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Tech Industry

India could face IT staff drought

India could be short a quarter-million information technology workers in five years unless there is educational reform, warns a tech industry group.

India could be faced with a shortage of a quarter-million information technology workers in five years unless there is reform in technical education, warned an IT industry association in the country.

According to a recent survey by Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies), India will require a million tech workers by 2008.

The group cautions, however, that this gargantuan requirement cannot be met based on the nation's current intake trends for technical talent.

"Though India has a large talent pool, with 167,000 engineering students and 1.54 million graduates passing out of India's educational institutions annually, some training gaps remain," said Kiran Karnik, president of Nasscom.

The supply of IT workers in India will likely reach only 885,000 in five years, translating to a shortfall of 235,000 professionals, according to Nasscom.

Karnik is calling for action to plug gaps in education, as well as for greater cooperation between private and public sectors to offer intensive training on specific skills required by the tech sector.

"The IT industry, on its part, must provide appropriate training for students through internships," he said. Students in various technical disciplines must also be exposed to software training, he added.

Other findings from Nasscom's survey include:

• The number of Indian IT software and services professionals should hit 650,000 next month, a 24.4 percent spike from last year.

• Basic salaries for IT workers rose an average of 8 percent in 2002, with most companies adopting a variable pay strategy in a bid to control costs and to link pay to company performance.

• Hiring of new IT professionals was highest in South India at 44 percent and lowest in the Eastern region at 6 percent.

• The overall median age of Indian software professionals was 26.5 years.

• 79 percent of professionals in software companies were men, whereas 21 percent were women. However, this ratio is likely to be 65-to-35 by 2005. The ratio is reversed in the IT-enabled services sector, where the ratio of males to females is 35-to-65.

• 42 percent of the software professionals or knowledge workers surveyed possessed more than three years of work experience.

• The survey also revealed that 76 percent of all software professionals had a graduate degree or higher.

CNETAsia's Winston Chai reported from Singapore.