Today, the $150 billion Indian IT services industry makes for 9.5% of the country’s GDP and employs 3.7 million people across the world. However, the shortage of skilled employees has become a major obstacle for the sector.
A recent Aspiring Minds study stated that an alarming 95% of engineers in India are unfit for high-level programming jobs. This comes at a time when clients’ demands are evolving rapidly and to keep pace with that, companies need to focus on innovation.
Indian IT education, thus, desperately needs to evolve, beginning with the kinds of programming languages taught early on.
Current state of affairs
Today, every company in every industry sector is turning into a tech company in one way or the other. Most back-end processes – manufacturing, operations, accounting, recruiting, supply chain – are becoming tech-driven. In fact, even consumers are more dependent on technology for purchase decisions and buying processes.
This increased dependence on technology can only be sustained and leveraged if IT training is introduced early on, maybe even in schools.
However, a lack of good teachers is a major hurdle to this.
Teaching is rarely a profession of choice for talented coders, largely because of the huge difference in remuneration. It is not uncommon to see freshers making Rs 20-30 lakh per annum at tech companies and startups in India. Compare that to the average Rs 3-5 lakh a tech university teacher earns annually.
As we go down the chain, the quality of programming skills being taught and the resources available to students also fall further.
The current coding education that is provided at the higher secondary (12th standard) level today is inadequate.
So far, the focus has been on legacy programming languages such as C, C++, Java, and Visual Basic. Data from HackerRank, a platform for coders to practice their skills, reveals how prevalent traditional coding languages still are in India.
While these languages are important and give a good idea of the fundamentals of computer science, they are verbose.
Importantly, such languages come in handy in areas like big data, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and machine learning, which are much in demand today.
Meanwhile, educational institutions also fall short in practical learning and actual code creation. So, a fresh graduate must often learn skills from scratch at the firm he or she joins. This considerably increases the cost and time involved in talent acquisition.
If new computer languages are embedded in the school curriculum, and students develop practical understanding, they’d be better off at work.
Today, there are avenues beyond classrooms to pick up IT skills. Indian coders must focus on experiential learning, apprenticeships, and mentorship programmes. They can also leverage computer clubs – the backbone of the coding culture at universities – that regularly organise events, technical talks, and workshops. They may also collaborate with their professors in research work.
This article first appeared on Quartz.