A steady 6% to 9% year-on-year increase in workforce notwithstanding, Hyderabad's IT sector is faced with a severe crunch - that of skilled resources.
Experts rue how a majority of the nearly 2 lakh students graduating from city engineering colleges every year do not have technical expertise - particularly in fast-growing fields such as cyber security and analytics - thus creating a huge demand-supply gap.
National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) figures indicate that the IT resources pool in Hyderabad, which stood at 3.4 lakh in 2013-14, grew to 3.6 lakh in 2014-15. Subsequently, the number jumped to 4.2 lakh in the next financial year. Yet, a sizeable chunk of fresh graduates continue to be unemployable
In fact, an annual National Employability Report 2016, published by a private employability solutions company Aspiring Minds, shows that while 23.81% of engineering graduates in Hyderabad are well-suited for the role of an IT service-based software engineer, when it comes to IT product-based job roles that requires technical expertise, an alarmingly low 2.2% graduates fit the bill.
The report additionally highlighted that a mere 14.7% of engineering graduates in the city are eligible for an analyst's job, while a measly 18.91% are cut out to be technical content developers.
"With the IT industry moving up the value chain, it is new sectors such as analytics, data science, product design and cyber security that require a highly-skilled workforce. Technical knowledge and specialised skills, which fresh engineering graduates often lack, are now more in demand from a talent acquisition perspective," said Srikanth Srinivasan, regional director for Telangana & Andhra Pradesh, Nasscom.
To bridge this employability gap, he shared, fresh courses in data science and software product design will soon be introduced in the 30-odd engineering colleges affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University.
Together with that, Pankaj Diwan, managing director of Uptec Idealabs Limited, also stressed the need to revamp engineering education, which currently is limited to textbook knowledge. "Students must be put through a more application-based approach in order to prepare them for the fiercely competitive job market," he said. Diwan's firm has been closely involved with skill development and innovation activities in engineering colleges for the last 10 years.
"These institutions need an urgent revamp. While the syllabus itself is flawed in its theoretical approach, the assessment, across engineering colleges in the country, is another major factor rendering fresh graduates unemployable as far as high-skilled jobs are concerned. Colleges need to be in line with the changing value proposition in the industry and prepare students accordingly," he insisted.
Students of the four-year-programme couldn't agree more. Ravalli Gollena, in her final year at Vasavi College of Engineering, admitted how concepts like 'Internet Of Things' and 'Big Data', seen making waves globally, are still unknown to students as well as faculty members in most city colleges.
"Even the projects that many engineering colleges mandate are not thought through. There is absolutely no amount of support or mentoring available to students who want to explore innovative product design ideas," rued Gollena. She now hopes that her hands-on approach to software product design, through the EXCITE workshop organised by Hyderabad Software Exporters Association, would give her an edge over others during the forthcoming placement season.
Reiterating the need for a syllabus overhaul, Vijay Ranganeni, chief executive officer of Tech Mahindra BPO, said that the introduction of specialized courses would help students as well as recruiters.
"Fresh engineering graduates lack enough knowledge about emerging concepts (big data, analytics and cloud computing). We spend quite some time training them on how to do their jobs. To address this concern, at our level, we are planning to work directly with a limited number of colleges where we can introduce training courses as part of their curriculum," said Ranganeni.