India's Outsourcing, Research Sectors Face Skills Crunch

By Agence France-Presse India's top information technology (IT) body said Sept. 13 that India's booming outsourcing and IT research sectors face a looming skills shortage and the nation's universities must train students better to fill the gap. Kiran Karnik, president of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), said the body had begun talks with IT firms, universities and governments about improving study courses to equip students for outsourcing and IT research jobs. "There are 2.5 million graduates every year in India," said Karnik. "[But] the employable pool in this is very, very small. We are working with the universities to train people better. The aim is to have courses meant toward producing graduates with quality. This has to start right from the primary school level." NASSCOM said in a recent report that India's outsourcing industry was expected to face a shortage of 262,000 professionals by 2012. Karnik's statements followed comments by Gartner, a global IT consultancy, last month. Gartner said emerging nations in Southeast Asia and central Europe could eat up nearly half of India's 80% current share of the booming outsourcing market if the sector failed to draft a long-term strategy to stay ahead. U.S. and other firms have made a beeline for India, drawn by its vast educated English-speaking workforce and labor costs much lower than in the West. But Gartner said that unlike other emerging nations such as Thailand, Malaysia, Fiji, Mauritius, the Czech Republic, Poland and South Africa, India has failed to draft a plan for the future to train workers for the industry. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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