Visiting Microsoft Chief Executive Office Steve Ballmer raised an ancillary issue saying that while his company wanted to expand operations, they were not entirely happy with the quality of talent. This is in part because of companies growing rapidly and hiring all available talent that is not yet competitively trained. Microsoft and other companies are establishing their own training institutes and programs to compensate for the gaps in basic education and bring the latent levels to par. Ballmer asked whether the 25-30% of global engineering graduates being produced by India are “immediately employable by the companies seriously doing IT.”
That brings a core issue of quality and employable talent to the fore. While many universities around India generate engineers, they do not equip the graduates with soft-skills, researching capacity, or capabilities to learn by themselves. The educational system over-emphasized rote memorization and transfer of information instead of skill development and problem solving. While Western nations are trying to inculcate some of the transfer of information component into their system, India needs to reorient skills development into its own.
However, because of shortage of IT-skilled labor, salaries continue to rise unreasonably and often to the envy of those who are not in the area. Consequently, parents are encouraging their children to pursue IT often spending monies that they borrow on exorbitant interest on unreliable and non-bankable courses run by non-recognized institutions. With the Government unable or unwilling to standardize education to meet this growing requirement for international quality education, many parents continue to think that the growth of IT and the salary levels are sustainable.
Finally, disenchanted with the IT dream and heavily in debt, poorer families take their ire out on the IT companies. Fuelled by political manipulation blaming IT companies for farmers’ woes, farmer groups protest the spread of IT companies into their neighborhood. Perhaps, it is in response to this trend that the Board of Approvals has capped the number of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) for IT companies saying that the nation may “possibly reaching a limit” on IT SEZs. Washing its hands off IT projects because they do not want to face the ire of farmers in the next election, the BoA says that they will happy to approve any allocation that companies may have done directly.
This is a sad parody how parochial policies are converting a global advantage of high education levels, English-communication skills, and personal motivation into a national disadvantage.