Why companies in India are reskilling tech employees instead of hiring new ones

SOURCE: Source: Prakash Singh/AFP

By U2B Staff 

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During disruptive times like the current pandemic, companies big and small in India are reevaluating their workforce to ensure staff and managers are prepared to handle new business directions.

Scores of employees are being laid off or furloughed as some companies face the harsh impact of COVID-19, but many are still able to stay afloat – or even flourish – during these turbulent times.

For those caught somewhere in between, they need to take quick action to ensure they don’t go under during difficult economic times.

At such a pivotal time, should companies in India hire new employees with the right skills or look into reskilling their current ones? Survey shows that with current hiring freezes and the growth of online learning platforms, reskilling is the better option.

A white paper by edtech firm upGrad and industry body FICCI, ‘High-Impact Online Learning at Scale’  found that business leaders in India are looking to reskill their existing talent pool rather than hire new employees.

According to the report findings, 87% of the business leaders upGrad interviewed during the Covid-19 crisis said that they are looking to reskill over hiring and that reskilling existing employees is the more economical option compared to hiring new ones.

75% of the respondents to the upGrad survey also said that they considered reskilling successful in their respective organisations.

These findings are consistent with global hiring and reskilling trends even before the COVID-19 crisis. The disruption and rapid advancement of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, (AI), machine learning, and big data were already leading to a reskilling revolution.

It was recently reported by The Economic Times that IT companies in India have stepped up reskilling efforts of employees as they race to compete in the new post-pandemic environment where clients are demanding new digital expertise.

These include companies such as Infosys, Wipro, Accenture, Zensar Technologies, who are embarking on a major upskilling drive to ensure the Indian workforce is ready for jobs of the future.


According to The Economic Times, “The training being imparted is in the fields of cloud technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, cyber security, Internet of Things (IoT), user experience (UX) and digital networking, among others.”

Krishnamurthy Shankar, executive vice president at Infosys, told The Economic Times that “the need for reskilling has been exacerbated in the post-COVID scenario with new-age digital skills becoming indispensable” to clients. He said, “A steady focus on reskilling is key, as we progress in our digital transformation, and we are expecting coverage to increase manifold in the upcoming quarters.Employees at Infosys are currently spending approximately 35 minutes a day on the in-house learning platform Lex, which offers more than 850 micro-courses with advanced telemetry, gamification and certification features.

Anurag Seth, vice president at Wipro, told The Economic Times, “Covid-19 has created immediate online and virtual training needs. We have made investments in technology infrastructure to upscale virtual instructor-led training, e-learning courses from partners, online assessments platforms, and virtual labs and mentor support.”

Capgemini, a French IT company with over 125,000 employees in India,  plans to reskill about 50,000 employees over the next six months to help clients meet changing business needs by adopting emerging technologies.

Selvan Dorairaj, vice president & head of Learning and Development – India, Capgemini, told LiveMint, “We strive to equip employees with the requisite skills to deliver quality service to clients and provide learning opportunities for continuous development. Our learning initiatives are designed with an objective to provide end-to-end transformation through skill enhancement.”

Capgemini has already reskilled about 50,000 employees in India in the first half of 2020 in cutting-edge technology areas such as Java, Full Stack, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Agile and Automation. The company has also recently launched an AI-enabled digital learning platform called ‘Next’ to reskill employees.

Dorairaj said, “Within 2.5 months of its launch, we had more than 50% of our employees registered on this learning platform.”

The COVID-19 crisis has kicked the reskilling revolution into high gear, forcing many companies in India to fast-track its reskilling strategies to remain competitive with economic instability on the horizon.

With online learning growing rapidly as people stayed home and worked remotely, business leaders should look into reskilling and upskilling their existing employees through online courses and master’s degrees delivered on platforms such as Coursera and EdX.