Sunday, 2 July 2017


Following on from my blog post - RETRENCHMENTS ARE BEGINNING TO HIT INDIA'S IT AND BPO INDUSTRY, it looks like the future could be even worse for India's information technology (IT) and business services outsourcing (BPO) services workers in India, with predictions that over 600.000 workers in these areas would lose their jobs in the next three years.

A Press Trust of India report carried by India's Economic Times of 14 May 2017 quoted executive search form Head Hunters India founder-chairman and managing director K Lakshmikanth saying that up to 600,000 of India's IT and BPO workers could lose their job over the next three years.

According to McKinsey & Company, up to half (50%) of the workforce of India's IT services firms will become "irrelevant" in the next three to four years, whilst McKinsey India managing director Noshir Kaka said that the bigger challenge facing India's IT industry is to retrain between 50 to 60% of their workforce as there will be significant shifts in technology. India currently has 3.9 million IT workers and the majority of them will need to be retrained in these new technologies but between 30 to 40% will not be able to be retrained. Assuming that half of them will be able to continue working with their old skills, the other half will become redundant.

Meanwhile Lakshmikanth pointed out that with the growth in new digital technologies such as cloud computing happening at a much faster pace, the worst affected IT workers will be those aged 35 or above who cannot find new jobs.

Meanwhile You Tuber Abhiroop B says more or less the same things in his video entitled Soon There will not be any New IT industry jobs anymore in India, well actually slightly worse, in that up to 640,000 IT workers could lose their jobs over the next three years.

He mentions new technologies which IT workers will have to retrain in to continue to be employable the IT industry but the skills required by these technologies are radically different from IT and BPO services skills. Abhiroop B said he has cautioned many not to go into the IT and BPO services industries, since he knew that their days are numbered.

Readers who have been following my posts on IT.Scheiss for long enough will know that have been very sceptical with the much touted mantra that Malaysian workers must reskill themselves to "move up the value chain" to remain employable, as jobs "lower down the value chain" move out of Malaysia to neighbouring countries where wages are lower, whilst Malaysia heads towards becoming a "high income, knowledge based, developed economy by the year 2020". Well, that's now been pushed farther back to 2050 when those of my generation won't be around to witness.

Anyway, it's interesting that those countries to which these "sunset" industries have moved to are experiencing a sunrise, whilst those countries where "sunrise" industries remain are experiencing a sunset.

The forecast by McKinsey confirm what I have long believed that many will be unable to successfully reskill themselves several times throughout their working years, especially when they are burdened by family and other commitments especially in their 40s.

Some of the new skills required are as radically different from the old skills; as the chemistry skills required in the making of photo-sensitive silver iodide emulsion film are from the electronic engineering skills required in the making of photo-sensitive charge-coupled device (CCD) and complementary metal-oxide silicon (CMOS) most commonly used in digital cameras today. Most of those chemists who lost their jobs would not have been able to reskill themselves to become electronic engineers. Besides that, with the exception of the  respective cameras optics, other technologies and skills required in the design and manufacture of film and digital cameras are radically different. 

Also, as I have previously said, even if most can successfully reskill themselves and "move up the value chain" to perform higher skilled levels of work, will there be enough work opportunities the higher one rises up that value chain. I have often likened this to there being less living space for people the higher one goes up a mountain.

As is shown by the McKinsey report and Abhiroop B's video, the IT industry is replacing lower skilled IT and BPO jobs with automation. For example, when you activate your copy of Windows by phone, you now will be interacting with an interactive voice response (IVR) system, rather than a human help desk agent, just as most banking today is conducted either online or through self-service machines such as ATM, cash and cheque deposit machines, whilst there are much fewer human bank tellers and customer service staff in banking halls today.

Unlike with distributed computing power, as in the 1980s, 90s and perhaps also the early 2000s, the greater use of cloud computing today, with computing power highly centralised on physical or virtual servers in data centres, which are accessed remotely over the Internet; has reduced the industry's demand for computing professionals required to develop, operate and maintain the system.

For example, anyone with a Gmail account can now use the cloud based services Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides over the Internet  to create and edit Word documents, Excel Spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, without having to install Microsoft Office on their PC, which for most large offices, would have required one or more IT employees to maintain and manage.

All this raises questions as to whether it is worth pursuing a qualification in IT when, one's skills acquired will likely become obsolete by the time one is in their late 30s or 40s, much like the career span of a fashion model, whose good looks, fine skin, slender and sleek bodies of youth fades by middle age, or a sports professional whose youthful strength, speed and agility decline with age.

Younger IT workers may be able to reskill themselves a couple of times earlier in their career to remain relevant, like hamsters running on a treadmill, but for how long can they keep on running just to stay in one place before they tire and fall back, get off or are thrown off?

Is it no surprise then that many Malaysian parents now discourage their children from pursuing courses in IT?

Just as King Canute could not command the sea tide not to come in, IT continues to evolve at an unrelenting pace.

And, whilst the required skills, tools, technologies and techniques used in all trades and professions inevitably change, however, some change incrementally and slowly enough for one to remain relevant throughout one's working years, much like accountants, medical doctors,pharmacists, lawyers, , civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, architects architects, chefs, writers, economists and so forth, so is it no wonder then that parents would prefer that children pursue qualifications in these trades and professions than IT, especially now with news of expected loss of over 15% of jobs in India's IT industry over the next three years.

Yours trully


No comments:

Post a Comment