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The Gateway to the Future: Addressing the IT Skills Deficit
by Saurabh Govil, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Wipro
Thursday, January 02, 2014

A Sep 2013 report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills reveals that IT specialists are the new force powering the UK economy as cyber security, mobile technologies, Green IT and cloud computing gain ground.  It further adds that the digital sector will require nearly 300,000 new recruits by 2020 to maximise its full potential.

However, the report also reveals that the potential of the digital sector to boost economic growth is being hampered by a lack of skills. The IT skills shortfall is not due to a lack of talent in the UK. But it is because many computer science graduates are having difficulty breaking into the job market as there is an experience gap among IT students looking to make the transition from academia to the world of work. According to the CBI’s (Confederation of British Industry) latest education and skills survey, businesses are finding that too many STEM-qualified applicants don’t arrive rounded and ready for work. Graduates may have learned key skills during their degrees but many are lacking the ‘on-the-job’ experience that makes them attractive to employers. Add to this the fast paced development of SMAC technologies (social, mobility, analytics and cloud) and computer science degree programmes are actually struggling to keep pace with the demands of employers.

To address the skills requirement across India and the UK, Wipro is working with the UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKERI) to offer 19 UK engineering students and graduates a chance to spend nine months gaining valuable hands-on experience via its ‘India Gateway’ internship programme. India has been a leading player in the global IT outsourcing market for several years now and high-skilled Indian talent remains much sought after.

The internship programme not only offers valuable work experience to the participants, but it also provides these graduates with a global outlook - something that is becoming more and more important as our economies become increasingly globalised.

Ferdinand Ade Nsoh, an IT graduate from Lancaster University who is currently on the Wipro internship programme, believes that the experience will make him more attractive in the job market and the exposure to another culture will be invaluable in a globalised world of work. Similarly, Heer Shah, a business IT graduate from Coventry University, sees the experience of working and living in India as a serious wake up call to his approach to work.  When asked about the experience, he said his work ethic had changed, helping him to become more passionate and driven.

Speaking to the graduates currently taking part in the internship programme, there are two areas of personal development that show strongly. Firstly, all of the graduates felt that the hands-on experience and new skills they are acquiring through the internship would definitely help to kick-start their careers in IT.  Damon Simmonds, a Robotics and Cybertronics graduate from Heriot Watt University expressed his confidence that the programme will hold him in good stead as he pursues his career in IT.

The value of living and working in a different culture was also cited as a key benefit of the internship for the graduates. The contrast between UK and Indian cultures, they believe, has made them more adaptable to new situations and less afraid to do something out of their comfort zones. Sarah Handy, a Mathematics graduate from the University of Sussex stated that the experience of living in a different culture has made her more flexible in terms of her approach to work, more adaptable to a different way of working, and more open minded when it comes to different cultures and practices. Sarah believes this will impact dramatically on her career prospects for the future.

By fostering this kind of economic and educational collaboration between the UK and India, both countries can look towards a thriving future. Ultimately, such internships facilitate knowledge transfer that benefits both economies.

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