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The startups India Initiative might have been launched with a lot of gusto but the fact is that it has now hit an unforeseen barrier. According to a survey done on employability of engineers less than 4% of engineers who graduated in 2015 have the skills to be employable in a technology startup.
In India around 8 lakh engineers graduate every year and the survey has been done on 1.5 lakh engineers who graduated in the year 2015. It was for the first time that the ‘National Employability Report’ carried out by Aspiring Minds tested engineers on their startup readiness.
According to Varun Aggarwal who is the Chief Technology Officer Aspiring Minds, a company that evaluates and certifies job skills,” Investments and growth of technology startups is the new business story in India. Startups want students to learn on live projects, and be job-ready when they join in.” He further stated that,” job readiness of engineers is a huge problem facing them.”
The test was done on the sample taken from more than 650 engineering colleges in India. The assessment of the engineers was done on language, soft skills, cognitive skills, personality and technical skills. According to the report the top skills that are required for technology startup ready roles include problem-solving skills, work management and prioritisation, learning attitude and communication skills.
In the opinion of the IT industry lobby group Nasscom, employability remains a concern for the IT industry but for the startups it could be a bigger problem. In the case of large IT services set up companies have time to train engineers but the startups need people who can commence work right from day one. According to Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president at Nasscom,” The well-funded startups are getting the talent but for the bootstrapped startups, it’s even more important to get talented employees, and it is harder.”
Training programs around startups are being conducted by the association on themes such as design capability and design thinking, product management and technology series. Gupta stated,” We also organize Hackathons. Somewhere there is a need for changes in the curriculum and Nasscom is working on that.”
The last few years have seen an exponential rise in startups and there is a tremendous demand for engineers.
According to Kunal Shah, founder and CEO of Freecharge,” There will be an endless need for young and dynamic tech coders and engineers to contribute to this dynamic culture. It is also not just the technical skills that make engineers so valuable; it’s their tremendous brain power and work culture which is deeply rooted within them.” Among the digital wallet platform’s 200 employees nearly 80% are engineers. Startups such as PepperTap, Edureka, Chaayos, LivQuik and MySmartPrice are hiring engineers and say that finding quality, job ready engineers is a priority and often a challenge.
PepperTap’s 2,500 workforce has nearly 80% engineers and its CEO Navneet Singh admits that it is quite difficult to find good talent for startups. At the time when the startup economy is going through a consolidation phase this is a matter of concern. PepperTap would be needing 120-130 engineers in the coming year but is only looking for the ones who have their foundations right. Singh said,” The employability in core sectors across industry isn’t great.”
Edureka that is a 200-people interactive e-learning platform is looking for more than 50 engineers this year. It is looking for employees based on skills rather than the reputation of the college.
According to venture capitalists due to the deficit in the talent the salaries have been made very high. Sandeep Murthy, partner at Lightbox Ventures said,” Hiring top-tech talent remains the single hardest challenge for a startup, especially ones that aren’t heavily funded.”
“But it’s not all bad. What we are seeing around is that this has forced startups to find inventive alternatives to throwing money at the problem. The growth of hackathons and increasing number of ‘self-learning’ online tools and classes are creating a new breed of tech talent and ultimately a new, healthier talent pool in India.”