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Skilling mechanism a game changer for AP IT sector

ITAAP, which is working with AP govt to enhance skilling initiatives, forecasts skilled manpower shortage may continue across India at least for the next 5-7 yrs; The AP govt has plans to set up Skill University in Visakhapatnam and a skill centre in each Parliamentary constituency

Skilling mechanism a game changer for AP IT sector
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Skilling mechanism a game changer for AP IT sector

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Talent Crunch

- WFH opens new opportunities to people from tier-2, tier-3 cities of AP

- Talented women, who stepped back in careers, get jobs with good packages

- Skilling initiatives to enhance talent pool to meet the global demand

- About 60-70% IT companies in AP are still providing WFH option

- Shortage of skilled manpower to continue at least for next 5-7 years

As per IT industry experts, about 2 lakh employees from other places came back to AP during Covid times to avail WFH option. In the same period, 13,000 people from the State were hired by the IT firms across the globe. Almost 35-40% of them are women

Hyderabad: With a massive demand for skilled workforce in information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services (ITeS) sectors, Andhra Pradesh is the preferred hiring destination of tech companies and startups. The State has a readily available untapped talent pool to cater the manpower needs of domestic as well as international IT firms. Post Covid, the IT industry has picked up in a big way. The IT companies are currently having a lot of projects in their hand and the business is expected to scale up in the coming years. Lack of skilled talent is the only challenge for this industry across the world. Skilling initiatives and internship programmes can further enhance the talent pool in AP to meet the global demand.

Work from home (WFH) and remote employment have already opened up new opportunities to the people from tier-2 and tier-3 cities of the State. Several women, who had a break in their career due to family concerns, have also returned to work during the pandemic period. The chances will be plenty if the women are re-skilled as per the industry requirements.

In the lockdown era, heavy hiring had taken place with WFH option. This brought an opportunity for the talented women who stepped back in their careers due to marriage or pregnancy. Many housewives and females in AP, who have some constraints to travel to offices at other locations, have received jobs in the recent past with good packages.

The industry experts suggest such women to take a refresher course and step into the market as it will help their career to grow faster. About 2 lakh employees from other places came back to AP during Covid times to avail WFH option. In the same period, 13,000 people from the State were hired by the IT firms across the globe. Almost 35-40 per cent of them are women.

The IT companies based out of AP are still providing WFH options to about 60-70 per cent of their workforce. They don't want their staff to waste time traveling. They are still evaluating and working on hybrid models. The IT employees in the State are comfortable with WFH and they got used to it, except a few employees, who are insisting on returning to office (RTO).

IT Association of Andhra Pradesh (ITAAP) is working with the State government to enhance skilling initiatives. Last December, AP State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) and APIT Academy (APITA) in collaboration with ITAAP started a free train and hire – Industry Specific Training Programme (ISTP) for unemployed youth to provide placements at the end of the course.

The ITAAP has conducted an exam in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, East and West Godavari districts to shortlist the candidates for this programme. Over 1,600 people appeared for the exam. But, the programme was stuck due to the third wave of Covid in January and also the sudden death of the IT Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy in February.

ITAAP President K Sreedhar said: "The demise of Goutham Reddy is a major setback to the IT industry in AP. He had built a very good rapport with the industry stakeholders. Now, we will be reaching out to the new minister, who has taken charge of the IT and industries portfolio. We are expecting more support from the government and new projects to happen in the near future."

"During the lockdowns, AP government was the first State to give passes to the IT companies to shift to WFH. We are fully exempted from the first lockdown onwards. The IT industry was doing well even during the pandemic due to the continuous support from the government. We are also expecting the government to give skill support," he added.

AP needs an exclusive skilling mechanism, which will be a game changer in the IT sector. A finishing school is required to overcome the dearth of skilled manpower across the country. The ITAAP has presence in four cities of the State – Visakhapatnam, Amaravati, Kakinada and Tirupati. It has been urging the government to set up training centres in these cities.

Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has a vision to establish Skill University in Visakhapatnam and a skill centre in each parliamentary constituency. He has been emphasising on this and the members of ITAAP have been requesting the government authorities to roll out a policy and implement his vision.

ITAAP Chairman (investments committee) RL Narayana said, "The shortage of skilled manpower is expected to continue across the country at least for the next 5-7 years. AP has a huge talent pool and a relative cost advantage over other neighbouring States. The present WFH scenario is likely to bring long-term benefits to the State."

"A majority of IT workforce in South India hail from the Coastal districts of AP and most of them are availing WFH option at present. Some of the IT majors and tech companies may eventually think to open a smaller office at Visakhapatnam or Vijayawada in the long run. They need time to do some research around how viable it is to set up an office here," he anticipated.

Owing to availability of talent and low-cost office space, IT companies are likely to invest money in Andhra rather than spending higher in Karnataka or Telangana. The lease amounts in Bengaluru and other metro cities are much higher than the rents in cities of AP. However, the IT companies look for similar infrastructure here, which is currently lacking in the State.

Another indirect benefit of the WFH situation is the gradual rise in the number of startups. Narayana says, "Some of the experienced people, who hail from here, may take up entrepreneurship in a year or two. However, the challenge is such startups may not offer the same perks being offered by the large MNCs to the local techies here."

N Sharath Chowdary
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