27 Dec 2017 20:36 IST

War for talent: advantage India

India’s loss is the rest of the world’s gain as more talent looks to migrate to developed countries

Could we be seeing the start of an Indian Summer as far as talent acquisition goes? If two reports and general trends are to be believed, good times are ahead for candidates from India in the next decade, as the war for talent between countries hots up.

The factors working in India’s favour are age and new skills. Even as many developed countries are in the throes of a talent crisis because of an ageing population, India’s young and productive workforce is only getting larger.

According to the third edition of Deloitte’s Voice of Asia report released in 2017, over the next decade India’s working age population (defined as those between ages 15 and 64) will rise by 115 million people. Currently, the number stands at 885 million. In all, across Asia, there will be 225 million people added to the working age population, which means India will account for over 50 per cent of the new supply. The report points out that during that same decade, Japan’s working age population will shrink by more than 5 million people, and China’s by 21 million.

The decade following that will see India add another 78 million to its workforce, while Japan and China will see further drops. China could witness a decline of as many as 80 million people by 2038. These demographic changes could have big implications on talent acquisition and migration.

Digital skills

As these ageing countries look for talent from outside, India’s youthful population could be well-placed to tap into this opportunity, provided they can crack the education, training and language hurdles. Already many are showing far-sightedness if you look at the spurt in the number of Indians choosing to enrol for MBAs at the China Business School and other institutions in the far East.

In terms of skills, what the app and gig economy-driven world today is looking for is digital specialisation. Cyber security, cloud computing, analytics, web development, design thinking, and mobile application design and development are some of the most sought after skills today globally. And if Capgemini’s joint survey with LinkedIn is to be believed, India is actually ahead in this area.

According to The Digital Talent Gap report , the three countries with the largest supply of digital talent per 10,000 people are India, the United Kingdom, and Germany. India ranks highest in proportion of digital talent at 76 per cent. Proportion refers to the percentage of digital talent out of every hundred persons surveyed.

The reason India scores well in digital talent is because of the boom in e-commerce and technology.

The survey was conducted between June and July 2017 across nine countries and seven sectors (automotive, banking, consumer products, insurance, retail, telecom, and utilities). Automotive (64 per cent ) and consumer products (63 per cent ) were found to have the highest proportion of digital talent, globally.

Cashing in and the caveats

These surveys may be cause for optimism but there are a few caveats. India can leverage the age advantage only if institutions providing skilling and education and invest in the right courses and training.

Interestingly, the LinkedIn-Capgemini report points out that 42 per cent of employees are dissatisfied with the training provided by their employers, saying it is not effective. People are investing their own time and money on picking up digital skills; and these are the people who are likely to move out when better opportunities present themselves.

For every four digital talents moving into India, 10 are moving out of the country, the survey finds. The US (50 per cent), Australia (8 per cent) and the UK (8 per cent) are the top three countries talent from India is moving to.

While businesses in Europe and the US may look to India to provide digital talent, how can companies in India prevent talent migration? According to the Capgemini-LinkedIn report, millennials and Gen Z will require special packages that allow them flexibility, cover student loans and other such benefits. Some Chinese companies, such as Baidu, are already moving in that direction.

Brain drain is not a new phenomenon, what’s new this time is the change in geographical direction and the new skill demands.

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