriculum would address this problem. Atleast it will be step in the right direction.


I've been pushing for this for years in the US. It is, I believe universally true.

--Mark
Rachil Chandran
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 05, 2006
Posts: 67
Mark, you are right. No one can ever argue about 100% graduates being perfect. If they could, there would be no question about employability. I was generally refering to the comparison between chinese and indian engineers (esp wrt communication in english).

Also, do you think the lack of 'soft skill courses in curriculum' stems from the fact that people charting the curriculum are purely academic.

Would it make a difference, say, if you have adequate representation from the industry in commitees deciding on curriculum?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Rachil Chandran:
Also, do you think the lack of 'soft skill courses in curriculum' stems from the fact that people charting the curriculum are purely academic.

Would it make a difference, say, if you have adequate representation from the industry in commitees deciding on curriculum?


I don't think that's the problem. In think the problem is

Computer Science != Software Engineering

Computer Science is to Software Engineering as Physics is to Mechanical Engineering--it's an important and necessary foundation, but not a sufficent set of skills. Computer Science wasn't designed to produce software engineers, it was designed to produce computer scientists. The two were one and the same in the 1950's and 1960's, but have subsequently diverged. This is standard growth in all engineering disciplines. Years ago, for example, electronics manufacturing required highly educated professionals; today it requires a few months of vocational training.

I can't speak to all colleges, but at MIT we do have industry professionals as part of our curriculum review committees, but at MIT we teach computer science, not software engineering. (That said, MIT has been making more of a push to increase communication skills among our students. I sit on the review committee for one of the newer programs.)

Software Engineering programs, at least all the ones I have come across suffer from the opposite problem. They often take a vocational approach and teach by rote example. They fail to focus on higher order learning, including soft skills. For example, they teach the design of an e-commerce system and how to build one. They do not (and may not even understand how) to teach proper communication at project meetings.

--Mark
Manish Hatwalne
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Joined: Sep 22, 2001
Posts: 2578

Very interesting topic....woud love to add inputs, but a bit later...overloaded with work now.

- Manish
pooja jain
greenhorn
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Joined: Jan 12, 2005
Posts: 213
Originally posted by Manish Hatwalne:
Very interesting topic....woud love to add inputs, but a bit later...overloaded with work now.

- Manish


how many version do you have? (overloaded )


:d
M Movilogo
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 17, 2006
Posts: 63
Even 6-7 years back, there were very few good engineering colleges in India and that too mostly run by state governments. At that times, the entrace exams were very tough and only the best of the lot used to get thru. Naturally, all those graduates were in great demand in the industry.

Gradually, because of politics, lots of private engineering colleges started coming out in India. Anyone can pay a hefty sum and get admitted there. Now every Tom, Dick, Harry started becoming engineer in India! When I passed my engineering in India in late nineties, even less than 100,000 engineers passed out each year. Nowadays that number has increased multiple times. So, quality is bound to suffer!

The politicans are just creating more engineers and giving public false sense of "plenty of jobs" feeling.

Also, the top IT companies in India earlier used to conduct moderate level of screening during interview. Nowadays they set a target like "we have to recruit 100 personnel today by hook or crook".

Do you still doubt why the quality falls?
Ramesh Choudhary
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 10, 2005
Posts: 200

If you have adequate representation from the industry in commitees deciding on curriculum


I strongly object to presence of 'people from industry' in academia. If the above suggestion is taken up as an ideology, we can expect a new species of engineers who are no more than glorified mechanics and carpenters with a ton of soft skills(and with zero theoroetical concept), . Majority of industrial profiteers are inherently myopic and they better be limited to board rooms.

Just imagine a generation of engineers with great artistry of programming languages and zero knowledge of Theoroetical Computer Science. May be perfectly acceptable to few software firms, but disastrous in along run.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Ramesh Choudhary:

I strongly object to presence of 'people from industry' in academia.


I strongly encourage it. Most academic research is done to improve society, and not merely to be contained in the ivory tower. If we don't find out what is helpful to industry, the research is less valuable to this end.



Originally posted by Ramesh Choudhary:

we can expect a new species of engineers who are no more than glorified mechanics and carpenters with a ton of soft skills(and with zero theoroetical concept).

...

Just imagine a generation of engineers with great artistry of programming languages and zero knowledge of Theoroetical Computer Science.


Amen to that! I wait the day it happens as do you. If this didn't happen you'd still believing in a hut working by hand on a farm.

A thousand years ago crafts like masonry were arts undertaken only by the initiated, who underwent years of training. Today much construction is performed by people with high school education or less. I don't care that the guy building the bridge doesn't understand the tensile strength of the steel I-beam. He doesn't need to know. What does matter is that someone figured out what material to use, and how to use it, and it's production and usage have become so standard that people can follow the directions without understanding why. Think the guy who assembled your computer on the manufacturing floor can explain how a semiconductor works? No he can't and we don't care. Tens of thousand of years ago, the ability to make fire was a secret art; today anyone can strike a match.

Years ago it took a PhD to use a computer. Now a 10 year old can write software. I gladly await the day that software engineering, like other disciplines have in the past, have matured enough that what we do today can be done by people with less education and training. When this happens, we will have moved on to more advanced task, further advancing the craft.

