The war for digital talent: India can emerge as a global hub for it

Synopsis: Tech skills are in short supply globally. The article lists five measures that we should take that will help India lead efforts to close the gap.


The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of enterprises, creating enormous opportunities for all organizations. This sudden acceleration in demand has led to a war for digital talent.

However, the gap between demand for and supply of digital talent is widening, and it  is a global phenomenon. A recent report by McKinsey & Co highlights that there is an estimated gap of 6 million between demand and supply of digital talent across eight countries including the US, China, India and parts of Europe.

As per a Salesforce study, 14 G-20 countries could miss out on $11.5 trillion worth of cumulative growth in gross domestic product (GDP) if the digital-skill gap remains unfilled.

How companies are adapting themselves to manage the shortage of Digital talent?

To deal with these talent wars, companies are adopting a multipronged approach—

step up fresh hiring so that the supply pool increases

enhance re-skilling programmes through online learning

deploy adjacent-talent skills for on-the-job learning, and, above all,

offer employees a holistic employment experience, one that spans career development, learning and wellness.

For example, the UAE just announced plans to roll out green visas, expand eligibility for golden visas and attract top tech workers for the country to become the preferred investment hub for technology companies.

Several other countries like the UK, US and Australia are rethinking efforts to attract high-skill talent, including fast-tracking visas for at-risk sectors and promoting visas for highly accomplished applicants.

How India can emerge as the world’s talent hub for digital skills?

For India to retain its lead in the digital era, we need to disrupt the traditional approach to talent development.

Implement the National Education Policy in true spirit. Continuous learning, skill credits, world-class academic innovation, experiential learning, faculty training, all need to focus on excellence and outcomes.

Build alternate talent pools. Engineers have been at the core of our talent strategy, but all tech skills don’t require a four-year degree.

Facilitate more women to join the work-stream with hybrid work norms

Revamp vocational education from industrial training institutes and polytechnics.

Incentivize skilling. In the early days of the tech sector, tax incentives played a key role in building a global footprint of multinational corporations in India. We must now create schemes that incentivize skilling for corporates, not just for their own needs, but across the ecosystem.

Explore innovative learning models. Use apprenticeship programmes at scale, not just for a certificate, but coupled with assessments. Invest in building world-class free content that can be leveraged by anyone and aligned with a credible system of certification.

Democratize training. All hurdles for people to get skilled should be removed. Unnecessary entry qualifications and eligibility criteria should be dropped. Government should prioritise a quality-controlled exit process.

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.

Source: This post is based on the article “The war for digital talent: India can emerge as a global hub for it” published in Live Mint on 29th Sep 2021.

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