Digital skill gap widens but India can be a talent supply hub

A recent report says there is an estimated gap of 6 million between demand and supply of digital talent across eight countries, including India, the US and China

Digital skills cover a range of abilities related to the use of digital devices, communication applications and networks to access and manage information | Image: Pixabay

India can overcome the shortage of digital talent in the county, which is leading to high attrition rates and increased wages, and instead emerge as the talent hub for digital skills. 

A recent report by McKinsey & Co says there is an estimated gap of 6 million (60 lakh) between demand and supply of digital talent across eight countries, including India, the US and China.

As per a Salesforce study, 14 G-20 countries could miss out on $11.5 trillion worth of cumulative growth in GDP if the digital-skill gap remains unfilled. “The digital skills gap has hit an inflection point. Companies are facing a new challenge in a digital-first world: there’s just not enough people with the right digital skills to power their companies’ transformation now and in the future,” the study says.

What Is the Digital Skills Gap?

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Digital skills cover a range of abilities related to the use of digital devices, communication applications and networks to access and manage information — from basic online searching and emailing to specialised programming and development.

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There are multiple drivers of the skills gap, according to Salesforce: The demand for tech talent is outpacing an already short supply; emerging technologies amplify the need for digital skills; high costs and disorganised approaches with traditional education increase barriers to learning; access to digital infrastructure and skills is limited by socio-economic status.

Opportunity for India

This should be an opportunity for India to take bold steps and become a digital talent hub, according to NASSCOM chief Debjani Ghosh.

Writing in LiveMint, Ghosh outlines five steps that India can take to bridge this gap:

Implementation of the National Education Policy as quickly as possible. “Continuous learning, skill credits, world-class academic innovation, experiential learning, faculty training, all need to focus on excellence and outcomes,” Ghosh said.

Deepening of the talent pool. Build digital capabilities in smaller towns, get more women to join the work-stream, revamp vocational education.

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Incentives for skilling: Tax incentives played a key role in building a global footprint of multinationals in India. The country now needs schemes that incentivise skilling for corporates, not just for their own needs, but across the ecosystem.

Innovative learning models: Use apprenticeship programmes and learning-by doing-models. Invest in world-class free content.

Lastly, democratise training and make it available to everyone. Drop unnecessary entry qualifications and eligibility criteria.

“India must not only look at strategies aimed at increasing home-grown talent, but also work on attracting the best global talent to catalyse the next decade of growth and innovation,” Ghosh says. “This requires constant investments in re-skilling and embracing a culture that promotes skill development. Creating a robust digital talent ecosystem would further enable us to be future-ready and leverage the opportunities of a digital future.”

What is digital talent

As per a survey done by Capgemini, in association with LinkedIn, all organisations most organisations agreed to the fact that the digital divide was increasing. Going by geography, the US had the highest gap (70 per cent), followed by India (64 per cent) and the UK (57 per cent).

In industry terms, banking had the highest talent gap, 62 per cent; consumer products and retail 60 per cent each; and insurance, 58 per cent.

The Capgemini survey says the five top digital roles would be information security/privacy consultant, chief digital officer, data architect, digital project manager, and data engineer.

The survey found 42 per cent of employees felt their organisations’ training as ‘useless and boring’ and 52 per cent of employees were looking at massive open online courses, commonly known as MOOC, to upskill.

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