--Mark
Ramesh Choudhary
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 10, 2005
Posts: 200

Most academic research is done to improve society


True. But one needs to look at future. Industry dominated academia concentrates on research that is too practical and readily marketable.
If the day comes as you envisage, there may not be any quality talent in true fundamental research. They are either snatched by the industry or have lost the ability to think deep.

Industry should invest in employee by teaching him/her necessary soft skills. 'People from Industry' expect fresh engineers to be readily deployable '.war' file with all the .properties files tuned to their needs. Believe me, this tuning has to be done in the industry itself. Not in the academy.One should not expect to rake profits on enginners from day one.

If some one enters my university and starts emphasizing on soft skills i would rather avoid her lectures. Soft-Skills vary from culture to culture and are too difficult to be packaged into a standard course. I would prefer acquiring them by 'hands-on' experience rather than a compact course curriculum.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Ramesh Choudhary:

True. But one needs to look at future. Industry dominated academia concentrates on research that is too practical and readily marketable.
If the day comes as you envisage, there may not be any quality talent in true fundamental research. They are either snatched by the industry or have lost the ability to think deep.


I have no idea what you're talking about. I never proposed that industry should dominate academia, and I don't think anyone else did either. (If someone else did, speak up.)



Originally posted by Ramesh Choudhary:

Industry should invest in employee by teaching him/her necessary soft skills. 'People from Industry' expect fresh engineers to be readily deployable '.war' file with all the .properties files tuned to their needs. Believe me, this tuning has to be done in the industry itself. Not in the academy.One should not expect to rake profits on engineers from day one.


I can't speak for all companies. I can say if a company expects their just-out-of-college employee to be knowledgeable about something as mundane as deploying a .war file they are emphasizing the wrong values and will ultimately be disappointed (either by the new grad who can't, or by the new grad who can, but learned it at the cost of more fundamental skills).



Originally posted by Ramesh Choudhary:

If some one enters my university and starts emphasizing on soft skills i would rather avoid her lectures. Soft-Skills vary from culture to culture and are too difficult to be packaged into a standard course. I would prefer acquiring them by 'hands-on' experience rather than a compact course curriculum.


This is where you and I will have to disagree; I would gladly attend her lectures. I'm the first to admit that it can't simply be taught through traditional means, i.e. you can't teach people soft skills through lectures. One flaw we have at MIT is that our university has traditionally lacked the emphasis on soft skills--in lectures and in the school culture as a whole--and our students primarily desire to learn from the book/lectures. (Fortunately this is beginning to change.) Personally, I wish I had had more emphasis on soft skills in my formative days.

Soft skills do NOT vary from culture to culture, social mechanics do. Things like knowing whether to bow or shake hands, to not write on a business card, how to dress appropriate for a certain function are not soft skills, they're social mechanics. You can pick up 90% of in a book, and the rest from watching or practicing. Learning how to read people, align goals, negotiate, give a speech, making a coherent non-technical argument, understand the values of others are universal skills.

My friend Olivia Fox teaches networking skills and has lectures on 5 continents. Her talk is probably 90% the same across all of them. The part that changes is very minor and has to do with a couple mechanical details. Why, when, and how to network remain the same, merely the act of how to ask changes slightly across regions.


--Mark
Arjunkumar Shastry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 28, 2005
Posts: 986
I think this ratio One in Four given in article many not be correct as far as IT industry goes.Unemployment has been traditionally high in Eletrical/Mechanical/Civil engineering.Big Indian IT companies (the one giben in article) have practice of hiring Mech/Civil engineers too and give them training on some tool.The reason they give is they could not find enough CS graduates.


Namma Suvarna Karnataka
Biren shah
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 13, 2005
Posts: 107
Even 6-7 years back, there were very few good engineering colleges in India and that too mostly run by state governments.

They are still there and producing quality professionals.
And there are same number of private colleges founded by reputed companies like DAIICT by Reliance Industry and others which are not for money making.

The politicans are just creating more engineers and giving public false sense of "plenty of jobs" feeling.

Not every Engineer need to write code for google's searching algorithm.
Apart from writing pure business logic and algorithms
We need software engineers that can give support to existing softwares.
We need software engineers that can maintain existing software and remove bugs.
We need software engineers that can do QA for new developments.
We need software engineers that do migration of existing projects to new projects.

If everybody has passed out from MIT or IIT or BITS then nobody would do QA or give support.

Also, the top IT companies in India earlier used to conduct moderate level of screening during interview. Nowadays they set a target like "we have to recruit 100 personnel today by hook or crook".


The vast talent pool half of which do not find their jobs in first six month of there graduation make the indian IT market so hot , competitive and lucrative.

I have seen my friends working day and night on soft skills programming skills to pass that interviews.

The count of employees that are going to be hired this year by 4 companies namely TCS , Satyam , Wipro ,Infosys is 1,00,000.
Only 4 companies.
Not all are going to be working on algorithms.
Not all need to be from reputed engineering college with masters in computer science.

Those companies recruiting such big head count will also give layoffs when recession comes.
And i am more of concerned with that , today or 5 or 10 years later its going to come for sure.
What will happen then with such large pool of people unemployed???
[ October 20, 2006: Message edited by: Biren shah ]
 
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