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Cooperative talent development

Shortage of qualified managers and unavailability of talent are throwing up challenges in the industry, reports Devraj Uchil.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2007 23:39 IST
Devraj Uchil

Even as the India growth story is being cited across the world, the author of the saga — India Inc — is finding it difficult to keep the chapter on managerial talent in the story flowing. Shortage of managers is threatening to snowball into a major crisis, in terms of numbers and specifically-suited talent readiness. Even the favourite hunting grounds of corporates, the B-school campuses, lack the ability to fill the need on both counts.

“Management institutes are unable to provide as many managers as needed by the industry. There is a gap in real managerial talent and talent cultivated in business schools. Only 10-12 per cent of management graduates are directly employable,” says Nikhil Agarwal, director, Zensar Centre for Business Innovation. India currently has over 1,500 business schools and a total enrolment of around 40,000 graduates. Yet industry projections say that by 2010, the IT industry alone would face a shortfall of five lakh professionals.

Two things are happening. One, companies are setting up training initiatives for their fresh recruits in order to generate the right-fit talent. And second, companies in the education and training services are picking up the opportunity to start specialised education/training for making up on the numbers shortfall as well as address specific skill needs.

Zensar, an IT and BPO services firm, sees an opportunity in the trained managerial talent shortfall. Zensar Centre for Business Innovation has ambitious plans to groom future leaders. Having experience in training management personnel for the Chinese government, the foray has been quite smooth and structured.

“We took the initiative to bridge the gap between available talent and the higher numbers needed by industry. We will be training 100 students this year in retail, operations and financial services and plan to coach 500 next year,” says Agarwal. The Dubai-headquartered Landmark-Lifestyle Group has committed to the absorption of 50 students from the first batch.

Corporates such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have built their own internal universities to train their personnel. TCS spends around two per cent of its revenue on training. “TCS has set up a state-of-the-art training facility at Technopark in Thiruvanthapuram for fresher training requirements. We drive our continuous learning programmes through a combination of internal training workshops and external certifications,” says Padmanabhan, executive director & head, global HR, TCS. In addition to continuous training programmes on varied technologies, processes and domains, TCS also has leadership development programmes aimed at grooming and creating global managers.

With the Indian economy surging forward at a nine per cent growth rate, sectors across industry are registering growth – retail, financial services, for example. The demand for competent managers to handle the scenario has hit the roof. “Given the huge potential in these segments, our focus on them becomes essential. This is not only beneficial from our perspective but also aligns with our customers’ requirements and business focus,” says Ganesh Natarajan, global CEO of Zensar Technologies.

He adds that a growing demand for IT and ITES firms to become knowledge firms, is making them scale up qualitatively from their existing services firm status. “The economy is moving towards becoming a knowledge economy from traditional trading; it has become essential to acquire domain expertise and knowledge.”

He believes this can best be addressed from an education perspective if industry and academia come together to create the right-fit talent. “Industry should collaborate with the academia to generate a high-end resource pool for sustaining growth of the industry and of the nation at large.”

The involvement of industry in the education process would go a long way in creating suitable managerial talent capable of taking on challenges from the very beginning. Some industry players are beginning to see the wisdom in such participation – companies in retail, for instance. But such participation needs to pick up volume and speed to make a significant impact.