This column is authored by digital marketing expert, Nitin Vishwakarma
The Indian IT industry in undergoing a major turmoil. The IT services market decayed some time ago and new job creation slowed down. And now automation and robotics are coming in to take away the existing jobs as well.
This is how the casualty report stands as of now :
Industry insiders are predicting that over 56,000 jobs will be lost this year in just the top 7 IT companies.
Further, 1.75 to 2 lakh jobs will be lost every year over the next 3 years. That is an incredible 5.25 to 6 lakh engineers losing their jobs in the coming years!
And this is not the complete picture yet. Thousands of consultants working in the IT sector will also lose their jobs and those numbers do not even show up in the figures above.
Campus recruitment has slowed down, almost coming to a halt. This means those entering the workforce in the next 3 years will have a herculean task of getting themselves employed. They will also be competing with those who have been laid off.
Even those who manage to hold on to their jobs, will see salary growth slowing down, bonuses disappearing and the work environment becoming a lot more competitive and stressful.
Is there any ray of hope for IT professionals than in these times of doom and gloom?
Yes, there is. New technologies.
The fact of the matter is that globally the IT sector is not shrinking. It is just evolving rapidly. Too rapidly, at least for the moment, for the Indian IT industry to keep pace.
The harsh reality is that the Indian IT industry is built on ‘bug fixing’ (OK, I agree, this is a gross generalization but I need to make a point here.). For too long, we have been content with bug fixing. We stayed away from any kind of research and innovation because that costs money. And now we are paying the price.
Bug fixing is about to get automated. (Please note, I am using bug fixing to cover all simple tasks like testing, maintenance etc). And thousands of jobs will go away as a result of that.
But at the same time, there are thousands of jobs coming up in new sectors within IT. Analytics, Big data, Internet of things, Machine learning, AI, Robotics, Algorithmic Trading, Cloud computing and security, Blockchain technology are just some of the emerging fields that have a growing demand for skilled professionals.
The sad truth is that our professionals don’t have these skills. They have been trained on the traditional skills that are no longer required as those jobs are getting taken up by Artificial intelligence.
So, what should a professional who got laid off do now?
The natural tendency for anyone who lost his or her job will be to start looking for a new role. Unfortunately, people will find this is easier said than done. Jobs will be very hard to come by in the current scenario.
So you need to pause and take a deep breath. Face the reality. The job you have been trained for no longer exists and the skills you possess are no longer sought after. You need to go back to the drawing board — re-start your learning, up-skill yourself.
Read up on the upcoming technologies. Algorithmic Trading and High Frequency Trading will need hundreds of thousands of people in the coming years. Similarly, Machine Learning, AI, and robotics will also need to be trained professionals.
Choose one of these fields as your next goal. Identify where your interest lies, where your previous experience and skills can be leveraged the most.
Master this field as well as you can. Take a professional course, get a placement with big giants in Automated Trading.
Then go back into the job market. You will be looked at differently. You will be vying for different roles like Quantitative Research Analyst, Quant Researcher, Data Scientist, and Trading Strategist. You will be competing with a different, smaller set of people. Ultimately, you will have an easier time finding yourself a new job if you re-skill first.
Do not look at this as a tragedy that has befallen you. Instead, view it as an opportunity — an opportunity to reinvent yourself and transform your career. If you play it smart, you will come out of this in a stronger position.