UKIBC, UK Government and NASSCOM join hands to address digital skills gap

By UK India Business Council (UKIBC)

Recognising the importance of digital skills, UKIBC along with UK Government’s Department for International Trade (DIT) and NASSCOM organised a two-day virtual university tour focusing on talent acquisition for the Indian tech industry. This covers several of the UK’s top universities such as University of Nottingham, University of Glasgow and Durham University.

Globally there is a shortage of digital skills and, given the pace at which the digital landscape is evolving, it is vital for development that these skills are future proofed. Many nations have acknowledged the challenge and are working towards generating a robust skills pipeline to bridge the critical skills gap for digital technologies. NASSCOM has developed a large-scale skill-building programme, Future Skills Prime in India, which is a partnership between Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, GOI, NASSCOM and IT industry.

The UK is the Indian IT industry’s 2nd largest market after the US, contributing almost 17-18% to the export revenue. Bilateral trade between the UK and India stood at over £18bn in 2020. India accounts for the UK’s second largest source of investment in terms of number of projects, with “Tech & Telecom” sector contributing a significant portion to this. British and Indian investments support nearly half-a-million jobs in each other’s economies. In May this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced their ambition to double the value of UK-India trade over the next decade as well as a shared intent to begin work towards negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA).

Shivendra Singh, Vice President and Head, Global Trade Development, NASSCOM, said: “Talent is the key to success for the growth of the tech industry and it is industry’s constant endeavour to develop new-age skills and bridge the demand-supply divide. We are in discussion with the UK Government on how to address the skills gap challenge, and the University tour is a positive step to develop a local skills pipeline.”

Rhiannon Harries, UK’s Deputy Trade Commissioner, South Asia, said: “The Indian tech sector is one the largest investors in the UK. We want to create a platform for collaboration between industry and academia that can become a catalyst for innovation, growth and preparing an industry ready workforce. I’m pleased to see the strong progress we are making to strengthen the India and UK tech ecosystems through expertise and knowledge sharing, building cooperation and shared prosperity for the future.”

Kevin McCole, Managing Director, UK India Business Council, said: “This virtual summit has reaffirmed to me that UK universities have the expertise to help Indian industry access talented young people with the skills of the future. This, I feel, will be critical to ensuring India becomes a global manufacturing and digital services hub, and in achieving its development efforts in the coming decades. It has been fantastic to see such enthusiastic engagement across this two-day programme on digital skills, including AI, machine learning, blockchain, IoT, and data analytics. The three UK universities – Nottingham, Glasgow and Durham – were really impressive and made great links to top Indian companies keen to hire graduates equipped with these skills. The UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership and FTA is a meaningful opportunity to make more university-corporate partnerships the norm between our two countries and we look forward to supporting our members and clients make this happen”.

The initiative was a unique opportunity for companies to have a closer look at infrastructure   facilities at the universities, understand their methodology for developing skills, explore internships, joint R&D projects, industry-academia tie-ups, hiring and so on. NASSCOM members like Cigniti, First Source, HCL, Hexaware, Infosys, L&T, Mastek, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, WNS, Zensar among others participated in the two-day virtual programme.

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