The news of 200 director-level executives being laid off this year by Cognizant gave many techies the chills. The extreme step was taken to align Cognizant’s talent pool to the newer digital requirements. The company let go of employees who reportedly “could not adjust” to the current technology environment and failed to add new skills in the rapidly growing new tech space such as analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, mobile computing, cybersecurity and others.
Last year the IT giant offered a voluntary separation scheme to 400 senior employees with an aim to align the company’s talent for the new requirements which have cropped up in the market. Not just Cognizant, but Wipro, too, had laid off 600 employees last year. Infosys reduced their hiring by 60 percent as a step to hire only the right candidate with the required skill sets.
Why Are IT Employees Becoming Irrelevant?
A 2017 report by McKinsey & Company had suggested that nearly half of the workforce in the IT services firms is likely to become irrelevant over the next 3-4 years. It had suggested that Indian IT service players might have to re-skill significant chunks of their workforce to drive upcoming digital technology transformation.
Given the significant shift in technology over the past few years, the biggest challenge for big IT firms is to re-train more than half of their existing workforce. The report pointed out that while the industry employs 3.9 million people, a majority of them have to be retrained on most levels. As IT industry is witnessing an uncertain time with the growth in digital technologies, companies are struggling to keep both the new developments and traditional technologies in the business.
While the scenario might sound pessimistic, many industry experts believe that a lot of this workforce is re-skillable. The company ideally must invest in these areas to make the workforce more tech-driven:
- Invest in new capabilities
- Make digital transformations co-exist with traditional services
- Re-skill employees with emerging technologies
- Be open to adopting new technologies and solutions
Despite all the efforts and initiatives by most companies, they have to take drastic steps of letting the employees go, who are unable to adjust to the tectonic technology shifts. Here we discuss some pointers on what employees can do to escape the unfortunate incidence of lay off.
How To Stay Relevant In Rapidly Evolving New-Tech Space
As companies are focusing more on workforce management strategy, right employee skill sets are necessary to meet client needs and achieve business goals, this is why it is important to evolve with the changes happening in the industry. Some of the things that employees can do are:
Discuss With Managers And Analyse The Growing Changes In The Industry: It is always advisable to have regular talks with the managers about the newer techniques and methods that they are going to introduce in the company to streamline the processes. This helps in getting an idea of the key areas that you are strong at and the other areas that you need to work at.
Talk To Customers And End-Users: Apart from managers, it is also important to have proper communication set out with customers to analyse their evolving needs from the business. It is important to know from an end-user perspective on what can be changed and staying relevant to them.
Make A Clear Plan About Re-skilling And Training: IT professionals need to re-skill at the same speed as the industry is evolving. It is possible to survive in the industry only by continuously adapting to the industry changes, which can be achieved by re-skilling. To learn technologies that are in demand is the key. There are many sources where re-skilling can be done from— Coursera, Udacity and other private training institutes offering executive and full-time courses.
Excel In Areas You Are Strong In: Apart from adding new skills, it is also important to keep adding to the skills that you are already good at. Suppose you know a tool already, so it is important to be updated with its latest versions. Expanding horizons and staying relevant is the key.
Executing Plans And Reaching Goals: On a personal level, it is important to always deliver quality work and go beyond or at least be on par with your peers.
Keep In Touch With Friends And Colleagues: It is an important step as it helps in knowing what is trending in the space. What are the new tools being developed? New innovations happening in the field, etc. It is important for an employee to keep innovating. In the current scenario, where technology is changing rapidly it is important to catch up with it, learn it and stay relevant.
Start Now And Keep Learning: If you want to learn new technology, the time is right now. Keep yourself flexible with learning new skills, and be open to good changes. It is important to work hard and learn something new each day. Learn new technologies that are trending. Some of the technologies you can begin with are SPARK, Amazon Web Services (AWS), DevOps, data mining, Azure, Tableau, Salesforce and more. Re-inventing and continuous learning is the key.
Gain Practical Exposure: Apart from having a thorough theoretical knowledge, it is important to keep expanding the practical execution of your knowledge and skills. Keep practising as it can never be enough.
Companies Taking An Effort To Re-Skill Employees
While Cognizant lay off was much talked about, it also brought some good news by announcing skills premium allowance to boost techies across AI and ML domains. It was reported that the IT major rolled out the allowance for 40,000 employees to excel in the field of digital technologies. The company also aims to motivate the employees to upskill by offering a bonus for upskilling. For instance, a few years ago where developers specialising in SAP were given a hot skill bonus. It also announced the same for learning advanced tools such as S/4 HANA.
Facebook had also announced training 5 million Indians in digital skills over the next three years. The training is with an intention to help people use digital media to expand their businesses gain digital marketing skills and the access global market. While it is not essentially re-skilling, but an effort worth mentioning as it introduces necessary digital skills.